What is it?
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430, the latest special edition model from the British GT and supercar manufacturer. Like most models entering their twilight years, the art of offering more kit for less money becomes increasingly important. Porsche was a master at it with the 997, and Lamborghini wrote the book with the Gallardo. Fortunately Aston Martin is proving rather adept at it, too.
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In a nutshell, the N430 is an up-contented 4.7-litre V8 Vantage S with a motorsport-inspired aesthetic makeover that adds eye-catching detailing to the exterior and interior. There’s a choice of paint schemes – yes, the bright flashes of contrasting colour are painted, not cheap vinyl – which take classic Aston Martin racers as their inspiration. Brake calipers are also colour-coded to each livery, while the lightweight forged alloy wheels look fabulous and fill the arches a treat.
As its name suggests, the N430 follows the previous N400 and N420 Nürburgring-themed editions. With a choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed single-clutch paddleshift transmission, mated to the 430bhp, 361lb ft V8 (up 10bhp on the Vantage S, with torque unchanged), this is a potent machine. The 190mph top speed suggests junior supercar performance, but the claimed 4.8sec 0-62mph time is perhaps a more accurate barometer of the N430’s brisk, but not ballistic performance potential.
What’s it like to drive?
Awkwardly rear-set gearlever aside (this ergonomic failing has always been a bugbear in manual Vantage models), the N430 is a tactile machine to operate. One benefit of an ageing platform is the car’s relative simplicity, which manifests itself most pleasingly in the form of feelsome hydraulic power-assisted steering. Its consistent weight and transparent feel give you an immediate connection with the car. Coupled to the aggressive (fixed, passive) suspension, this makes for a direct, unapologetically sporting ride and level of response.
The naturally aspirated 4.7-litre V8 never sounds less than purposeful, but is beginning to feel its age. It’s smooth and tractable enough, but it lacks the outright punch and immediacy of its price-point rivals. Consequently you need to work it hard to deliver the level of performance you expect for the money and from the brand, but it’s fun to wind that quirky anti-clockwise tacho needle round the dial, and you never tire of the soaring exhaust note, which really hollers in Sport mode.
Handling has always been a Vantage forte, and this remains true of the N430. The balance really is something special, with uncanny stability and neutrality, plenty of grip and tenacious traction. You can really lean on it along a challenging road, feeling for front-end grip, then chasing the throttle without fear of it biting back. Of course, if you agitate the car on turn-in you can make it slide, but it’s always done at your bidding, so you feel confident and in control. The brakes are strong and progressive, so you have plenty of confidence in the N430’s stopping power, too.
How does it compare?
The V8 8 Vantage offers a unique proposition these days, although there are many other big-engined Coupes competing for your money. The Porsche 911 is an obvious choice, with a similar amount of money getting a well-specced 3.8 Carrera S. Another rival that comes in at £93,710 is the V8-engined Audi R8, with a manual gearbox. On paper, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is also a worthy adversary – offering a similar V8, rear-drive and manual gearbox thrills. It is however considerably cheaper, coming in at just under £61,495. If you need similar performance with a more modern feel and slightly more spacious interior, the BMW M6 Coupe is also an option at £93,625.
Anything else I need to know?
On sale now at a starting price of £89,995 (and available in both Coupe and Roadster forms), the N430 is perhaps less money than you might expect from a car with such a powerful and appealing image. There’s no question it’s feeling its age, but rather like the Lamborghini Gallardo in the last years of its life, the Vantage still manages to feel relevant.
|Max power||430bhp @ 7300rpm|
|Max torque||361lb ft @ 5000rpm|
|0-60||4.8sec (claimed 0-62)|
|Top speed||190 (claimed)|