With two people, there is ample space for suitcases and a few salmon rods.
Gran Tourismo (GT), an Italian homage to the days of the Grand Tour, denotes a car that can transport its contents at breath-taking, yet effortless, velocity across a continent in comfort. There will be room for luggage (probably bespoke) and, preferably, four people if needs must. The initials GT conjure an image of men in thick-cotton, open-necked shirts, with rolled-up sleeves (but sans cravat), piloting willowy women across sunlit Alpine passes to winding Mediterranean coast roads.
Sadly, my companions in the new Aston Martin Rapide S were the Editor (rather more shrunken oak than wispy willow) and my 77-year-old father, a retired NHS gynaecologist who once took eight wickets for four runs in a national cricket competition and played rugger (not rugby) for Marlborough and St Thomas’s. He has an undying loyalty to Aquascutum, based on the company’s assessment that his chest size was ‘43 athletic’.
The Rapide S is, in theory, a GT. It has four doors (the rear two artfully designed to the edge of invisibility) and four seats and so might be called a ‘2+2’. It has an enormous engine that generates about 550bhp, which can blast you to 190mph, the first 60 taking less than five seconds. It’s a super car, not as deemed by a motoring hack, actually super or, dare one say it, super-duper. It costs about £150,000.
It’s probably best not to judge it from the photograph. This car looks better in real life. And it’s enormous your garage will need to be about 23ft by 16ft if you want space to admire it from all angles. The grille signals intent, the back end (something Aston Martin has always been good at, unlike Jaguar) is foxy or possibly even equine as there are actual haunches and it’s what most people will see on the road.
However, the Aston Martin engineers got their sums wrong: 2+2 does not equal four, or even three. It must have taken thousands of hours of brilliance to create a car like this with four seats, but the time could perhaps have been saved because 2+2=2.
Even sitting behind the Hobbit like Editor, who had the front seat wound forward, and with allowances for me being 6ft 3in, it was very uncomfortable in the rear of the car.
The less-willowy-than-he-was Old Man took time to get in the back and swore blind it was okay when it was his turn, although it wasn’t. You could put two medium-rare children in there, but that’s it. And you could nip to the shops with a third person, but when would you bother?
For all the complaints about space, we all loved the car, even my father, whose interest in cars is limited. It’s designed for Country Life types. With two people, there’s ample space for suitcases and a few salmon rods lengthwise. You not only need a barn to keep it in, but also space from the neighbours because the noise on starting the engine is extraordinary, almost worth the purchase price on its own. In the way that you can’t imagine the sea until you’ve been there, so you can’t imagine the wonderful noise of the V12 5.9-litre engine on ignition it’s a real neighbour baiter.
Over the past few years, I’ve driven various cars. For practicality and performance, the hideous Porsche Panamera turbo had been top of my list, another four-door 2+2 GT. However, the Aston Martin is effortlessly superior in sound and vision, if not, perhaps, for the rear passengers.