Special edition tweaks to engine and suspension improve Vantage package, but at a cost.

What is it?

A special edition produced to celebrate Aston Martin’s efforts in the Nurburgring 24Hr race, where for the past two years Aston have entered N24 race cars in the SP8 class. Based on the Vantage, the N400 costs an extra £11,000 and is available as coupe or roadster and with either manual or sportshift transmission. This buys a, unique to this model, power and torque upgrade (an extra 20bhp produced 200rpm higher, and 12lbft extra torque), a sneak preview of an, as yet not available, Sports Pack for the Vantage (new spring, shock ratings and lightweight wheels) and some dubious cosmetic tweaks.

Is it any good?

To say anything with a 380bhp 4.3 V8 is underpowered, might sound like nitpicking, but if there is a flaw in the standard Vantage package it is that it’s a little light on outright punch. It does fast, no problem, but is not quite as decisively rapid as you might expect from an Aston. The N400 power upgrade addresses this, adding a layer of extra midrange flex, plus a more urgent top-end. Together they make the Vantage both quicker to respond and more thrilling to exploit.

A shame then, that our test car was blighted with Aston’s less than brilliant Sportshift gearbox, with its slow speed clumsiness. Given the advances Aston have made with the manual transmission since the Vantage’s original launch, we’d strongly recommend specifying your Vantage with three pedals.

The N400’s suspension changes show that firmer doesn’t always mean less comfortable. While the higher rated springs mean the N400 reacts more quickly to uneven surfaces, the lighter wheels (reducing unsprung mass) and better damped tuning mean this movement is better controlled. The result that at speed over a challenging road, the N400 rides with less harshness, producing less head toss, than the standard Vantage.

The N400 visual addenda, the Nurburging circuit map stitched into the armrest, clear rear light lenses and mirco-spin alloy veneer interior are a matter of personal taste, but if you don’t want to go for the Karussel Orange paintwork (exclusive to this car), there is the option of more subtle Bergwerk Black or Lightening Silver.

Should I buy one?

With only 480 N400s pencilled for production, whatever you decide, you’ll have to be quick. To our minds the £11k premium looks steep, pushing the price of Aston’s smallest model nearly into six figures.

The better and more relevant news hidden within this special edition, is that the successful suspension changes will soon be available as a option on all Vantages, and priced at a more realistic £2495. It’s just a shame that engine tweaks won’t be similarly available.

Jamie Corstorphine

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