Even to the bloke in the van in front of me at the filling station this morning, the Alloro Green and yellow paint job on AMV 8, Aston Martin’s N430 Vantage press demonstrator was instantly recognisable.
“I love Astons, beautiful aren’t they?” he declared as I topped-up its tank. “What’s the top-end on this one?”
I’m afraid I can’t print what he said after I told him the N430 was good for 190mph (where conditions allow of course), but I’ve no doubt he was suitably impressed. Even more so I’d say when the Vantage’s front-mounted V8 shattered the morning silence on start-up. Judging by his reaction I think it made his day.
Alloro green and yellow is indeed synonymous with Aston Martin. The all-conquering DBR’s of the 1950’s, raced by the likes of gentleman drivers Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks and Peter Collins wore the same livery, as did the CC100, the Speedster designed especially to celebrate Aston Martin’s centenary. It’s no wonder then, that’s it one of five racing-inspired ClubSport Graphics packs that you can choose for this, the latest incarnation of their V8 Vantage.
Designed to celebrate the brand’s racing success in the GT4 class – the N stands for Nurburgring, the infamous German circuit known as the Green Hell; the 430 for the engine’s output in bhp – the N430 slots neatly in between the standard Vantage and the harder-faster Vantage S. Further features to help distinguish it from it’s brethren include brake calipers in the same colours as the mirrors and cant rails, darkened grille and window surrounds, discreet N430 badging, and some exquisite lightweight forged alloys wheels that fill the Vantages arches perfectly. It really does look rather striking – hence perhaps White Van Man’s ardour.
Inside there’s further colour co-ordination. The lighter hip-hugging sports seats and the dashboard get stitching to match the exterior detailing, and the carbon fibre dash insert and Alcantara topped instrument cowl are darkened too. Surprisingly, mechanical enhancements are limited: The N430 gets the same non-adjustable suspension set-up as the Vantage S, a valved airbox and improved fueling boost power by 10bhp whilst the torque levels remain unchanged, and there’s an overall weight reduction of 20kg.
But why change a winning formula? Vantages have always been good to drive.
You sit low, almost endurance racer low. Your knees higher than your bum; the view forward framed by the thick leather-clad A-pillars. Every control, be it the steering, the long travel throttle, the heavy clutch, or the stubby and slightly awkwardly positioned gear lever demand positive and accurate inputs. Yet despite what you might think the N430 doesn’t intimidate you. The ride is firm rather than hard, the power delivery smooth rather than brutal. By today’s super-car standards, from a standstill it’s not really that quick: 0-62 takes 4.8 seconds, some saloon cars are faster.
Few though feel quite as balanced and composed. You can switch it to sport mode, work the sonorous sounding V8 hard, and slide it around if that’s your wish. Or you can relax a little and revel in the engine’s laid back nature and the gloriously communicative steering, and flow from corner to corner. The brakes are superb. The N430 inspires.
It’s not all perfect though. In places the Vantage – even the N430 – is beginning to show its age. The sat-nav is awkward, the buttons for the radio and demister are tiny and although beautiful to look at, the dials are incredibly hard to read – thank goodness there’s a smaller digital speedo as well. I thought it better not to tell my new-found friend that the N430 isn’t a limited edition special like it’s N400 and N420 forebears were either, and that indicators and mirror switches bear a very similar resemblance to those in his Transit, but both are true.
Nevertheless, limited production run or not, and Ford sourced switchgear aside, the N430 has a class and feel to it that few of its contemporaries can match. Whether you get the chance to drive it, or simply just catch it you rear-view mirror on a misty morning, it’s more than capable of making you smile all day long.
|Model tested: Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430|
Engine: 4.7-litre V8 petrol
Top speed: 190 mph
0-62 mph: 4.8 seconds
Power: 430 bhp (436 PS)
Torque: 361 ft-lb (490 Nm)
|Combined fuel economy: 20.5 mpg
Road Test economy: N/A
CO2 Emissions: 321 g/km
VED Band: M / £500 per year
Car insurance group: 50 (Est)
Kerb weight: 1,610 kg