Aston Martin Magazine
The article below is taken from the latest issue of the Aston Martin Magazine, our exclusive quarterly publication available now in print subscription or app format.
Vantage N430 - Making A Mark
With its sporty pedigree and good looks, the V8 Vantage N430 special edition is quite at home on the winding roads and chic neighbourhoods of Monaco. Written by Simon de Burton.
It may be the world’s second smallest country after Vatican City, but Monaco has a remarkably strong connection with fast motor cars. Measuring barely three miles long by a mile-and-a-half wide, the principality is perhaps best known for its Grand Prix, first run in 1929 and won by celebrated English racing driver and spy William Grover-Williams. He’d had a distinct advantage growing up in the place and had taken his driving test on the very roads that formed the circuit.
Today, the narrow, winding, dipping, climbing roads where Grover-Williams grew up connect the bustling low-lying harbours with the lofty old town of Monaco-Ville where, if you stand for long enough, will lead you to believe that this is where most of the world’s exotic cars end up. As a result, it takes a truly impressive automobile to turn the head of the average Monégasque—which says a thing or two about the latest addition to the Aston Martin stable, the shamelessly racy Vantage N430.
Stepping through the doors of Nice airport, it was easy to spot the N430, not least because of the vibrant yellow hue accenting the “lipstick” grille surround, snaking up the A-pillars and cant rails, swathing the rear diffuser blade and door mirror caps.
The main body of the car, clothed in a gorgeous cloak of the Alloro green paint originally developed for the rare, Zagato-bodied Aston Martins, had fought valiantly to tone things down, but to little avail. The smartphone cameras were already out, their owners delighted at seeing this latest take on the V8 Vantage on the road for the very first time.
For my part, I was a little concerned that the N430 might just be a bit too aggressive for a rush-hour run to Monaco. Lower and tauter than the standard car, it has evolved from the GT4 racers that, for almost the past decade, have been a regular sight at the gruelling Nürburgring 24-hour race, hence the “N” in the title.
The 4.7-litre V8 engine, which powers all Aston Martin’s GTE and GT4 race cars with only minimal specification changes, releases an extra 10 horsepower and 20 more Newton metres of torque, providing an enhanced top speed of 190mph, and sports suspension with upgraded anti-roll bars, stiffer springs and revised damping rates as standard.
Add to that lightweight, 10-spoke alloy wheels and wide-profile sills derived directly from the N24 race car programme to improve stability and one gets the distinct impression that the N430 is decidedly more “track” than “road”.
All the same, its boot swallowed our bags well enough, leaving them hidden beneath its Q by Aston Martin carbon-fibre parcel shelf. And, once settled inside, the special Kevlar and carbon race-style seats quickly demonstrated that lightweight doesn’t necessarily have to mean lack of comfort.
Firing the car up and heading for Monaco, we eschewed the autoroute in favour of the cliff-top- climbing corniche and quickly discovered that the N430 has a true Jekyll and Hyde personality: given its head, it devours tarmac and joins up curves like the true racer from which it is derived. However, once among the crawling traffic heading into a Monaco congested by construction work and crowds heading for the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tennis, it quietly resigned itself to a life at walking pace.
By coincidence, just the day before I had been travelling in the Aston Martin DBS that served as the wheels of Roger Moore’s character Lord Brett Sinclair in the cult 1970s television series The Persuaders!. In the first episode, Sinclair makes the same 15-mile run from Nice to Monaco in the DBS in an artistically licenced, traffic-free, two-and-half minutes.
It took us 90 in a 21st-century tailback, but the N430 never grumbled, delivering us without fuss to our destination, the Fairmont Hotel in Monte Carlo. Another 1970s creation, the hotel is considered a remarkable example of modernist architecture. Built on 15-metre pillars, it incorporates 60,000 square metres of space on seven floors with a heating and air-conditioning system that draws water from the sea, 40 metres below.