Aston V8 Vantage N430: Review

There's a small disclaimer to sign before driving the Aston V8 N430. It states that every review must not mention the Jaguar F-Type coupe until the last paragraph. And only once.

Don't forget the other V8 Brit coupe!
Don't forget the other V8 Brit coupe!
Alright, that's not strictly true but there's no escaping the V8 R is the (very pretty) elephant in the room when evaluating the latest iteration of V8 Vantage. The Jaguar is £85K against the Aston's £90K and boasts another 100hp, a more appealing interior and arguably an even greater 'want one' factor.

Does that render the Aston an inferior choice? Absolutely, unequivocally not.

Creaky leather
But there are compromises. It loses on showroom factor, for sure. In fact amongst a group of rivals including the 991 the Aston is on shaky ground. The V8's shape is still fabulously pretty, with the N430's liveries and CC100-inspired forged alloys complementing it well. But the interior is a real weak point now. The Alcantara wheel is gorgeous but the dash is outdated, complicated and fussy. Cars in this class could well be purchased as everyday sports cars and V8's cabin simply isn't good enough.

V8 remains terrific to drive hard
V8 remains terrific to drive hard
However, if a £90K coupe is being purchased as a driver's car, the N430 proffers a compelling case. This car is the first time the 436hp Vantage S V8 has been offered with a manual gearbox, theoretically creating the most drive focused V8 derivative yet.

Simple pleasures
Furthermore, if the interior hasn't managed to keep pace with a decade of development, the dynamics most definitely have. Yes, the N430 has a Sport mode to sharpen throttle response but it's fundamentally an uncomplicated car. Steering modes don't have to be configured and there are no programmable buttons on the wheel; it's simply a finely honed and fantastically engaging V8 RWD sports car. And if that doesn't appeal you're on the wrong website.

The steering grabs the attention first. With ePAS becoming the norm, to experience a well engineered hydraulic power steering system is a joy. The response isn't lightning fast but it's consistent and predictable, giving absolute confidence in what the front tyres are doing. And you can feel the road surface changes and variations in grip through the wheel, the communication again bolstering trust and confidence. It's superb.

Aston calls it lipstick so you can too
Aston calls it lipstick so you can too
Being significantly down on both power and torque means the N430 will never accelerate as ferociously as the F-Type. But again it counters with a more traditional yet equally appealing alternative; revs. The Aston's power and torque peaks are at 7,300 and 5,000rpm respectively (the Jaguar's peak torque is available from 2,500rpm) meaning it doesn't have the instantaneous response of the supercharged car. But since when was having to rev out a V8 deemed arduous labour?

Aural pleasure
Torque is good if not abundant at low revs but that only ensures the final 3,000rpm from 4,500 onwards feels even more special. The N430 may lack the searing top end of a 991 but the V8 is plentiful eager, responsive and exciting enough in its upper reaches. The V8 snarl remains captivating too, particularly on heel and toe down changes.

We weren't lucky enough to try it here!
We weren't lucky enough to try it here!
A point which leads very nicely to that manual gearbox. Despite an awkwardly sited lever and some occasionally notchy changes, the N430 driving experience is better for having a stick. The throw is short but quite heavy; shifts need to be deliberate and positive rather than lightly snicked across the gate.

But that matches the car's slightly old school approach that a fairly stiff clutch only augments further. It requires a little bit of work to acclimatise but that only serves to make the pleasure from changing gear well even greater. The V8 looks likely to be the last manual Aston too, a sad if not entirely unexpected situation.

Combining that powertrain and steering with a chassis that is beautifully damped and infinitely exploitable makes for a stellar sports car. The N430 would certainly not disgrace itself in a road test against the F-Type, 911 or R8.

Is that enough? Maybe. The V8 N430 is excellent to drive but then so are many of its rivals. The R8 and 911 have manual options as well. There's no doubt the Vantage is right up there dynamically and remains hugely charismatic, with a badge of enviable image. If that's still enough for you in the face of stiff competition from much fresher rivals then the N430 won't disappoint.

4,735cc V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual, RWD, limited-slip differential (7-speed Sportshift optional)
Power (hp): 436@7,300rpm
Torque (lb ft): 361@5,000rpm
0-62mph: 4.5 seconds
Top speed: 190mph
Kerbweight: 1,685kg (EU weight with 75kg driver)
MPG: 20.5 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 321g/km
Price: £89,995 (as tested OTR price £98,130 including £995 for Aston Martin 700W premium audio, £195 for auto dimming rear view mirror, £1,795 for sat-nav, £495 for heated front seats, £995 for front parking sensors, £995 for reversing camera, £295 for alarm upgrade, £495 for Bluetooth, £295 for cruise control (!) and £495 for memory seats).

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Comments (116) Join the discussion on the forum

  • TNH 24 Jun 2014

    Still absolutely love these. Not sure I could pick one over the new F Type though...

  • toppstuff 24 Jun 2014

    I know it is an old car. I guess it is easy to be rather too familiar with seeing them, so it becomes easier to reject it.

    But that really is a lovely thing. And a manual box, too.

    If I had a spare 100k, this would be very tempting. So much more enjoyable than Pork. Having a manual gives it a reason to exist rather than have the Jaguar.

    So, when you look at it that way, it really does not have any competition.

    I'd love one in green with yellow lipstick, please. smile

  • Wills2 24 Jun 2014

    I couldn't walk past that Aston for a Jag, ever.

  • Rawwr 24 Jun 2014

    I can't be the only person who thinks that looks like an absolute hog, surely?

  • toppstuff 24 Jun 2014

    Rawwr said:
    I can't be the only person who thinks that looks like an absolute hog, surely?
    As far as I am concerned, yes. It is lovely.

    It is a great homage to Astons of old:

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