Aston Martin V8 Vantage N420

Is new track-inspired special the ultimate racer for the road?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The V8 Vantage has been with us for five years now, but Aston Martin is showing Lotus-like ingenuity in creating fresh versions of familiar models. Combining a great chassis plus interior and styling upgrades with unique signature details, the N420 is an exciting and appealing car. Whether many customers opt for the more extreme ‘race collection’ schemes remains to be seen, yet no matter what the colour, the N420 makes a great car that little bit more desirable.

Aston is bringing its racing know-how to the road! This is the Vantage N420, the latest limited edition inspired by the company’s adventures at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Based on the ‘baby’ of Aston’s range, it features an extensive standard equipment package, plus unique detailing.

There is also the choice of ‘race collection’ livery. Our car wore the Asia Cup colour scheme, complete with colour-co-ordinated black cantrails and ‘lipstick’ around the radiator grille. Other options include Rose Yellow, Kermit Green and Elwood Blue, as worn by the firm’s N24 racers.

A carbon fibre front splitter, rear diffuser and a pair of side strakes and wider sills add to the racing theme. Completing the exterior makeover is a set of gloss black, 10-spoke, diamond-turned alloys plus dark grey exhaust pipes and badges. Inside, a pair of lightweight seats help shave a whopping 27kg from the V8 Vantage’s kerbweight.

Legendary

The lower and stiffer Sport Pack suspension sharpens the N420’s responses, while a sports exhaust emits an even more inspiring note than normal. The engine and box (a choice of six-speed manual or Sportshift sequential manual) remain untouched – so, the Aston offers 420bhp and 470Nm of torque, covers 0-62mph in less than five seconds and hits 180mph.

Our model came with the optional Sportshift, but we prefer the traditional H-pattern manual: Aston’s ageing paddleshift box is no match for the very latest sequential manual or double-clutch transmissions.

The ride is never less than firm, and on bad surfaces can be pretty punishing, but this doesn’t prevent the N420 from being a great long-distance car. However, it really comes into its own on fast, swoopy A and B-roads, where you can revel in its predictable balance, exploitable handling and that exuberant soundtrack.

By any normal benchmark the N420 has formidable performance, made all the more usable by its compact size. You sit low, which means visibility isn’t quite as panoramic as you’d like, but once you learn to look beyond the arc of the A-pillars you soon find you can place the Vantage easily and accurately on the road.

The 4.7-litre V8 isn’t as free-revving as a Porsche 911’s flat-six, but what it lacks in top-end zing it works hard to compensate for with meaty reserves of mid-range response. The powerful disc brakes are a match for such pace, and even stand up well to occasional track use – although they will begin to grumble if you confuse the N420 with something as track-focused as a 911 GT3.

Prices are yet to be confirmed, but expect an £8,000 premium over a base V8 Vantage Coupé or Roadster. Not cheap compared to rivals – although if you add up the value of the N420’s standard-fit options it’s a pretty good deal, especially given this distinctive special edition’s exclusivity.

Rival: Porsche 911 GT3 RS For those with £100,000 to spend, Porsche’s thrilling 911 GT3 RS is more of a truly authentic road racer. It’s not as handsome as the Aston, but is faster and more focused.

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