Aston Martin Vantage N430 Coupe (2014) CAR review

The ‘N’ stands for Nurburgring, and the 430 for the power output. The Aston Martin Vantage N430 signifies the next top-level version of the V8-powered coupe and Volante, taking over from the N420 and before that, N400 series of Nurburgring-inspired models.

Read on for our full Aston Martin Vantage N430 review.

Why does Aston name its Vantage N430 after a race track in Germany?

Aston Martin Racing celebrates 10 years in 2014, which has its base at the famous Nordschleife circuit, and the sportscar maker has just had two strong weekends of motorsport. Two weeks ago at Le Mans, it spanked Ferrari for a class victory, while yesterday at the Nurburgring 24-hour, its GT3 entry fended off a feisty BMW Z4 to claim an impressive fifth outright. Also on track, the N430 made its competition debut at the event, and finished second in its class.

Aston Martin Vantage N430 3

What about the Aston Martin Vantage N430 for the road?

Tear off the stickers, remove the roll-cage and the racecar is near identical to the new road car. There’s still the lipstick on the nose, and the coloured mirrors and pillar to set the N model apart, as well as graphite-finished forged alloys inspired, says Aston, by its CC100 concept from 2013. The metal grille and window surrounds are painted flat black, and the same exterior colour combos – green and yellow, red and blue, white and grey, plus two other ‘livery’ choices – are reflected inside with contrasting stitching in that shade, too.

With its alcantara steering wheel, Aston says that this is supposed to be a sports car, not a grand tourer, so has started with the short-wheelbase Vantage and its 4.7-litre V8. It’s upped the power by 10bhp through a valved airbox and changes to the fuel ‘strategy’, firmed up the suspension and shed 20kg with lightweight sports seats. There’s a choice of the six-speed manual we’re driving here, or a seven-speed robotised-manual ‘Sportshift II’ with black magnesium paddles for £5500 extra.

Aston Martin N430: performance, spec

On the road, the Vantage N430 is a treat. From the delicious warble at idle, the Vantage opens its lungs at around 3000rpm then all the way to the 7500rpm rev limiter, with a metallic rasp that has your right foot subconsciously staying flat a little longer, and you’ll hang on to lower gears from more noise, too, as it’s so encompassing. The response off the mark in the ‘Sport’ setting is solid, but not earth-shattering for the class of 2014: 0-62mph takes 4.8sec, and it continues pulling all the way to its 190mph top speed.

Aston Martin Vantage N430

This manual Vantage N430 suffers from a heavy clutch and dilutes the driving experience with the characteristically odd placement of the stubby shifter. It’s too far back from the otherwise good driving position (we chuckled at the weight-saving seats still having electric adjustment). As you accelerate, with the delivery smooth rather than brutal, the awkward body twist for the next gear makes you not as smooth as you could be. It’s a simple glitch which would annoy us every day…

Around town, you can be slow, delicate and make changes that cannot be felt, but the shifter’s woes are magnified when you’re tackling a winding road. Here, the N430 is a delight: its ride on the fixed (non-adaptive) suspension is compliant yet relatively supple, although we reckon it’ll be a bit hard on our rough UK roads, while the steering is superb. It has a little on-centre play, and needs a fair amount of lock to make things happen, but it means that at high-speed, it’s in its element. You’re not constantly tweaking the wheel to reposition the Vantage N430 in a corner, because it’s so composed, so stable and so obedient that the creamy steering is spot on.

That hydraulic steering might be a little heavy at slow speeds, but the N430 is best when having its neck wrung – this is a brutally fast point-to-point machine. That steering adds to the agile feeling, quick response and chuckability of the V8 Aston into a corner. There’s loads of lateral grip from the 295-section rear Bridgestones, and power down out of corners in the dry is near sublime.

The handling balance is quite neutral: you have to do all of your braking in a straight line, otherwise you can actually make this thing understeer, as the front end could do with more bite. Yet that composure, agility and powerful six-piston front brakes will have you pushing hard with full confidence that the show won’t fall apart should you need to pull up, or if a corner tightens up a little more than you expected.

The downsides of the Aston Vantage N430?

Take this either way: this model is not limited to 400 coupes and 400 Roadsters like the previous N models. That’s good – because if you want one, you can have one – but that means it’s not so exclusive.

Beside that, we all know that the Vantage has been on sale since 2005, and that every Aston is showing its age – and lack of cash investment – in the cabin’s equipment levels. It’s also exquisitely thirsty, with figures that reflect a small jet rather than something that’s still on the ground. A tank larger than 80-litres would help, but can hardly be packaged and will add heft.

Aston Martin Vantage N430 2

At £89,995, there’s a smaller hop from the Vantage V8 to this N430 than previous N models, and that also means it’s £5k more than the much younger Jaguar F-Type R Coupe.

Verdict

The N430 is a solid proposition: we reckon that it’s more fun on a winding road than an F-Type, and more civilised around town – but we’ll see who wins the stoush when we have them together on the same road, at the same time. The Aston is not as sharp as a Porsche 911, but Stuttgart’s legend is arguably more mainstream than the Aston. So while it’s admittedly showing its age, the N430 Vantage can still make you smile when you look at it, hear it, feel it and exploit it. It’s also not a big upsell from a regular V8 Vantage for something that little more special, making that price not so bad after all.

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