The V8 Vantage N430 offers power and fun rolled into a good-looking package
Aston Martin with an ad-Vantage The Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430, available in both coupe and soft-top, boasts an attractive and busy cockpit. -- PHOTO: ASTON MARTIN

To commemorate its good showing - fifth place overall - at this year's 24 Hours of Nurburgring endurance race and to further cement its ties between its race and road cars, Aston Martin has released a special variant of its V8 Vantage, the N430.

This is not the first time the automaker has released a special N-badged version of its V8 Vantage. It started in 2007 with the 400bhp N400 and, in 2010, there was the N420 that packs 420bhp. This time around, the N430 has, you guessed it, 430bhp.

The output from the N430's 4.7-litre V8 is identical to that of the V8 Vantage S, but where the two differ is in aesthetics, with the N430, available in coupe and soft-top guises, firmly treading the unsubtle path.

For example, the car I drove is painted midnight-blue, which is normal enough, but the red accents sprinkled liberally on the car's interior and exterior certainly are not normal.

If that still is not loud enough for you, you could have the N430 in Alloro Green with retina-searing yellow accents.

Other differences over the V8 Vantage S include a 20kg weight-saving, achieved in part through the use of lightweight Kevlar-composite seats - upholstered in Alcantara and leather - and 19-inch forged alloys.

Aston Martin says the N430 is very much inspired by its GT4-class race cars (essentially road-going cars with the barest of modifications, mainly for safety) and the carmaker is not too far off the mark.

If the loud paint scheme is not a big enough clue, there is an equally loud exhaust note and uprated suspension settings that border on being overly firm.

All told, the N430's cockpit is a busy place and the car demands your full attention at all times, with the steering tugging when encountering off-camber ruts.

And you would best be "switched on" when prodding the throttle, too. Unlike some other naturally aspirated cars that come alive only at the furthest reaches of their rev range, the N430's motor, thanks to its relatively flat torque curve, pulls strongly from 3,000rpm all the way to its redline, with the ferocious bark from the exhaust becoming more urgent along the way.

The specifications of 430bhp and a zero-to-100kmh time of 4.8 seconds may not seem special for a sports car these days, but on the open road, I do not think the N430 falls short in the power department, or in the fun department.

Thanks to the engine's generous spread of torque and the 7-speed automated manual's lowered final-drive ratio, the N430 is capable of making B-road blasts properly riotous.

Granted, the gearbox makes for slightly lurchy progress at low speeds and, as a result of the uprated suspension settings, poorer road surfaces will jostle occupants around a fair bit, but on the whole, the N430 left a silly grin on my face most of the time.

I felt at one with the car, as if it was an extension of myself, which is a rare sensation to feel, with only a handful of sports car manufacturers managing this feat.

For the Aston Martin devotee, or if you are the sort who eschews big-headline power figures and instead craves an immersive driving experience in a charismatic car with a brilliantly sorted chassis, the N430 is hard to beat.