By Zack Klapman.
This is the battle for Mount Vesuvius, a clash of the Titans for 4-door super-sedan supremacy. The Porsche Panamera Turbo S vs. the Aston Martin Rapide is 2 cars costing about $200k capable of 190MPH. They sound ridiculous to bicyclists of the world, but make perfect sense the first time you take three friends past the 170MPH mark.
The Aston Martin Rapide is the best-looking sedan on the planet. That’s because it looks like an Aston Martin DB9, and no other 4-door has ever had that comparison. It’s like saying, “Wow, that NFL quarterback looks an awful lot like Selma Hayek.” The differences between a DB9 and the Rapide are almost un-noticeable, especially from the front or rear. The front is breathtaking. The rear doors are small. The classic Aston shape, retained. Even those who love the Panamera will pass on a beauty pageant between these two.
The inside of the Rapide is as nice as you could hope for, and, again, strictly Aston Martin; It appears that you could trade your Rapide interior with your friend’s DB9 as easy as baseball cards. Every inch of our car was covered in gorgeous brown leather, with contrasting stitching icing this decadent cake. From the piano black center stack, to the aluminum gauges worthy of Swiss watchmaker, to the seats, the inside is 1%-er perfection. Heck, the key is made of sapphire, and slides into the dash, like a warhead’s plutonium core. You feel special sitting in it, and that’s important.
In the front seat or the back seat if you’re not under 12 years old, or have chopstick legs, you’re unhappy. They intended it to be a sedan, but it’s like your kid’s first day at school where you made the lunch, packed the bag, got the pencils, drove to school, and realized you left your kid at the house. Adults will hate it back there.
Similarly small is the trunk. On a golf outing, only 2 sets of clubs could fit in the back. So even if you get four people in the car, only two get to bring stuff. Of course, if you’re in the front seat, you’ll be grinning like Charlie Sheen in Columbia.
The noise, ohhhh the noise of the 5.9L V-12 is pure greatness. This 470HP/443ft-lb orchestra is one of the greatest philharmonics ever assembled. And because torque peaks at five grand, you have to play it at a high volume to get the most from it. Is it fast? Well, it used to be. What I mean is, 4.7 seconds to 60 and a 13 second ¼ mile isn’t that impressive anymore, not for the money. It’s fast compared to commuter cars, but compared to lots of cars (Panamera Turbo), it’s practically broken down on the side of the road.
But again, you won’t care. The Internet cares about that stuff. In the real world, it’s about enjoyment, not numbers and lap times. The Aston Martin Rapide is definitely a capable car; high cornering speeds and G loads it can do. But it’s more about the overall sensation. The noise. The smell. The appearance. This is a GT car with a little more room. A car that makes a statement, whether it’s moving or not. It does cost $207,000 (or more), but few cars can turn you on without even moving.
This running back is a ninja. Looks are subjective, but I’m pretty sure that, in 2,000 years, the entire Inter-Galaxy Council will agree that the Rapide is the better-looking car. I’ve heard all kinds of words used to describe the Panamera, from the celebratory to the derogatory. From certain angles I liked it, from certain angles I hated it. Call me superficial, but looks are important to me, then I drove it.
Dear Porsche, I’m sorry for all the mean things I said about your incredibly excellent car. This is one of the best-driving cars I have ever been in, 4-door or otherwise. And it should. My tester costs $194,665, and it’s not a super model. Like many of us, the Porsche makes up for a shortcoming by exceling in other areas. In this case, it’s every area.
Let’s talk speed: 0-60 happens in the low 3 seconds. Launch control wins races and confuses your mind. It actually hurts your eyeballs. Hold brake, floor gas, let off brake. What happens next is the cause of all those cracks you see on your road. AWD makes it feel like the crankshaft is connected directly to the road. Turbo lag is over at 2,250RPMs, and laws are broken a second later. You could say it’s the power (550HP and 590 ft-lbs of torque), but the real magic is the efficiency with which the Panamera drives that into the ground. There’s no slack, no loss, no wheel spin. Highway passes need to be done with a watchful eye on the speedo, because 130MPH happens really fast (as did 186MPH on a dry lake bed).
It’s just as good in the corners, too. 4,400lbs? I couldn’t tell. The Panamera is big, wide as a house, but that makes it stable. It turns in like a car half its size (cornering is 1.0g!), has great steering feel, great brakes, and the paddle-shifted 7-speed PDK transmission reacts instantly. Take an F1 car, put a growling V8 in it, and add some seats. Panamera Turbo S.
Contradictory to nature, you get practicality too. The trunk is bigger than the Rapide, there’s 3 more inches of room in back, and the seats can even fold flat. I drove and rode for 800 miles without complaint. As a passenger car, the Panamera beats the Aston handily.
The only shortcoming I found was with the prison grey colored interior, which made a very expensive car look very cheap. The layout of the cabin is nice, very engineer-y, very Porsche. Choose the right color, and you feel like you’re in a transport pod from 2032. The high center console is easy to reach, although the buttons all look the same (but so do the Aston’s). It’s not that the cabin is cheap it’s just the grey didn’t do it justice.
The market for $200,000 super sedans is made up of individuals who are used to getting what they want, and they all want something different. Many of these people want an individuality easily recognized by the masses. These cars say something that the whole world understands, while separating them from the world.
The people that make decisions based on numbers (speed, power, reliability, practicality) will buy the Porsche. It’s faster, roomier, and you can drive it in the snow. Those that want to stand out, who choose the sound of records over the storage of MP3s; they buy the Aston.
They’re both exceptional automobiles, but the problem with the Aston Martin Rapide is that it’s a stripper in a cop uniform: same look without the skills. It has the doors and the seats, but they aren’t really for people. If this were a competition judged from only the front seats, I would probably take the Aston. It’s beautiful, sounds amazing, and it’s plenty fast. But, this is about sedans. And the Porsche Panamera Turbo S is the better one.