2014 Aston Martin Rapide S first drive review Page 3

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By modern-car standards, the Rapide’s instrument panel feels a little unfocused, and depending on your outlook it may feel either charming or frustrating. You shift from Park to Drive, Reverse, and such with large elevator-style buttons across the dash, which takes some getting used to. And while the navigation system has a beautiful, high-contrast screen, making selections involves looking down to the list of buttons first, to press one (‘nav,’ for instance) before you rotate through the menu. Switchgear feels good, on the other hand, and fit and finish are far better than in Astons of the not-so-distant past.

’Bespoke’ has come to describe a certain class of cars—models that are typically custom-ordered. Especially in the U.S., where luxury cars are most often selected from what’s in the showroom, that philosophy separates Aston Martin from some of the more mainstream luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz or even Porsche. Aston officials seemed just as opinionated as their customers when asked what they would or wouldn’t order in a personal car—although their own personal taste has no relation to where they draw the line aesthetically in a vehicle.

With four doors, the closest to a true sports car

For the driver and front passenger, if not those wedged in back, this is a car that can provide spine-tingling thrills charging up mountain passes and along canyons, the confidence and stability for extended left-lane duty on high-speed motorways, or plush, surprisingly sedate cruising at American ‘cruise control’ speeds.

While the Porsche Panamera is more of a brute, and the CLS63 AMG is about as athletic, at a lower price albeit in a more ‘common’ wrapper. Meanwhile, the closest rivals are the Bentley Flying Spur and Maserati Quattroporte—both vehicles that we haven't recently driven.

This is a car that’s classy and elegant when it’s not moving; then extroverted and charming, from inside or out, when it is. And we're more than a bit envious of anyone with the deep pockets to afford one.

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