The world of luxury 12-cylinder sedans gets far more attention than sales, as it remains the ultimate destination purchase for the global one percentery. Today, Aston Martin unveiled a thoroughly updated version of its sedan, now called the Rapide S, carrying 550 hp and an engorged front grille that has as much to do with new rules as it does with striking back at Ford for borrowing the look.
If the front end of European cars seem to be going in ugly directions, it's because European auto regulators now require front ends that are less likely to hurt pedestrians in crashes. That means the end of narrow wedges and a movement toward broad grilles with bumpy safety features, something that may ruin the looks of many lesser models. In the Rapide S, Aston Martin has managed to preserve the sedan's graceful appeal by engineering a complex safety system; the classic grille is designed to fall back when striking wayward peasants, preventing them from striking their head on the hood.
Under that hood lies yet another version of the company's 6-liter V-12, tuned to 550 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque, flinging the carriage to 62 mph in 4.9 seconds – an improvement of 0.3 seconds — and hitting a top speed of 190 mph. Inside, Aston will offer anything its customers can envision, from a glass transmission selector to an optional smoker's kit, for those CEOs who still enjoy a good cigar while driving a beautiful sedan.