Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson said of the Noble M600: “It's one of the fastest and best handling supercars, ever.” But how did such a car evolve and what was the philosophy and ideology behind building not only one of the fastest, but one of the most expensive supercars on the road today? I visited Noble's factory in Leicester to find out.
It is hard not to use superlatives when describing the Noble M600. Very hard. It is by far the fastest, craziest, coolest, the most stylish and undeniably one of the most beautiful cars I have driven. Ever. The speed and the handing of the car is both compelling and completely addictive; once in the car you don't want to get out, and once your journey is over, you want to immediately start another. It's also phenomenal; with a 0-100kph (0-62mph) in a little over three seconds, 80kph to 130kph (50-80mph) in a second, and a top speed of 360kph (225mph), this car is built to be driven hard and fast, and to have tons and tons of fun doing it.
I Googled the meaning of the word 'Noble' and it said: 'admirable in dignity of conception, manner of expression, execution, or composition.' And for me this describes the Noble M600 exactly. Hand-built, rare and exclusive, the M600 is an incredible machine that, with its looks and the seductive, deep growl of the 4439cc V8 twin turbocharged engine, turns heads every time and all the time; while out driving it everyone, and I mean everyone, turned to look. How can you not look?
Noble Automotive Ltd was established by British entrepreneur, car designer and engineer Lee Noble in Leeds, West Yorkshire in 1999. The first car Noble produced was the M10, but only a few were ever made, as customers moved their deposits for the M10 onto the M12 once its credentials were announced. Originally powered by specially tuned turbocharged Ford Duratec V6 engine, the two-door, two-seater M10 eventually evolved into four variations of the M12; the GTO 2.5L 310 bhp, the GTO-3 3.0L 352 bhp and the GTO-3R 3.0L 352 bhp. When the M12 was officially launched in 2001 it immediately received almost universal praise from the world's motoring press and became a benchmark by which other supercars will be measured.
In 2006 successful business entrepreneur Peter Dyson bought the company. Peter, an avid and knowledgeable collector of exotic cars, was also a proud M12 owner and a huge admirer of both Noble and the M12's attributes. Over the years, Peter had noted that the cars in his collection that gave him the most enjoyable and rewarding driving experience, tended to be the earlier models; those not having computer-assisted driving systems such as ESP. Peter's vision for the company therefore was to produce a car where the driver, and not a computer, was in control. And so the Noble M600 was born.
It took five years of development before the first M600 was launched to worldwide acclaim.
“Noble is a labour of love, of no compromise and challenges fought. The car speaks for itself, and absolutely reflects what the Team and I envision a true driver's car should be. It is no question uniquely ‘out of sync’ in today’s automotive world, one overrun with cars that cannot make up their minds as to whether they want to be a car that rewards, or a car that gives hollow praise by electronically ‘covering’ the errors. ” Peter states enthusiastically. Put simply; the Noble M600 is for those who love to drive.
Compared to many other supercars, Noble Automotive is a very small, low volume motor manufacturer producing only between ten and fifteen cars a year. Each car is hand-built in England, bespoke and built to client's individual requirements by a very small team of mechanics, engineers and craftsmen, all obviously and undeniably passionate about cars and dedicated to attention to detail and excellence. “We firmly believe that every M600 should reflect both the personality and individuality of the owner,” says Factory Manager, Steve Brisbane. The cabin features a traditional hand-built finish, totally bespoke with a choice of leather, suede or Alcantara, (a synthetic composite which offers greater stain/abrasion resistance and durability), with contrast or matching twin-needle stitching, which looks stunning. There is attention to detail everywhere; the knobs and bezels are hand-turned, the exposed carbon centre console, door cards and gear knob can be finished in gloss or matt, and the fine quality wool carpets are beautifully bound to the edge with leather. Designed and created exclusively for the M600, the seats are made of a lightweight carbon-fibre composite and are upholstered to individual requirements. At almost 110 kilo (240lb) and 1.8 metres I'm not a small guy and I was told when squeezing into the standard seats, that even they can be altered to suit the build of the driver. Seat backs can be natural exposed carbon or painted to match the exterior. Seat panels can be of any combination of materials or colour.
With insane performance figures including 0–161 km/h (0-100 mph) in 6.5 seconds, 0–322 kmh (0-200 mph) in 29.8 seconds, a standing km in 19.9 seconds and a power to weight of 542 BHP/tonne, the car needs to be as light as possible and so it uses carbon-fiber body panels and a steel tube chassis, with a 40/60 rear weight distribution for sporty handling. The M600 has a massive 650bhp available, although this can be varied with the Adaptable Performance Control (APC) reflecting both the location and driving conditions. The APC has three settings; ROAD, which is the comfort setting and represents circa 450bhp, this also supports full traction control and a gently progressive boost curve and throttle response, TRACK, which is the mid-range power setting circa 550bhp and features a little less intrusive traction, a steeper boost curve and more initial response to the throttle, and the RACE, the full power setting of circa 650bhp, which allows increased wheel slip, an aggressive boost curve and a heightened reactive throttle ‘tip in’ to allow effective and responsive heel and toe operation. Traction control can also be turned off, although you will get an ‘are you sure?’ failsafe switch guard. Shifting is done with the traditional six-speed manual gearbox, although paddle shifters will be offered later in 2016, along with the latest in SatNav and audio technology.
“From initial order and deposit, depending upon what they want, it takes between three and six months to produce a bespoke M600 for a client,” says Steve. “We invite all our clients to the factory to meet the team, to show them our cars, and of course to take them out for a drive! Our clients come from all over the world including Australia, China and the Middle East, in fact we now have a show car with ERAS Customs and Classics, at their Marsa Plaza Showroom, Dubai Festival City. We are having more and more enquiries from clients in the Gulf region, clients wanting their supercars exclusive, bespoke, and very, very fast.”
Britain produces some of the best supercars in the world, and this is no exception. The M600 is already an awesome car, in every sense, but in the summer of 2016 Noble plan to launch a convertible version; yes, that's 650bhp, 360 kph with the roof down. I'm saving already.
© COPYRIGHT 2016, ROBIN BARRATT
IMAGES © COPYRIGHT Noble Cars
1st Published in Exotic Car magazine, 2016
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