Gaydon, Warwickshire - At a company with a century-old racing heritage such as Aston Martin, the competition division assumes a greater importance in the scheme of things than it would at, say, Leyland Truck & Bus. So when Aston Martin Racing turns its attention to the company’s Rapide luxury sedan, people listen.

And so they should. At the heart of the matter is the Rapide’s six-litre naturally aspirated V12, tweaked with upgrades from the Vantage GT12 that include larger inlet manifolds with tuned length dual inlet runners, an authoritative quad exhaust system (AMR unashamedly describes it as ‘raucous’) and revised engine and gearbox calibration to deliver a claimed 463kW and 630Nm. Performance is quoted at 0-100 in 4.4 seconds and 328km/h flat out

The suspension retains the three-stage adaptive dampers of the Rapide S, but with extensively revised spring and damping rates, and a 10mm lower ride. This is also the first Rapide with carbon ceramic brakes - 400mm at the front with six-piston calipers and 360mm at the rear with four pistons each - and the first Aston Martin of any kind with 21 inch wheels, which necessitated special Michelin Super Sport tyres, developed specifically for this car.

The Rapide AMR’s styling has changed very little from the concept that was shown at the 2017 Geneva motor show, its large grille echoing the track-only Vantage AMR Pro and circular daytime running lights recalling recent Zagato models. The aero kit components - splitter, sills, rear diffuser and boot lid lip spoiler - are all carbon fibre, as is the ventilated bonnet.

It’ll be available in three standard liveries: Standard, Silhouette and Signature. The Standard and Silhouette designs come in your choice of four colours - black , blue and two shades of silver - with lime green accents on the splitter, sills and rear diffuser in Standard trim and a full-length contrasting stripe in grey or white on the Silhouette. The Signature trim channels the factory racing livery in dark green with lime green accents and stripe.

The interior matches the colour you’ve chosen, with either lime green or silver contrast stitching and welting on the alcantara seats, AMR logos stitched into the upholstery and a full-length carbon-fibre centre console - also a first for a Rapide. Each car will come with a numbered inspection plaque (just 210 will be built) and AMR-branded carbon-fibre sill plates.

A One-77 style steering wheel is an option, and customers will also be able to use the bespoke Q by Aston Martin trim shop to further customise make their cars.

The Aston Martin Rapide AMR will be available worldwide (except Russia and China) from the final quarter of 2018, with prices starting at £194 950 (R3.48 million) ex factory in the UK; expect to pay about R6 million landed in South Africa.

IOL Motoring