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Old 23rd May 2011, 23:18   #1
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Default Test Driven Aston Martin Rapide and Vantage V8

Hello all,

I remember few years back when the S-Class was made available in India via the SKD route, if you walked into any Mercedes-Benz India dealership and asked for a test drive, you either got a big face wondering if you are out of your mind or a polite 'No'. You were expected to buy it based on the fact that it was the most expensive car available in India and the tag that it carried of "The world's best car".

Times change, walk into the Mercedes dealer today and they will gladly give you a test drive of not only the S-Class but also it's petrol and diesel siblings, so well has the market matured that today one could get a test drive for most cars in the market including Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, and various others, some may not be test cars and some in LHD formats but you will get the feel to ensure you buy what you want and if you like it. A very good move as many a times in the family we have got cars without test driving, and trust me have not been satisfied and some expensive cars have been sold in few months. This should also be a lesson that being expensive does not guarantee it is very good.

For pictures of the car please use this link

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/super-...ujarat-47.html

Coming to the Aston Martin, I was informed about their Ahmedabad expo few weeks in advance, and believe me there was not a single nerve in my body that did not want it to happen fast, while time passed by and I was mostly given all updates by the dealer, a certain last minute medical issue was about to ruin my fun and countless calls to H@r$h@l whining about the same, but well looks like the doctor liked me and delayed the surgery which got the grin back on the face, but I guess I was too happy and too soon as the event looked like it had more crowd then perhaps the kumbh mela would have. A plan made by a few Bhpian's went bad due to the non availability of cars, and which kinda ticked me off as a similar even has been hosted by other car makers but in a lot more discreet manner to avoid a lot of walk in's but then keeping the ranting aside at 22:15 I was called by the dealer who apologized and asked if I would like to drive it now?

Was I ever going to say no to this? Hell no!

Off I go along with my wife and at the gate we were greeted by 3 of these beauties, sorry but at first glance from the back side it was hard to distinguish between the 3 cars, they were too similar and almost the same shape, and I keep criticizing Audi for their similar patterns. Approach the Rapide and honestly none of us were excited enough compared to the Ferrari 458 test drive in NYC.

Sales manager was out and greeted us, and without much talking we got into the Rapide and first things first, The Ergonomics are pretty much on the average, and having driven the Panamera just a day before this a lot of comparisons were bound to happen and in terms of the interior layout, quality, ergonomics you can see the Panamera is miles ahead, and then comes the seat adjustments which were quite disappointing again compared to Panamera which had multitude of adjustments, and the worst bit, the steering wheel had manual adjustments, one can say all this is ok as this is a sports car and blah! but well have driven quite a few and cars have come a long way esp. when you talk about spending so much and try to pitch them as practical daily use cars?

Maybe I am being too harsh? Maybe expecting too much? Why not? I am going to spend 2.20 Crore + on the car it better have all I want?

The car quality was ok, yes there was leather all around, but that alone does not mean it's amazing, the buttons were quite bad in terms of layout or texture, so were the car's door handles which no one could even digest after spending quite a lot of time with it, even the backlighting in terms of the interior was only average and not as bright as one would expect in this segment, with a lot of areas without any, but of course the instrument cluster was beautiful and I love the fact that there is no digital screen which seems to be a fad and I love my instrument clusters to have a good old school needle and a dial and this had the best kinds, and turn the audio system on and you were greeted by the wonderful Bang and Olufsen speakers which came out in pure style (was wondering if they ever got stuck?), and then starting the car was again a pleasure as the car roared to life and the V12 was truly an experience and everyone in the lobby / parking area was at a standstill.

This is where I was a little lost, getting the car into D, turns out it had 4 buttons on the dash where you press D, again a layout I would not be too fond of, why can't car makers keep a few things the way they always have been so comfortable? It's like a bunch of board members get on a meeting and decide, hey shifting gears is a little too easy for everyone, lets complicate it? Oh ya! Bingo!

Anyways, it gets into D, and believe me this was mind blowing, driving it out into the streets was absolutely thrilling, and words dont describe the emotion that comes out, and everything bad I experienced until now is now history, and there is nothing but absolute smile on the face, and I was also able to test it's paddle shifts and was able to take the car into 6000 rpm at which the car sounded absolutely amazing, but one could notice the fact that the fuel used was not good enough to justify the engine's power and refinement as there were certain times when you could feel it mis fire, and sometimes a feeling of a minor lag? I am unsure if this is only due to fuel quality or a general property?

But the drive was gorgeous, and well balanced, but the rear visibility was strictly average, I did not experience the rear seats, for which fellow Bhpian H@r$h@l could give better light. But the car never bottomed at any place, and the drive was pretty comfortable and the car and it's steering always felt well planted and well placed but every time and at every mode of it I was missing the Panamera which may not look like a very good car but everything else it does better in all aspects by a mile compared to the Rapide.

Once back, I parked it, and there was not a single feeling of the 'Want it' factor which I have had for few cars after driving it, in fact it made me start liking my BMW 530D even more.

I am not saying it is a bad car at all, for some this maybe the finest car in the world, but to me it was just a nice car and not something I would consider if I was in a market for such a car.

(Deeply apologize as my skills at writing and reviewing cars are at an infant stage and the opinions above are only personal and should not be used as a default)
Coming up The Aston Marting Vantage V8.
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Old 24th May 2011, 00:53   #2
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Default Re: Test Driven Aston Martin Rapide and Vantage V8

Now from the time we reached, everyone including my wife, had our eyes on the white Aston Martin Vantage S which was parked right next to the Rapide, and on the other side of the Rapide was the DBS, but in the dim light at night and a distance the white Vantage is what caught everyone's eyes a little more then the darker Rapide and the DBS.

We were unable to drive the DBS / Vantage S at night due to the cars being here on carnet, and also they had some legal issues with the RTO here but then this morning a call from the sales team said I could try it out and see if it will do well on the way to my office where I daily drive the 530D and manage a mile of bad roads with minor bruises at the bottom half of the car.

Sitting next to the Rapide and Vantage while looked a little small, also felt a lot better proportioned compared to the Rapide which looked a lot like an extremely stretched DB9 / Various current Astons. It also had wonderful alloys, and of course the interior was beautifully clad in a red leather with white contrast stitching, getting into the Vantage felt a little easier compared to the Rapide, and I have no reasons or answers as to why as I did not do side by side comparisons, I stand at 5'6''.

I sat on the drivers seat and by now was a lot more familier with the poor ergonomics, and I setup my seats, mirrors and the manual adjusting steering column, hold onto the breaks, push the key in and another nice V8 note greets you well enough to put a smile on the face, and press 'D' and off we go, now compared to the Rapide, this felt a lot better finished for some reason and this was a comment 4 of us had, and if not better then it felt a lot more value compared to the other Aston which were almost twice as expensive. On our way out of the hotel, the car did manage to scrape the road on an incline, but it was minimal and only due to the fact that there was some road construction work which had a minor dip, my smile grew wider and wider the more I drove this, the engine was quite responsive, and so was the seven speed gearbox which again had the advantage of steering wheel paddles, which did a wonderful job of upshifts and downshifts on demand and never really felt sluggish.

The car's cornering abilities were not tested by me as I had pretty much no space or time to do such activity but it was always well composed and driving at a speed of about 165 with a few irregularities on the road also did not deter the car to lose any momentum or grip, and the low profile tyre do ensure you feel every bit of the road and which along with the seats could make this a little taxing on your back if you have any issues as this is not exactly comfort oriented, but if Aston offered comfort seats as optional then it should be fine. ( I am unaware of the option list)

The car did quite a good job of tackling a few extremely large sized speed breakers, and also did tackle rough roads well at slow speeds, but what I sorely missed was Ventilated seats and it is something I believe that should be standard on all cars sold in the country, if not at least in my city. The seat adjustments were also quite basic, I am not sure if there are other options available, but they are quite nice and do a good job of hugging you and keeping you in your place.

Over all the car felt well built, and at the end of the drive it was something that left a little bit of "Would be nice to have" factor which the Rapide did not. Infact I even had a tiny conversation with fellow Bhpian H@r$h@l on what exactly is the USP of Aston? I mean Vantage is all that made sense to me, and for every other car I felt there were better options at that price or some even cheaper? Again this is an endless debate but as far as I am concerned if I want an Aston I would stick to the Vantage and use rest of the money elsewhere as 2.2+ crore for a Rapide or 3.0 for DBS did not give me any satisfactory feeling and I would still choose Panamera over the Rapide and 458 over the DBS, maybe you do not compare them but to most it would? But then I suppose most will end up buying both

I have to really thank the Aston Martin dealership, and Aditya their sales manager who managed this amid all the crowd and lack of time they had but not once did they make you feel that you need to reduce your test drive even with other clients waiting.

And lastly, thanks to H@r$h@l and AVR for coming along, and helping me do this.

For any further questions do ask away, I may not be accurate but will try answer each as I can. Also the price of the car tested was 1.4 Approx.

Regards,
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Old 24th May 2011, 01:04   #3
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Default Re: Test Driven Aston Martin Rapide and Vantage V8

man are you one lucky dude! Wow! Anyway, looks like the AM's aren't as comfortable as you'd expect them to be considering the price your paying for it. Thats pretty bad considering that they're gonna cost you atleast 2 crore odd. The least AM could do is make the seats more comfortable.
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Old 24th May 2011, 01:08   #4
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Default Re: Test Driven Aston Martin Rapide and Vantage V8

Sweet and Short!! Nice write up, S350L-E240. BTW, where was the Expo held?
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Old 24th May 2011, 01:11   #5
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Default Re: Test Driven Aston Martin Rapide and Vantage V8

Nitrous_Power,

Long time, how you been? In India or VA? The expo was held at Mariott Ahmedabad.

Regards,
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Old 24th May 2011, 08:16   #6
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Default Re: Test Driven Aston Martin Rapide and Vantage V8

I loved your review. You criticized the AM front back and center. You didn't fall for it just with it's reputation or badge value. I totally respect that! Poor quality door handles! Who would have thought!

I enjoyed reading this in and out. In fact even I smiled when you drove the Rapide. Good stuff, and thanks for taking time out to do this.

PS: Your English is fine. Except, a general misconception while speaking is to use the term 'back side' which is generally used to describe a posterior end aka a butt. Back side of a building? Say rear side, rear end, or simply the back of the building!
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Old 24th May 2011, 11:48   #7
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Default Re: Test Driven Aston Martin Rapide and Vantage V8

Nice write up.

Now coming to the rear seat and other aspects of the Rapide which i noticed as a co passenger. The door handles and all feel really 'cheap' for the price you are paying for the car. The rear seat has a HUGE center console which houses the AC vents and a provision for connection your add on consoles in there eg. gaming consoles, iPod etc. Now we all know Rapide is a 4 seater car like the Panamera but the passenger on reat seat has to be a kid or a person whose height is no more than 5'5". I was really uncomfortable on that seat. The glass area is so small and makes one feel cramped on a longer drive.

Earlier last month we had gone to check out Panamera (pics of which can be found on AHmedabad imports thread) and the rear seat on that felt much spacious and plush. All in All the interior quality, seating, getting in and out (rear seat) is over all better in the Panamera and of course the price tag too. Trust me, getting IN and OUT from the rear seating is very uncomfortable.

IF i am asked to rate the car over all. (Just my opinion) 5/10. Guys i don't intend to start any debate here, but just a honest passengers review.

All details pics which we manged to click have been posted in the Imports in Ahmedabad thread.

Thanks S350L-E240 for the drive

Bottom Line : Expensive doesn't always mean it has to be BEST.

Last edited by h@r$h@l : 24th May 2011 at 11:50.
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Old 24th May 2011, 14:58   #8
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Default Re: Test Driven Aston Martin Rapide and Vantage V8

Well Well. Someone's been prompt with the writing.

Very basic points that I noticed while sitting as a passenger in the Rapide are:
1) If I pay 2+ Cr. (Let's ignore whether I have them or not ), I want to feel the wow factor. No doubt the AMs look great but the Rapide didn't come remotely close to giving the wow factor when you step in. Let me clarify though, I don't mean wow from the people who see me in it but when I feel good about spending my money and sitting inside a car. Recently saw the Bentley Continental. Now that surely gave the "wow" feeling. Comparitively, the AM did disappoint. Of course, it helped that I can't afford it so don't have to think much.
2) Boy the V12! The sound is, well, */words that can cause infractions/*

Cheers,
Adi
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Old 24th May 2011, 20:45   #9
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Default Re: Test Driven Aston Martin Rapide and Vantage V8

@ ByDesign,

Glad you liked it, and thanks a lot for the inputs

@ H@r$h@l, AVR,

Nice points added agree with all of them, in fact getting in and out of the front was also quite a task in the Rapide.

Regards,
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Old 27th March 2013, 04:03   #10
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Default Re: Test Driven Aston Martin Rapide and Vantage V8

Oh boy - AM was on my wish-list, and after reading this, my whole perception has changed!!! Would never pay 2 crore for a crap like that.

Sad to see that S350L-E240 has been already banned on TBHP, so can't take any inputs from him.

My next upgrade would certainly be in S-Class range (of course, only after 24-36 months only since I've got the s80 for now... but, definitely wanted to know a thing or two from him, plus I'd have enjoyed reading more reviews like those!).

BTW it was a very similar case when i took TD of BMW X3 - didn't like the ride, nor the looks, and just asked the sales guy - I'd much rather take the LR Freelander 2, or the Q5 - why should i put my money on the X3? And, guess what - he said it's a BMW - take it or leave it!!!
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