2014 Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430 review
We try Aston’s special edition V8 Vantage, the N430, which borrows most of its oily bits from the Vantage S but costs some £7000 less to buy...
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage is rapidly approaching its 10th birthday, which is a ripe old age in the modern supercar business. However, with no replacement due until at least 2018, the old Aston still has a few years of service ahead of it.
Cue this new N430 edition, one of several limited-run Vantage models we’ll no doubt see over the coming months and years, all with the aim of tempting buyers away from newer rivals, including as the Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-type V8 R.
The N430 is effectively a V8 Vantage S, because it uses the same 430bhp engine as that car, as well as its sportier suspension. However, unlike the S (which gets Aston’s single-clutch Sportshift gearbox as standard) the N430 comes with a six-speed manual, which partly explains why it's £7000 cheaper to buy.
The N430 also has an unusual colour scheme, with highlights around its grille and matching accents on its roof and door mirrors. Don’t like the green and yellow in the pictures? Well, don't worry, because there are five other combinations to choose from, including blue with red highlights, and a more subtle black and silver colour scheme.
What's the Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430 like to drive?
Gearbox aside, the N430 isn’t any different to drive than a regular Vantage S. Its old-school V8 engine delivers plenty of punch at low revs and really starts to loosen up above 4500rpm, at which point the speed starts to build pretty rapidly.
The N430 is clearly fast, then, but if you’ve driven an entry-level Porsche 911 Carrera (let alone the similarly priced Carrera S) you’re unlikely to be blown away. The Aston never feels brutally quick, no matter how hard you rev its glorious-sounding engine.
Progress isn’t helped by the heavy and notchy manual gearbox, which really doesn’t like being rushed. However, it’s still preferable to the optional (and decidedly jerky) Sportshift semi-auto (£5000).
The N430 is some 20kg lighter than the standard Vantage, thanks to various weight-saving measures, but it still weighs considerably more than a Porsche 911 or an Audi R8. It doesn’t hide that weight especially well, either, being more reluctant to change direction than its German rivals.
Being old-fashioned does have some advantages, though – particularly when it comes to steering. That’s because while the majority of modern cars have fully electric racks, the Aston’s is still powered by hydraulics, which helps give a better sense of connection with the road.
True, you have to apply plenty of lock to get round tight corners, but the Vantage is a still great fun to drive along a typical country road – you just won’t be travelling quite as quickly as you would in most similarly priced rivals.
The Aston’s relatively small footprint also makes it pretty easy to thread through narrow city streets, which certainly isn’t the case with all high-end supercars. Don’t expect the ideal town car, though – the N430’s heavy clutch makes it a pain to drive in stop-start traffic.
There’s also the ride, which is never agonisingly firm or crashy, but not exactly comfortable, either. A Porsche 911 – particularly with the optional PASM adaptive suspension fitted – glides over bumps and potholes with far more composure.
Things are pretty comfortable at speed, although as with most high-end sports cars, the Aston’s big wheels and tyres generate plenty of road noise on the motorway.
What's the Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430 like inside?
This is where the Vantage is really starting to show its age. There are far too many small, confusing buttons on the dashboard and the infotainment system is incredibly confusing. In fact, it's one of the worst systems fitted to any modern sports car.
We’d defy anyone not to feel special behind the wheel, though. There’s an undeniable feel-good factor derived from sitting in the well-shaped, low-slung driver’s seat, peering down that long bonnet and surveying the outside world through the shallow side window.
With that in mind, though, it’s a pity some of the cabin materials don't feel a little more special. The plastickly gearknob and surrounding gaiter, for example, are very disappointing and some of the switchgear is unnervingly similar to what you’ll find in many Volvos.
Unlike the rival Porsche 911, the Vantage is strictly for two. However, there’s a decent amount of space behind those seats for stowing small bags and jackets, and the main boot is also pretty large by sports car standards – a set of golf clubs will slot in easily enough.
If you’re hoping Aston has loaded the N430 with kit to boost its appeal even further then prepare to be disappointed. You get air-conditioning, electric front windows and rear parking sensors, but have to pay extra for Bluetooth (£495), sat-nav (£1795) or even cruise control (£295), all of which come as standard on the Vantage S.
Should I buy one?
The harsh truth is that a Porsche 911 Carrera can accelerate, stop and corner with far greater ability than the N430 could even dream of, and when you consider the Porsche is also more practical, smarter inside and considerably cheaper to buy, it's clear the Aston’s appeal is limited.
It gets worse for the Vantage, though, because even other ageing stalwarts such as the Audi R8 are considerably more capable, just as engaging and cost about the same once you’ve factored in the extra Aston charges for things such as sat-nav and Bluetooth, which really should be standard.
So, while the Aston’s timeless looks, muscular V8 engine and natural-feeling steering give it lasting appeal, the N430 doesn’t address enough of the car’s inherent flaws to improve its standing.
If you're dead set on an Vantage (and we wouldn't blame you), stick with the regular V8 model and head to an internet broker, such as Drivethedeal.com, where you'll pay less than £77k.
At that price the Aston makes more sense.
What Car? says...
Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430
Engine size 4.7-litre V8 petrol
Price from £89,995
Torque 361lb ft
0-62mph 4.8 seconds
Top speed 190mph
Fuel economy 20.5mpg
CO2 output 321g/km