Saturday, 7 August 2010

Noble car review

It was the first, the origonal, the M10, and CAR magazine finds out if it is any good.

The dictionary definition of the word Noble is: Fine, brave, great and good. It is also a very perfect definition of the man, Lee Noble and his new Noble M10 V6 sports car. Englishman Lee Noble has been an innovator in the design and manufacture of specialist low-volume sports car since 1982 and has gained an enviable reputation for engineering integrity and innovation whilst attaining quality standards unusual amongst small volume manufactures. More than five hundred cars have been sold from a variety of Noble designs. Amongst the names that will be most familiar to enthusiasts are Ultima, Ascari and Prosport 3000. Most of Noble's creations to date have had a bias towards the race tracks and this has brought success at such venues as Le Mans and Daytona. It was to Noble whom McLaren Cars Ltd. turned to assist with the development of the famous McLaren F1 super-sports car. Two Ultima Mark 3 were used as development vehicles. To have your product used in development by one of the world's premier Formula One racing teams is possibly the highest accolade any independent car designer can achieve.

The Noble M10 is a wholly new built British sports car. The considerable experience gained with race car production has been used to good effect, but the Noble is through and through a quality road car where creture comforts and quality finish abound but without sacrificing the performance and handling characteristics that a sporting driver will demand.“I have made too many out-and-out sports cars with limited practicality,” Lee Noble says. “And I was very determined that this one should be easy to live with.” Lee Noble wanted to avoid the big leg-bruising sills that distinguish a lot of sports cars, so the chassis is a tubular space frame design with strong folded sheet steel central spine and front and rear sections designed to crush in the event of impact. The structure has been designed to offer maximum protection for the occupants and good torsional rigidity to promote precise handling characteristics. All mechanical components are fitted directly to the structure before the body is fitted. This leaves the body totally unstressed.The smart body of the Noble is glass-fibre-reinforced-plastic (GRP) manufactured from the best quality composites and with steel reinforcement around the windscreen area. The body is made in three main sections. This allows easy repair in the event of accident damage. At the rear behind the engine, there is luggage space big enough for two people's weekend bags. There is also some storage space behind the seats. At the front of the car there is room for a lay flat spare wheel behind the radiator.There is an optional aerodynamic kit for the M10 comprising of a wing that fits on the rear engine cover, and two chin spoilers at the lower front. The front suspension is of an double, non-equal length wishbone design using coil-over telescopic shock absorbers. The rear suspension uses a wide based lower wishbone and a transverse top link with a forward facing brake reaction rod to attach Noble's own cast alloy hub carriers. Coil-over telescopic shock absorbers are used. The suspension is so good that no anti-roll bars are needed. The philosophy behind the M10's chassis and suspension was not to make it a racing car for the road, a trap many small- volume sports car producers fall into. Lee Noble knew that the M10 would need to ride at least as well as it steered and handled, if it was going to fulfil its brief. By and large it really does.The Noble is one of the very best handling sports cars ever. Its mid-engined chassis is displaying a blend of balance, composure, grip and plain on-the-limit exploitability that is unique. It is just as good - if not even better - than the classic Lotus Elise.Likewise the way the M10 soaks up mid-corner disturbances and simply refuses to be bounced off line - even at high speeds - makes it superior. It is really extraordinary what Lee Noble has achieved.In very simple terms the neat and sober Noble M10 is a modern sports car that is grippier, faster, more comfortable, better sounding, as least as well built and much more re- fined than the well established Elise. The little Noble sticks to one of the most basic formulas there is when it comes to making sports cars go fast. Namely, slot a big torquey engine into a lightweight car, then just sit back and enjoy the ride and the show.A Ford Mondeo V6 engine is transversely mounted just behind the two seats together with a 5-speed gearbox and rear wheel drive with big but not enormous Bridgestone tyres. Power is quoted at 168 bhp at 6.250 rpm and the top speed is 137 mph/220 km/h. M10 sounds like a Honda NSX.The gearshift is very sweet once the gearbox is warmed and the brakes are unusually well engineered with big ventilated discs both back and front. Rack and pinion steering system is non-assisted, but light. Noble M10 is hand built to individual order with a standard that will not do injustice to a contemporary MGF. It is possible to reflect individual taste and desire in some aspects of the build specification. Notably, special paints and finishes are available. Choice of wheels is free subject to technical compliance. Interior trim and finishes may be specified to individual taste as may in car entertainment.The stunningly well-executed cabin has been designed to accomodate drivers of any size, and benefits from being larger and more spacious than most sports cars in its class. The full-length wide opening doors aid entry and exit. Recaro-style seats are fully adjustable forwards and aft, and also tilt. The steering column is adjustable in and out to achieve the best driving position. The dashboard layout houses all instruments and warning lights in front of the driver and the radio and heat controls are placed in the central panel. There are many options available for the interior seat covering (cloth or leather), electric windows and seat colour.The truly impressive thing is how professionally the interior is made and how well it gets together. Generally the Noble M10 is not as pretty as Lotus Elise. But beauty is only skin deep. Outward appearance is less important than hidden or inner qualities.

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