Aston Martin V8 Vantage N400 Roadster (2008) review

Published:07 May 2008

Aston Martin V8 Vantage N400 Roadster (2008) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
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  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

Earlier this year Aston Martin unveiled the coupe version of their N400 V8 Vantage – built to commemorate the company’s fledgling efforts in long distance production-based racing with the Vantage N24 – but now they’ve built a drop-top version, and as with the coupe N400, it’s limited to 240 units. The bad news, unless you’ve already got your name on the order book, is that they’re all sold.

Remind me – what do you get with an Aston Martin V8 Vantage N400?

Good things, like an extra 20bhp thanks to some ECU trickery - taking the car up to a nice round 400bhp along with 309lb ft (it was 302lb ft) of torque - and the new ‘Sports Pack’ that features revised dampers, springs, lightweight forged wheels and on the coupe, a new rear anti roll bar. On the outside, your colour choice is limited to Karussell Orange (a surprisingly deep hue under certain lights, not unlike tomato soup, but gorgeous nevertheless), Bergwerk Black and Lightning Silver (why not Schwedenkreuz Silver or something with a ‘Ring association?); revised rear lights and a new design of sills.

On the inside there’s a unique alloy facia, contrasting stitching, numbered sill plates and plenty of would-be-options such as a premium sound system and sat-nav. However, not so good is the stitched outline of the ‘Ring on the armrest and the tacky boot badge: you can have too much of a good thing, after all. Still, we’re being picky now…

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster N400 first drive review

Is it worthy of its link with the world’s greatest racetrack though?

This is a genuinely desirable car, seducing you on sight and then sealing the deal with a whip-crack flare of revs from the vocal V8, itself a more energetic and spirited partner now for fast driving. What these tweaks haven’t done is overcome one of the main shortcomings of the Vantage: its lack of convincing midrange wallop. You still need to nail the V8 everywhere if you’re to really feel the performance, and while that is an entirely enjoyable pastime, it does make the car quite hard work and rather toothless when compared to some rivals. We’ll have to wait for the revised Vantage and its new 4.7-litre engine to really solve this problem, but the motor tweaks here are a welcome addition.

And there’s more good news with the Sports pack, because although the low-speed ride has deteriorated somewhat, the trade off is much better control when you’re pushing the car harder, specifically with the behaviour of the rear axle. This is the most planted V8 yet, and easily the most confidence inspiring to drive quickly.

So the N400 stuff works - even with the roof chopped off?

You might think that such ‘Ring homage clashes with the essence of a Roadster, but then it’s best not to view this car as a 911 GT3 rival, more like a Vantage Roadster with the balance tipped ten per cent away from cruising and nodding towards outright performance. Yes, the structure does quiver occasionally over the worst bumps, but that’s just the inevitable trade off if you want to work on your tan and it’s remarkably solid in the main. As a Roadster the standard V8 gets all the fundamentals just about perfect: the N400 just makes those open-air moments all the more enjoyable.

Click 'Next' below to read more of our Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster N400 first drive review

Verdict

The N400 may have already barked its way into Aston Martin’s back catalogue, but its influence will spread further. The Sports Pack should go on sale later this year as an option on the regular car, and even as a retrofit at Aston dealers. And you can be sure that the revised V8 Vantage launched later this month will incorporate many of the lessons learnt here. It should do: the N400 is the best V8 yet…

Specs

Price when new: £102,000
On sale in the UK: Sold out
Engine: 4280cc 32v V8, 400bhp @ 7300rpm, 309lb ft @ 5000rpm
Transmission: Robotised six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 4.9sec 0-60mph, 177mph, 18.7mpg, 360g/km
Weight / material:
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4380/2025/1255

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