Driven: Aston Martin Vantage N420

What with all the racy versions of the Porsche 911 doing the rounds at the moment (to wit Garlick's recent drive of the rather lovely GT3), it would be easy to imagine that Porsche rather had the hardcore hundred-grand sports coupe market to itself.

But this is a contention with which Aston Martin would respectfully disagree. Because leaning on the ropes in the British Racing Green corner, looking to give the 'rump-engined Jerry' a bloodied nose is a rather mean-looking Aston Martin Vantage.

It's called the N420 and, although a limited edition (yup, you guessed right, 420 will be made), this is to the regular Aston Vantage V8 what the GT3 is to a Carrera 2.

Well - broadly speaking. Actually, you can make your 'base' V8 into an N420 clone, more or less, by a judicious plundering of the Aston Martin options lists, although it will cost you more than buying the 'proper' model. Unlike the GT3 Porsche, the N420 engine has not got any more power than its more ordinary brethren, although the new sports exhaust system will liberate a wee bit of extra power.

In any case, the 4.7-litre V8's 420bhp at 7000rpm and 346lb ft at 5750rpm is certainly more than respectable. And besides, the engine is as much a musical instrument as a means of propulsion.

The V8 Vantage's motor has always been blessed with the sort of voice that could make the burliest of rugby players cry with happiness, and the new exhaust gives it an even more soulful note. The noise by-pass now opens somewhere around 3500rpm, and the note itself has somehow been tuned to resemble a straight six out of a 1950s Aston Le Mans racer - seriously.

Apart from the exhaust, other tweaks for the N420 include carbon fibre for the splitter, diffuser and side strakes, various bits of black mesh, 19in alloys, side sills from the old N400 special edition, front parking sensors and graphite exhaust tips.

Inside there are lightweight bucket seats (though they're still electrically adjustable), Alcantara on the steering wheel, and a sill plaque (just to remind you how special you are). Oh, and you also get a sports suspension pack, lest you should think this is a purely cosmetic package.

Talking of cosmetic packages, our test car came with the optional race collection paint scheme - in black 'lipsticked' Asia Cup livery - which adds 22 extra man hours to the paint process (taking it up to 72 hours), and sets customers back an extra £4750.

Without the extra paint work, the N420 coupe costs £96,995, £8k more than the standard car.

But is it worth it? Erm - yes. I think. That engine note and the sharper suspension do combine to make driving the Vantage hard a sharper, more involving experience - but not by all that much.

Whether you think it's worth it depends on how you like your Astons. And if you like them comfy and cruisy, well, you'll probably want a DB9 anyway. If you want a Vantage, chances are you'll want the extra pointiness that the N420 brings. In which case an extra £8k doesn't seem all that much, really.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (56) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Oddball RS 27 Aug 2010

    VERY very nice, but a GT3 it aint.

  • ewenm 27 Aug 2010

    Oddball RS said:
    VERY very nice, but a GT3 it aint.
    Absolutely, much rarer wink

  • The real Apache 27 Aug 2010

    no video? no soundtrack?

  • Kenzle 27 Aug 2010

    ' 'lipsticked' Asia Cup livery - which adds 22 extra man hours to the paint process ... and sets customers back an extra £4750'

    £4750!? Over 200 quid an hour?

  • Shinobi 27 Aug 2010

    Oddball RS said:
    VERY very nice, but a GT3 it aint.
    Thank god it's not. It's an Aston!

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