2014 Aston Martin Rapide S, big mouth strikes again: Motoramic Drives
In the sole single from their classic 1986 album "The Queen Is Dead," The Smiths croon saccharinely about committing an intense array of vicious activities, including: smashing teeth, bludgeoning the supine and empathizing with flame-roasted martyrs. Conspicuously absent from this musical litany is, achieving contemporary European automotive/pedestrian impact standards. This is not because Morrissey and Marr could not come up with a rhyme for “pedestrian” — given the lyrical prominence of Joan of Arc in said tune, “equestrian” is a rather obvious choice — but rather because these standards were not developed until 2009, 22 years after the group disbanded.
Still, the song in question, “Big Mouth Strikes Again,” could very well have been written about the newly revised 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S, whose muzzly — or, in Aston’s delightful parlance, “metallic full-face” — grille was inspired in no small part by these new regulations. Forged in one monumentally lustrous extrusion, the fascia is spring-clipped to the front of the car in such a manner as to absorb the force of a low-speed collision with a human fibula, thus meeting the (bizarre) new European leg-clobbering standards. Beats the hell out of a plaster cast.
The grille also makes this handsomest of existing sports sedans look even more deliciously savage and brutish — an assessment that we can now back up, experientially, having spent the better part of two days thrashing the Rapide S up and around the Catalonian mountain.
Coming as a surprise to exactly no one, driving the car in these conditions approaches the euphoric, with a chassis that is as delightfully lithe and stiff as men’s gymnastics team on an outing to Cheetah’s, brakes that bind as snug and agreeably as your favorite cashmere turtleneck just after it’s back from the environmentally friendly dry cleaners, and precise steering that provides levels of feedback previously achieved solely during a live performance by Iggy and the Stooges in 1973.
The Rapide is equally congenial on the highway. Some of this is the responsibility of its slightly wider seats, made possible by the removal of Aston’s stubbornly misplaced and finickally turgid handbrake, which occupies the space where your left thigh would prefer to be. Some of it is due to the hidebound nature of the cabin, which features more tightly stretched leather than Cher circa 1989-2003.