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Aston Martin Vantage N430 First Drive

By raccars Published

Race-inspired Aston Martin takes the best bits from road and track, combines them with a great value list price and prepares itself for battle with Porsche and Jaguar…

  • Price: £89,995
  • Gearbox: Six speed manual (optional seven-speed Sportshift II)
  • 0-62mph: 4.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 189mph
  • Fuel economy: 20.4mpg
  • CO2: 321g/km
  • On sale: Now
  • Insurance group: 50

Three UK Aston Martin Vantage N430 facts

  • 1: Club Sport contrast paint is optional in other markets but standard in the UK. It takes 15 hours to complete.
  • 2: Mechanical spec closely mirrors the acclaimed V8 Vantage S.
  • 3: Car is not a limited edition, unlike previous ‘N’ editions. Aston Martin expects the majority of future Vantage sales to be N430.

What is it?

Aston Martin has been successfully racing for many years now. Its modern-era record in motorsport is glittering, and includes multiple Le Mans entries plus domination of the hugely popular Nurburgring 24 Hour race. Now, a bit of the former and a heavy dose of the latter that have been used to create its latest rather special V8 Vantage model…

The Aston Martin Vantage N430 is not a limited edition special, but a new addition to the range that is intended to give its smallest model a lift. The V8 Vantage is not in its first flush of youth so a refresh is just what’s needed to remind people it’s still on sale.

One glance at the Vantage V430 and you’ll be in no doubt the Aston’s still here… it’s unmissable! Offered in a choice of five colour combinations (all hand-painted), it is a vibrant and standout addition to the range that Aston hopes will go head to head with the Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-Type Coupe.

Mechanically, it takes the engine and suspension from the highly acclaimed Vantage S variant, combining it with a manual gearbox for the first time (a Sportshift II semi-auto is optional). Factor in a bargain price of £89,995 – around £5,000 less than the Vantage S – and you have something that is suddenly a rather appealing on-paper prospect. Question is, can this Vibrant Aston Martin challenge its more modern rivals with the same clarity?

Styling and interior

Aston Martin has painted the grille surround and roof ‘cant rails’ of the Vantage N430. This is a manual, labour-intensive process that achieves a very high level of finish: the colour contrasts are not add-on sticker packs! Choose one of five combinations – green and yellow, blue and red, black and silver, white and red, silver and white.

The paint finish is set off by a black finish for many other parts of the car: grille, wheels, window surrounds, door mirrors. There’s a black inlay for the headlights and clear surrounds for the rear lights too. Even the exhaust tips have a high-tech black finish.

Inside, it’s not quite as outlandish. Aston says its customers prefer black-themed interiors in Vantage models, rather than bright and outlandish contrast schemes. There’s thus lots of charcoal Alcantara and piano black, although owners can choose to have some subtle contrast-colour stitching sewn into the leather, with a few bright highlights for the seats and trim panels, if they wish.

This makeover transforms the V8 Vantage. It’s a very familiar shape now – the car was introduced back in 2005 – but this sports-look overhaul gives it some race-bred kudos and helps modernise the appearance (even if it can’t fully compensate for the dated interior’s fiddly controls, poor sat nav and general feeling of agedness). And, besides, it IS still an Aston Martin…

Performance

The Aston Martin Vantage N430 uses a 436hp 4.7-litre V8 that itself feels race-bred. It makes a wonderful sound and delivers a very precise and exciting driving experience… but you certainly need to rev it to extract its best. Pulling hard from low revs is not its forte.

This is in contrast to the full-range muscularity of some forced-induction rivals, most notably the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, and means you have to use the mechanical-feeling gearchange rather a lot (because of this, you may consider choosing the seven-speed semi-auto instead). Boy, it’s worth doing so though, because this remains a truly great V8.

The noise is absolutely fantastic, all high-intensity howl and wail, while the sheer effervescence it displays at high revs is incredibly thrilling. Effective, too: despite taking a few revs to get into its stride, the Aston still clocks 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds.

Handling

The Vantage N430’s chassis complements the engine perfectly. It too feels like a road-going race car, with tremendous feel and involvement from the all-aluminium machine. It is lithe, crisp and accurate, flooding the driver with sensations and responding promptly to commands.

Indeed, it takes you a bit to get used to the car’s sheer response, despite the low and race-like driving position: it’s not normal for road cars to feel this pure. But gear into it and the Aston’s beautiful handling will delight and entertain terrifically.

The Vantage S’s rear-drive handling was always top draw and highly acclaimed, and this derivative of this replicates such high standards. Even the ride quality benefits from it, thanks to fine damping and body control at high speed: the only time you may find any cause for complaint is in town, when it occasionally patters over potholes and ripples. It really is no big deal.

Price and value

Aston Martins are expensive cars. They are ‘British Ferraris’, with a brand image not far shy of the Maranello masters, and a premium will always be changed for this. But, in the case of the Vantage N430, it’s far from outrageous. The car starts at £89,995 which, for something that offers as many bespoke details as this, and which drives as well as it does, seems pretty decent.

It’s an ageing car, of course, but it’s also an Aston Martin, and one with a very special hand-finished paint job as well. It’s in the ballpark of its rivals and, in some areas, offers value beyond what they do, because of the badge on its nose. It’s certainly much more affordable than many will first expect.

Fuel economy

Racecar engine, racecar fuel economy? The Vantage N430 averages just 20.4mpg, which is borderline appealing when Porsches of similar potency can return 50% more. Fuel efficiency is not the Aston’s strongest suit whatsoever – needless to say, you’ll look in vain for fuel-saving gadgetry such as stop-start, too…

Verdict: Aston Martin Vantage N430

The Aston Martin Vantage N430 is a beauty. To look at, certainly (and a choice of five combinations should ensure all favourite colours are covered), but also to drive too. It feels just as much of a race car as it looks.

With its newfound high-value pricing, it’s now a genuine alternative to newer rivals such as the Porsche 911 Carrera S and Jaguar F-Type Coupe R. OK, it’s ageing, and this is particularly felt inside, but generally it hasn't withered it. Aston Martin’s entry-level special is now one of the finest cars it sells.

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