Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Rapid drop-top Brit celebrates racing success with a host of desirable tweaks.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The N400 Roadster is one of the best-looking and sounding cars money can buy, although the tacky Nürburgring branding is a bit of a letdown. It’s still not the fastest thing money can buy for £100,000, but the pin-sharp handling and sense of occasion you feel simply by sitting in the Vantage more than makes up for that. The N400 is a gentle evolution of the standard car, yet it’s the small things that make all the difference.

What better way to prove your racing credentials than with a road car designed for the track? That’s exactly what Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage N400 Roadster has been made to do.

Built to celebrate Aston’s success at the Nürburgring 24-Hour endurance race, the drop-top joins a coupé version in the line-up. And it’s at the forefront of the firm’s efforts to tempt enthusiasts away from models such as the Porsche 911 and Audi R8.

The N400 gets styling tweaks, plus a more powerful engine and uprated suspension. An extra 20bhp has been squeezed from the 4.3-litre V8, which ups power to 400bhp, while torque jumps to 420Nm.

Other changes include the ‘Karussel Orange’ paint – it also comes in black and silver – plus new 19-inch alloys, reprofiled side sills and a map of the Nürburgring on the boot badge. The cabin is a high class affair, although the circuit layout stitched on the centre armrest is an acquired taste.

Despite the added power, the N400 still has the regular Vantage’s refined road manners – until you start exploring the top end of the rev range, that is. It’s here that those extra horses can be felt. Where the standard car runs out of puff, the N400 keeps charging to the red line.

Improvements to the suspension are equally subtle, but as the speed rises, the Vantage feels sure-footed and inspires confidence, while the steering has plenty of feedback. This is helped by a lack of flex in the chassis – in fact you’d be hard-pressed to tell the Roadster apart from the coupé in terms of driving dynamics. However, it’s the noise that really steals the show. Drop the top, and it’s a full-on assault on the senses. The exhaust note varies from booming at low revs to a savage shriek as you approach the limiter.

At £102,000, the manual version is £9,000 more than the standard car, while it’s another £3,000 if you specify the Speedshift automated manual gearbox. But prospective buyers had better be quick – only 240 examples each of the Roadster and coupé are planned for production.

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