THERE ARE worse things in life than getting lost during a test drive in an Aston Martin. And there are many things worse than being off course driving an N420.

But what’s an N420? Well, it’s basically a V8 Vantage special-edition inspired by the Nürburgring race circuit in Germany. In other words it’s lighter, sharper and noisier than the standard model. And why was I lost? My esteemed co-driver, Liam Bird and I were so enthusiastic about the car that Liam’s map reading skills suddenly evaporated. But did we care? No we didn’t.

Why were we in this monster in the first place though?  Well, a very nice chap from Aston Martin decided to invite a few of us motoring writers to Gaydon in Warwickshire to check out the Aston Martin factory and drive a car or two. I’d been to the factory before, but it still blew me away. The sheer level of care that goes into making the exquisite looking sports cars is almost beyond belief.

Aston Martin production processes involve so many man hours because these cars are genuinely hand built. Even the hand-stitched interior leather is sourced from barbed-wire free cattle fields – the idea being that it reduces the risk of imperfections in the hide. The cars even have to earn their ‘wings’; the iconic Aston Martin winged badge, which is made in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, is the last thing to be added to the car – but only after rigorous testing and checks to ensure 100% perfection.

Aston Martin’s people certainly look after you and make you realise what a truly iconic British brand it is, but the real test of any product is to experience it for yourself, so that’s how I found myself in the N420. The car was screaming to be tested and my driving partner was obviously drooling to get into the special-edition V8.

On the outside the N420’s changes add an athletic edge; gloss black and diamond turned 19-inch alloy wheels; carbon fibre side strakes, splitter and diffuser; and graphite tailpipe finishers all work well to make the car even more striking than the standard V8 Vantage.

Inside there are race inspired lightweight seats, which help drop the N420’s kerb weight by 27kg. They are decked out with Alcantara inserts and the steering wheel is swathed in the same soft-touch material. In addition there is a ‘racetrack’ stitching pattern on the seats and wheel. Cruise control, Bluetooth and an alarm upgrade are also part of the standard kit list.

Starting the beautiful beast up involves a touch of drama. The ignition is controlled by a stainless steel and glass ECU (Emotion Control Unit). The ECU is inserted into a special docking station set within a clear glass starter button. Pressing the ECU fully into the starter button fires the engine. And the sound is awesome. You don’t need a stereo – the rasping burble of the 420 bhp 4.7-litre V8 engine is music enough.

Bizarrely, the car doesn’t have any more power than the standard edition, but as soon as you move off the sports exhaust system makes the N420 sound like it does. It produces a more feral noise and it barks at higher revs, sounding more outlandish than the usual V8 Vantage. The gorgeous car does 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds and it has the potential to get to 180mph. The steering is ultra direct and, along with the sports suspension, the Aston feels as pointed and sharp as an arrow.  Ok, the N420 does feel a little harsh on some poor surfaces, causing a bit of ‘numb bum’ syndrome after a while, but it could never be described as overly uncomfortable. I preferred keeping the Aston in automatic drive mode, but shifting via the optional paddle-operated Sportshift is fun, if you can be bothered. It works best when you’re pushing the engine hard – it simply demands some interaction to operate, but in all honesty the car is just as entertaining without it.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you’re interested in track days, this car will handle a race circuit (it doesn’t have to be the Nürburgring!) with ease. In fact the Vantage will implore you to take it on a track. But if that’s something you really don’t fancy, that’s fine, because the confidence-inspiring handling and good visibility means that the N420 is just as easy to use in town as it is on our beautifully British B-roads (and less than picturesque) motorways.

And so it was that after a few glorious hours getting ‘lost’ roaring around the Midlands, my Shropshire writer pal and I eventually found ourselves back on track to take the N420 home to its birth place in Warwickshire. It was all over far too quickly. However, I feel a longer spell behind the wheel may not be far off – it’s a car that draws you in, and if I have my way, I’ll find another reason to get back to Gaydon before too long!


  • Looks
  • Power
  • Fun
  • Numb-bum X


  • Engine: 4.7-litre 32v V8
  • Transmission: 6-speed automated manual, rear-wheel drive
  • Power: 420 bhp
  • Torque: 346 lb-ft @ 5000rpm
  • Max speed: 180 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 4.9 seconds
  • Combined mpg: 21.4mpg
  • CO2: 315 g/km
  • Price: £ £96,995 on the road.

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One Response to Aston Martin N420

  1. Liam Bird says:

    I am the very Liam Bird featured in this article, the who’s map reading skills evaporated as Tim “gave the Aston the berries” through the Warwickshire countyside. I can still hear that V8 now.
    A great day out in great company, and of course a great car.

    Liam Bird.