Monday, 25 October 2010

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Tuned Noble M12 GTO

Ensuring that automotive engines meet current and known future emissions legislation is a tough challenge in itself … getting there without compromising the power and performance of a supercar is a significant achievement. Yet that is exactly what Roush has done with the highly acclaimed Noble M12 GTO 3 – and within a timeframe of less than four months!
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The Noble uses a twin-turbocharged version of Ford’s 3-litre V6 Duratec engine – a unit about which Roush engineers gained a detailed knowledge during the development programme on the successful ST220 Mondeo. The Noble extracts a massive 360bhp from the engine – a feature which puts it in the elite class of British-built supercars.
Commissioning Roush to undertake the work, Noble Automotive’s Lee Noble was uncompromising. "We were clear that we had to achieve at least Euro III emissions compliance without losing the power we have currently in the car".
At Roush, the project has been led by senior engineer, Trevor Jasper, working closely with Noble’s Engine Management System supplier, MBE. "Our work so far has been focused on two areas. Firstly, we have developed and extended the EMS functionality to precisely control every aspect of the engine-out emissions. Secondly, we have installed larger catalysts into the Noble’s existing exhaust system, but importantly, without sacrificing the power output of the engine".
Roush Powertrain Development Manager, Paul Turner says, "We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Noble Automotive – and to demonstrate that such a performance oriented car can also meet the strictest European emissions levels. The concept phase of the project, which proves that the Noble is capable of Euro III emissions, is now complete. However, the results we have achieved are actually close to Euro IV levels - so that will be our next target. With full European On-Board Diagnostics (EOBD) as well, we expect the car to be ready for type approval next year".
The development car has already passed three consecutive compliance tests at Ford’s Aveley Emissions Laboratories in Essex. The latest on the project is that Roush engineers, working with John Noble Motorsport, who hand build the engines for Noble Automotive, have successfully incorporated some new development parts and have raised the power output to 400bhp, whilst still retaining emissions compliance. The programme continues.
Story by Roush

Monday, 18 October 2010

Thursday, 14 October 2010


This is the cheapest 3R that ive seen for a while, so lets take a look, its fully MOT'd, a full noble dealer service history, it is in good nick apart for a small imperfection in the paint, see pic below, other things below
30'000 miles, cream leather interior,6-speed.
PHONE, 07071059866, car availible for viewing on the 18/10/10 in oxfordshire, 2004 car,
PRICE, £23,450

Monday, 11 October 2010

FACT FILE: 2000 Noble M10

This is an M10, aaand heres an m12 gto....
Not so fast, because the M10 has an important role in the making of the company we know and love, this is probably one of the greatest modern sports cars of the 21 century, it pioneered the ford V6 that were used in the M12, when new it cost about 35k, its figures were just about right for a classic british sports car, 137 mph, 0-60 5.9 sec. It was light, it was a convertable and it is british. Autocar tested the car in 1999, they thought it was better than a Lotus elise, the suspension of this car went into the m12, this is the only production noble which lets you feel the wind in your hair, and they are rare, and they are reliable, the interior is leather, probably the only noble to have that, so next time youre on a m12 related article, spare a thought for the M10, the underdog noble.

Noble car review

The new M600 is the first noble to come out of the barwell factory since 2006, evo finds out what it's like.
At least it’s not raining,’ I say to photographer Stuart Collins as we stand beside the Noble M600 on one of the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground’s runway aprons. Right on cue, the first fat drops of a shower fall from a mostly blue sky and begin glossing the prototype’s matt black bodywork. This idling mule has at least 650 twin-turbocharged horsepower, no traction control, and someone else has had the best of the tyres. We look at each other across the roof with raised eyebrows, unaware that the next hour or so will reveal the new Noble to be one of the most driveable and exploitable supercars ever built.We’re using the short circuit with its smoothly surfaced asphalt ‘cut-through’. The rest is mostly gradually deteriorating ribbed concrete that offers unpredictable levels of grip. Collins and I head out to grab a bit of on-board video footage and get a feel for where the car will strut its stuff for his camera. The answer, once the rain has wetted the whole place, is just about everywhere, and certainly any of the corners… I glimpsed the enormous power of the Yamaha-sourced 4.4-litre, twin-turbo V8 in the baby blue car, production prototype number three, on the way here, and even in this flat landscape, where the lack of reference points lessens its impact, the urge of the M600 feels mighty. The boost builds early and doesn’t fade until the V8 nears the 7000rpm red line, yet the straight-line traction found by the surprisingly vast 335/30 ZR20 Michelins is remarkable. Such huge mechanical grip, turbo power and a mid-engined, 40/60 front/rear weight distribution don’t sound like tick-boxes for pick-your-angle oversteer but fear not, the M600 will make you look like a hero and put a stupid grin on your face. An exploratory lunge into a second-gear turn on wet, coarse concrete produces mild understeer. If the chassis is well set up, the rears will be close to their limit of grip too. They are. I give the throttle a stab and it’s like pushing open a door on another world, one that few supercars are able to show you. The transition from understeer to oversteer is progressive and predictable, the throttle is precise and the steering is fast and well weighted – all this is obvious as I grapple with a slightly grabby slide and recovery that’s all down to me. Three or four laps later I’m dialled in, a bit more relaxed with it, and Collins is standing trackside at the cut-through chicane, snapping away as the Noble swings in on power oversteer, throttles off momentarily and swings the other way past the inside kerb on the power again. Noble MD Peter Boutwood had warned me that I probably wouldn’t like the feel of the brake pedal initially. It has very little servo action at the top of its travel and so feels a bit heavy and unresponsive. It was a bit odd at first, but now it feels spot on, and like the drive the rear tyres find, the amount of stopping power on offer before a front wheel finally locks, even on this poor, wet surface, is remarkable. Although the M600 is mid-engined there seems to be very little inertia, so it’s the precise, measurable throttle that determines the angle of the slide and how long it is sustained. I can’t think of another supercar that is this friendly, that slips over the limit of grip and back again so effortlessly. The Ferrari F40 is similarly playful but has getting on for 200bhp less, while the Zonda R has the same power but doesn’t feel as exploitable. At Bruntingthorpe there’s a big right-hand sweeper, slightly uphill, fourth gear. The nose of the M600 unsticks and glides a little across the surface on entry, you squeeze the throttle a bit harder, catch the slide and hold it, giving it more and more gas to keep the tail hung out as you accelerate up the hill to the end of fourth gear. I don’t think I’d be comfortable doing that in any other mid-engined supercar. Impressive, but as far as road driving is concerned, it’s something of a technical achievement. Yet this remarkable on-limit composure and responsiveness doesn’t come at the expense of on-road ability. The Noble isn’t a leather-trimmed race car with a rock-hard ride and underdeveloped road manners. Quite the opposite, in fact, which is why I was so astonished by it on the way here. The M600 may have 650bhp and a claimed top speed of 225mph, but it’s not intimidating. Swing open the lightweight door, slip into the Sparco seat, turn the key, shove the gearlever into first and drive off. It’s no harder to drive sweetly, with finesse, than the BMW 1-series that brought me to Noble’s base in Barwell, near Leicester, this morning. Really. That stupendously powerful V8 sounds deep and menacing at idle but is utterly docile, the gearshift of the six-speed Graziano transaxle bolted to the back of it is slick and positive, and the action of its twin-plate clutch is light and progressive. Add to that nicely weighted power steering, great forward visibility and a ride that makes the 1-series feel like it’s got concrete tyres, and you’re perfectly softened up for being blown away by the performance, as I was. After a few miles of low-speed urban ambling, chit-chatting with Boutwood, we came across the first opportunity to give the throttle a good, positive squeeze. So I did. Even before the turbochargers had spooled up there was plenty of shove, and then the engine climbed smoothly onto boost and, well, it all went a bit crazy. It felt like the M600 had been struck by the swing of a huge tennis racket, had sunk into its web and then been punched forward on the follow-through. Moments later we were a few hundred yards up the road with the turbos che-che-chooow-ing on the overrun. I’d made sure we were pointing straight and heading up a slight gradient because I’d been told that the traction control (protected by the flip-up ordnance switch cover from a Tornado fighter) wasn’t connected on this car either. I’d also done the maths and worked out that with 650bhp and just 1250kg to haul, the Noble has a Bugatti Veyron-rivalling power-to-weight ratio of 528bhp per ton, but still… Back at Barwell, we meet the boss of Noble Automotive, American Peter Dyson. He took over in August 2006, at the time the company was developing the M15 under the firm’s founder, Lee Noble, who was soon to depart. ‘There is nothing of the M15 in this car,’ says Dyson. That car didn’t know what it wanted to be, he says, and having drafted in Brit Peter Boutwood as MD, they set about creating the supercar that they wanted.Dyson is an enthusiast who has been able to indulge his passion and owns a whole bunch of supercars, including an F40, an F50 and a Carrera GT. He is also a realist, recognising the shortcomings of those cars (‘Why are so many supercars utterly impractical?’ he asks), and he’s a purist too; he doesn’t want the car to do it for him, whether it’s a paddle-shift gearbox, adaptive dampers or sophisticated stability-control systems. When he reveals that he’s a big fan of the Ferrari F40, the penny drops. ‘Everyone’s favourite supercar is the F40, right?’ he asks. The M600 takes the Ferrari’s spirit and purity and adds a decent-sized boot and enough power to hold its own in today’s supercar landscape. It has taken three years to develop and is the first Noble, says Dyson, that has been in the wind tunnel and the heat chamber at MIRA, on a four-post chassis-testing rig and to some of the highest and lowest roads in the world (Pikes Peak and Death Valley in the US). ‘We don’t want our customers to develop the car,’ says Boutwood. AT 8 O’CLOCK the following morning, a Noble-liveried truck unloads the baby blue M600 into a lay-by on one of our favourite roads in North Yorkshire. (Leicestershire didn’t seem quite big enough.) The starter motor whirrs and the V8 catches and assumes a clean, steady idle. Motorkraft in the US developed the engine for Noble. They take crated V8s direct from Yamaha, strip out the internals, install suitably tough conrods and pistons and beefed-up crankshafts, and then rebuild them before adding the Garrett turbos and shipping the lot to the UK. The package is rated up to 750bhp, apparently. The quality of the leatherwork on the car’s interior is outstanding. The blend of twin-tone hide, glossy carbonfibre and bespoke instruments and switchgear is a success too, and although the pedals are slightly offset to the left, the driving position is good; the steering column adjusts for rake and reach, the seat for reach only. Behind the carbonfibre-topped gearlever there’s a rotary switch machined from billet aluminium, like those for the heating and ventilation, but this one has a red face and three settings. It’s a sort of simple version of Ferrari’s manettino and sets the power level by adjusting boost pressure. ‘Road’ gives 0.6bar boost and 450bhp, ‘Track’ gives 0.8bar and 550bhp, and ‘Race’ the full 1.0bar and 650bhp. Between the instruments is a small panel that shows which setting is selected: ‘Road’ illuminated green, ‘Track’ orange and ‘Race’ red. Like the traction control, it’s not connected yet, but even with full boost on these awfully bumpy North York Moors roads, the amount of traction the rear end of the M600 finds is truly impressive. Sure, give it the beans in the lowest two gears and when the engine hits a natural peak at around 5000rpm the rear tyres will spin up, but you’ll be expecting it, such is the level of feedback from the chassis. Up here the scale and reach of the M600’s performance is no less impressive but I find that I’m not hunting for opportunities to get the throttle to the stop. This is a complete car, one in which you enjoy the process of going briskly; changing gear smoothly, hooking onto the perfect line, feeling the feedback from each corner. It’s wonderfully neutral and nimble even when you’re really motoring, and the ride is truly outstanding, supple and quiet. And if you want to feel the rear end load up with power and maybe smear a fraction wide on the exit of a long corner, you can squeeze the throttle just hard enough to make it happen. The transition from grip to slip, the ease with which you can meter out the power and the way it feels so natural up to and over the limit are very special. When you want to remind yourself that it’s a fully fledged supercar, just find a straight long enough for third and maybe fourth gear. Does it feel Veyron quick? Well, as it gets into its stride it passes through BMW M3 fully wrung out, then Ferrari 599 at 7000rpm, and then it hits that twilight zone where the acceleration is actually quite scary… before ramping up that bit more so that you momentarily wish the traction control was connected. Yep, at that point it feels Veyron quick. Unsuspecting passengers will feel like their hair and some internal organs have been rearranged and may have to have their fingers prised from the sides of the seat. By the time we’re packing the M600 back in the truck, I realise the looks have grown on me. It’s not drop-dead gorgeous, and some of the detailing such as the engine cover vents let it down, but in a less attention-seeking colour it would cut it. All the panel gaps will be tighter on the carbonfibre-bodied production cars (this one is glassfibre), which will improve its finish. Other gripes? Most of the interior is bespoke but the column stalks aren’t and they look cheap; the driver’s door mirror gets in the way looking into right-hand turns, and there’s a large ridge that cuts across the footwells that for some reason really offends me. Not that much, then.Lee Noble may have left the company that bears his name but the M600 retains the most admirable qualities of Nobles past – great ride quality, superb driveability and generous turbocharged performance, only here it’s of supercar proportions. But is the M600 worth the £200K Noble is asking? For anyone used to thinking of Noble as a maker of £50K M12s and M400s, the jump to high-end supercar territory – leapfrogging the likes of the Ferrari 458, McLaren MP4‑12C, Mercedes-Benz SLS and Lamborghini Gallardo – is hard to get your head around. To a large extent, whether it looks expensive depends how much value you put on the driving experience and how much on owning a supercar with the right name. I reckon a lot of badge snobs will never know what they’re missing.

Noble BHP chart

M600, 650 BHP
M400, 425 BHP
M12 GTO-3R, 352 BHP
M12 GTO-3, 340 BHP
M12 GTO, 310 BHP
M10, 168 BHP

Noble 0-60 chart

M600, 3.0 sec
M400, 3.5 sec
M12 GTO-3R, 3.8 sec
M12 GTO-3, 3.8 sec
M12 GTO, 4.1 sec
M10, 5.9 sec

Noble top speed chart

M600, 225 mph
M400, 175 mph
M12 GTO-3R, 170 mph
M12 GTO-3, 170 mph
M12 GTO, 165 mph
M10, 137 mph

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Latest Noble pic

Probably the biggest gathering of M10's ever, plus a M12 GTO, can you pick your fav?

Latest Noble pic

This great pic by Autocar in 2001 shows how well the M12 fits in with the 'night life'

Noble car review

In 2006 a new breed of road racers were born, so how will the Noble M400 face up to the lotus exige 260 cup, Porsche 911 GT3 RS and Corvette Z06, EVO finds out in 'the battle of the road racers'.

Doubtless you've heard about the new Corvette Z06. Heard that it's coming to the UK. Heard about its mighty, 505bhp, 7-litre 'small-block' V8. Heard about its race-bred pedigree, outsized 200mph performance and downsized £60K asking price. Heard everything, in fact, except whether this explosive all-American hero-in-waiting is actually any good.We'd harboured noble intentions of being able to fill you in on that last, vital nugget of information next month, after driving the Z06 against a few choice rivals at its official European launch in the south of France. However, all thoughts of illicit comparison tests and a spot of winter sunshine went straight out of the window when that inveterate car collector and friend of evo, Simon Draper, told us of his latest acquisition: an acid yellow Corvette Z06, run-in and proudly wearing UK number plates. Better still, he was happy for us to drive it on roads of our choice against any competitors we cared to bring along. Bingo!
Intrigued and enthralled at the prospect of discovering what this fastest-ever Corvette is like, and on UK roads at that, we were then surprised at how hard it was to come up with a relevant, representative bunch of cars with which to test the Vette's mettle. But then how do you pigeonhole a car that's designed and manufactured in the USA, packs the power of a supercar and the engineering focus of a homologation special, and yet costs little more than a premium-brand executive saloon?
With great difficulty is the simple answer. Judged purely on power and performance, and putting price aside, we considered the Ferrari 575 HGTC and Porsche 911 Turbo as the ultimate benchmarks, but with both cars in their twilight years, we concluded it would be better to leave that particular showdown for their imminent successors, the 599 and 997 Turbo. Judged purely on price, this flagship Vette sits comfortably in cooking 911 Carrera or soon-to-be-launched Jaguar XKR territory, but as you delve into the development of the Z06, such opposition seems increasingly mainstream as a more focussed, specialist and decidedly hardcore machine begins to emerge from the spec sheet. In the words of Dave Hill, Corvette's long-time chief engineer, 'The Z06 is the dividend from competing so successfully in endurance racing', and while it's not a pure homologation special, the Z06 has been developed in conjunction with Chevrolet's dominant C6-R race car. Consequently, the Z06 is a totally unique machine that owes little to the basic C6 Corvette, which given our underwhelming experience of Chevy's purported Porsche-beater, can only be a good thing.
Impressively, every aspect of the Z06 has been honed and refined, developed to reduce weight, increase rigidity, boost power or sharpen dynamics. At its core is the LS7 engine, a hand-built 7-litre version of Chevrolet's legendary small-block V8. Featuring a unique block casting; titanium conrods, pushrods and exhaust valves; ported cylinder heads; a forged steel crankshaft and dry-sump lubrication, it's an engine every bit as special as the best units from M Power or AMG.
Structurally the Z06 is just as trick, with an aluminium frame for the body structure in place of the standard Corvette's steel item, and hydroformed aluminium chassis rails complete with cast suspension mounting points. The engine and some of the front suspension is mounted to a unique magnesium subframe, or 'cradle', which saves further weight and helps achieve a 49:51 weight distribution, as does the relocation of the battery to the luggage area.
Further weight-saving measures include minimal sound deadening, front wings and wheelarch liners made from carbonfibre, and a floor formed from a balsa wood core skinned with carbonfibre sheets. It's a huge amount of effort for what, on paper at least, appears to be a kerb weight saving of just 22kg, but it's easy to forget that much of the initial weight savings have been offset by the Z06's bigger wheels, tyres and brakes, dry-sump oil system and big-bore exhaust, all of which are heavier than the standard C6 components. Besides, at a modest 1420kg, the Z06 is impressively trim, weighing the same as a 997 Carrera S, and less than a Ferrari F430. Factor-in the small matter of 505bhp and 475lb ft with which to propel it, and it's small wonder this Corvette is nothing less than a ballistic device, hitting 60mph in 3.5sec, 100 in less than 8sec (in the hands of US magazine Motor Trend), and reckoned by Chevrolet engineers to be good for a monstrous 198mph.
Few cars promise more pace, even at four times the price, but it was the Z06's uncompromising dynamic focus rather than its supercar-matching speed that shaped our decision to range three of our favourite and most uncompromising driver's cars against it: the new but familiar supercharged Lotus Sport Exige Cup, Noble's ballistic M400 and Porsche's last great specialist 911, the GT3 RS. Street racers all, and as tough a test of the Corvette's charisma, tactility and point-to-point ability as we could muster.
As for the venue, and given the timeframe, only Wales would do, but rather than hightail it up the M6 we're going to head for the Severn Bridge and make our way up through Wales, sampling our favourite roads in the south (the A449 north from the M4 towards Raglan before joining the A40 towards Crickhowell then heading across the moors near Llangattock, scene of our 'Car of the Decade' test back in evo 066) before continuing along the A470 to Builth Wells, Rhyader, Llangurig, Dolgellau, Blaenau Ffestiniog and on to our regular routes around Betws-y-Coed and Denbigh.
Our first rendezvous point is Beachley, directly beneath the mighty Severn Bridge. Draper and evo associate editor Tomalin are making their way across from Tetbury in the Corvette and Exige, while I'm making my own way from an overnight stop at Castle Combe in the Noble. That leaves the Porsche, which will be absent today but is set to join us at breakfast-time tomorrow, ready for a final head-to-head with the Corvette and providing ample incentive to complete the schlep up through Wales.
Scraping the early-morning ice from the M400's windscreen allows time for the twin-turbo V6 to warm its fluids on fast-idle, and also to reflect on how far Noble has come in such a short space of time. True, the M12 isn't as crisply styled as it should be, and the failings of its interior are well-documented, but these shortcomings do little to diminish Noble's towering achievement in creating a car that combines deftness and poise with aggression and searing speed. It repeatedly commends itself for tests like this on pure dynamic merit, and is a tribute to Noble's exceptional engineering skills.
I've driven the M400 on many occasions, but still the first few minutes of reacquaintance trigger mixed emotions. The shape is evocative enough and the stance suitably low-slung, but the door opens and closes with a cheap clack and the interior is a tacky hotchpotch of cheap switchgear and hard mouldings. Another bugbear is the complete lack of luggage space (the set of assorted tailored pouches that sit immediately ahead of and behind the seats are no substitute for a proper boot), which forces you to dump your coat and overnight bag on the passenger seat. In these respects the new M14 can't come soon enough.
But then, as always with a Noble, you start the thing up, pull away and almost immediately forgive (or at least temporarily forget) its stylistic and ergonomic failings. Irresistibly involving, the M400 is one of those rare cars that immerses you in feedback from the off. The steering tingles with feel, the supple, pliant chassis courses with information from the tyres and road surface, while the gloriously organic engine lives and breathes just behind your shoulders. It's not at all intimidating and has no worrying traits, tricks or foibles that you need to be wary of or make allowances for. It's an honest car with transparent dynamics, and though the drive to Beachley offers little opportunity to explore the M400's ultimate performance, it's done more than enough to whet my appetite for the open roads that lie on the far side of the Severn Bridge.
After crossing the bridge in convoy we spend a rather intimidating half an hour or so in its shadow while Gus arranges a static shot of the Exige. Parked on the slipway and with the vast span of bridge reaching overhead, the already diminutive Lotus looks tiny, a sharp slice of citrus orange sparkling in the morning sunshine. This is our first try of the new Lotus Sport 240 Cup, although to be honest it's little more than a thinly veiled re-issue of the original limited-edition 240R. Much of the specification is shared, including the 240bhp supercharged engine and Öhlins two-way adjustable suspension. In fact there's little to distinguish it from the original, save the wheels (which are less-striking silver versions of the normally black standard Exige rims), a less gaudy interior, new decals and a freer choice of body colour.
Of course there are detail specification changes. Some, such as the addition of traction control and ProBax seats, are part of the '06 model-year changes. Others, such as the fitment of a limited-slip differential as standard and the no-cost option of a roll cage and ignition cut-off switches (neither of which is fitted to this test car) underline Lotus Sport's intention for this Exige to be used on trackdays and in club-level sprinting, hillclimbing and racing. It's a steely, hard-edged machine, even by Lotus's standards, and is a welcome addition to the range, even if the £46,000 price tag is something of a jaw-dropper.
Static shot done, we resume our journey. There's a stretch of motorway and plenty of dual-carriageway to negotiate before the roads get interesting, but until they do there's ample opportunity to give the Noble's throttle a good old prod. It might have humble beginnings, but the Roush-built 3-litre twin-turbo Ford V6 is an absolute cracker; lusty enough at low revs and positively rampant when the turbos are spooled. It sounds and feels like a Porsche 911 GT2, acceleration growing exponentially with each delicious rush of boost pressure, every gear more vivid and addictive than the last. What's more, despite the slick, chill tarmac and trackday-biased Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres, the M400 finds a surprisingly firm footing, only breaking traction under genuine provocation, underlining the sense that so long as you don't get too greedy with the throttle the Noble won't bite.
Approaching Crickhowell and the fast, open roads around Llangattock, the Noble comes into its own, soaking up the bumps and ridges, tacking sharply into the tighter twists and turns. It's here that the M400's tactility counts, those moments where you're feeling for turn-in or squeezing for traction on the exit of a corner. Even in the rain the Noble keeps its poise, despite no traction control, stability system or ABS, and while the tail can kick out or go light under power, the M400's low mass and progressive breakaway make it intuitive to rein-in and thrilling to exploit.
Swapping the Noble for the Lotus fosters an immediate, simultaneous sense of loss and gain: loss because, effective though the supercharged Toyota engine unquestionably is, 243bhp and 174lb ft is no match for 425 and 390; gain because the Exige is beautifully fashioned from wonderful materials, embellished with immaculately conceived details and shot-through with even more delicate responses. And, sorry to be sensible here, equipped with a decent-sized boot.
Charging along these deserted hill-roads is a challenge the Exige relishes, especially now that it has traction control to back-up the ABS brakes. True, the totally analogue Noble proves such modern electronics don't add to the experience, but like seatbelts, crash helmets and car insurance, you don't miss ABS (and, to a lesser extent, traction control) until you really need it, at which point you'll either swerve successfully around the suicidal sheep with wide eyes and a pulsing brake pedal, or spend the next few hours contemplating your cadence braking technique while picking wool and Barnsley chops from your car's splintered bodywork. Put simply, when an anti-lock system is as well judged as the one behind the Exige's rock-solid, feelsome pedal, any argument against it for road use is bloody-minded folly.
The traction control is also just-so, relaxed enough to allow you to feel like you're in control, and refraining from intervening until you've generated enough slip to warrant a quarter-turn or so of corrective lock. Even when it does cut in, the power isn't strangled, rather it's slightly constricted, exhaust popping with the staccato stammer of an F1 car, engine still delivering some useful forward motion. Through quicker corners it doesn't manifest itself at all, even when you begin to feel some gentle understeer begin to build. It pays to remember that it's a traction control system, rather than a stability control system that you're attempting to lean on at this point, for there's nothing to temper the Exige's trajectory should you manage to induce a more serious slide, be it understeer or lift-off oversteer.
Despite the disparity in power and torque outputs, both the Noble and Exige respond surprisingly well to less-than-gratuitous revs and deliver a satisfying swell of accelerative urge throughout the mid-range. Both have rapid, accurate, short-throw gearshifts too, the Exige's just shading the Noble's thanks to a tighter and more precise cross-gate feel. All-out it's the Lotus that really demands high revs to deliver its best, the highly-strung Toyota unit finding a demented vigour beyond 8000rpm that's faintly scary, as is the noise, which is corrosive in its intensity at the top-end, merely buzz-saw violent at all other times. Fun for five minutes, unpleasant after ten. An hour on the motorway and you'll be reporting Lotus to Amnesty International.
Noise aside, the lasting impression of the 240 Cup is a car that flows with effortless poise and economy of input. You don't so much guide the Lotus by turning the wheel as by varying the pressure with which you squeeze its rim. You can feel each individual wheel and tyre following the contours of the road, sense changes in surface texture and grip through the varying levels of background noise that permeate the aluminium tub. It's a malleable car, able to mould itself not only to the road and the conditions, but also to your mood. When you're in the zone, it's hard to tell where you stop and the car begins.
By the time we arrive at our overnight stop at the Groes Inn, both the Noble and the Lotus have impressed. The Noble is the more incendiary, the more visceral when you squeeze your foot to the floor, but both it and the less explosive but even more sensitive Lotus are poignant reminders that the very best driver's cars temper raw speed with precision and involvement. The Z06 needs to be exceptional to impress in this company.
It's at an entirely civilised (at least by Gus's standards) 7.30am that Gregory and I wander outside the Groes Inn after our early breakfast. There's plenty of photography left to complete, and although I managed a stint in the Corvette yesterday the roads weren't brilliant, so we're planning to get a few hours' photography and driving completed before meeting-up with Draper, Tomalin and a bleary-eyed Bovingdon, who has sliced across from Birmingham after a night on the tiles. We're also expecting Porsche owner Simon Butterworth to join us and, just as I'm about to climb into the Corvette, the car park fills with the dry, abrasive and unmistakable engine note of a 911 GT3 RS. He's earned a breakfast, so we send Butterworth in to join Draper, Tommo and Bosher for a plate of sausage, bacon and eggs.
Even in a pub car park, the way the Z06 sits is a lesson in subtle menace, rear wheels filling the arches with a tweak of negative camber, ride-height squeezed, body drawn Lycra-tight around the chassis. Pierced by additional intakes and vents, the nose and flanks bear testament to the Z06's increased respiratory and cooling needs, while oversize cross-drilled discs and ingot-sized callipers shine behind thin-spoke cast-spun alloy wheels. At the rear a stubby black Gurney flap tops the abruptly chopped tail, while visible within the inner pair of stub exhausts lurk the sprung flaps of noise-friendly bypass valves, subtle hints of the thunder to come.
Inside, the Z06 shuns classic road-racer austerity, instead offering an impressive level of creature comforts. The seats are generously padded, supportive and comfortable, while dual-zone air-conditioning, Bose sound system, colour screen satnav and a capacious load area make it both extremely habitable and surprisingly practical, even though the result is a pretty mainstream interior ambience.
Once in, you sit low and flat, an impression heightened by the Corvette's apparent width. It's intimidating at first, especially when you catch sight of the vast, sculpted bonnet stretching out before you, plunging wheelarches jutting like Kate Moss's cheekbones. The big, brightly illuminated analogue instruments are clear and bold, the 7000rpm tacho a new addition necessitated by the LS7's unprecedented hunger for revs. Supplemented by a head-up display (HUD), which includes an endlessly amusing lateral g meter, the driver's-eye view of the Z06 is undeniably impressive.
Although the Z06 has a key, you don't actually need to use it. Simply having it in your pocket is enough to unlock the doors, disarm the immobiliser, prime the electrical systems and illuminate the starter button, which glows an inviting shade of green. Depress the weighty clutch pedal, finger the button and the 7-litre (or 427 cubic inches in classic muscle-car parlance) fires with a muffled thump before settling into a civilised idle. It's surprisingly polite, actually, and though clearly of big displacement, the Corvette's heart has a smooth, soft-edged pulse quite unlike the Porsche's metallic chunter, the chesty gurgle of the Noble or the waspish buzz of the Lotus.
As you pull away and make your first tentative forays through the gears, you're immediately struck by the deliberate, unhurried feel of the Tremec six-speed gearshift. It's not ponderous or obstructive, but you know it's not the sweetest or the quickest stick to stir around the gate. Chevrolet would point to strengthened internals to cope with the Z06's bruising power and torque, but I'd point to the Ford GT's transmission, which has one of the sweetest and most delicate gearshifts around, despite having to cope with even greater power and torque.
While the chunky, industrial gearshift is a mild disappointment, you soon discover that the LS7 motor ripples with so much muscle it renders most of the ratios redundant anyway. It truly is a Goliath of an engine, pulling with immense, effortless urgency, literally from tickover, and delivering the kind of performance that makes even the Noble feel almost toy-like. This is one stupendously quick car.
The gearing is hugely tall, with first stretching to 60mph if you push the tacho needle into the redline, while second will take you to 90mph without breaking sweat. Sixth is good for a theoretical and faintly ludicrous 315mph. In any other car such gearing would be absurd, but what's genuinely shocking is that the LS7 motor makes as much sense of its ratios (sixth gear aside) as any of the other three cars here. Consequently on most roads, even quite twisty ones, you tend to find a gear and stick with it. Third delivers an unbeatable combination of low-speed tractability and savage acceleration while also having the reach to worry a wrung-out Exige, but for a truly surreal experience, fourth is the gear of choice, for should you have the inclination, it'll haul relentlessly and with genuine conviction from walking pace right the way through to 170mph. A useful trick, I'm sure you'll agree.
The Corvette's brakes are also worthy of particular mention, not only for their exceptional stopping power and satisfying pedal feel, but also because they utilise no fewer than 20 separate pads... Rather than having a conventional arrangement with a long single-piece pad on each side of each disc, the Z06 utilises an individual pad under each calliper piston - and there are six-piston callipers up front, four-pots at the rear.
Out on our well-worn test route heading across from the A5 to Denbigh they face a stern test, as does the chassis, for the high speeds, sharp compressions, tightening-radius bends, mid-corner bumps and nasty camber changes conspire to expose flaws like no other roads we know. There's no doubting the Corvette's ability to put its ample power and torque onto the tarmac, for those gargantuan 325/30 ZR19 rear Goodyears have formidable bite. It doesn't feel as big and cumbersome as the standard C6 either, thanks to steering that has improved feel and a more linear response, along with damping that asserts more control over the body and doesn't go to war with the road when you try and hustle it on a less than smooth surface. It's also easier to place, and settles into a corner more readily than the C6, but sharp mid-corner bumps can still upset the Z06's poise with a buck that seems to kick across the front and rear transverse composite leaf springs in turn, the front-end reacting a split second before the rear. It's a trait rather than a mortal failing, for it requires nothing more than for you to accept it and ride it out, but it takes some getting used to.
But then so does the Porsche. It's been well over a year since I last drove a GT3 RS, and clearly my memories of it have been corrupted by the countless intervening drives in various 997 models, for the 996 RS is shockingly busy, fidgeting over bumps you simply don't notice in the Corvette (or the Noble, or the Lotus). The nose bobs, the steering-wheel wriggles, the tail squirms and shimmies, the whole car seemingly alive, sensitive to the point of paranoia. Of all the cars here it feels like the most intimidating, the most tricky, the most overwhelming.
Take a deep breath, allow yourself to calm down, and you begin to make sense of the RS. Relax your grip of the steering wheel and far from being wrenched from your hand, the storm of feedback calms. It feels less nervous, less distracted, and as you feel the car begin to react to the road you can filter the 'noise' from the genuine feedback. Driving the RS, like any 911, is learning what to ignore and what to take heed of.
Even so, attacking the road in the RS demands more effort and concentration than any of the other cars. More inputs and corrections too, your hands working a constant stream of minute nudges and hints of lock into the steering, your right foot working in unison, with a slight lift here and there to get the weight distribution working in your favour. It's a physical car to drive, and too punishing to live with on a daily basis, despite the stereo and the air-con and the boot space. But the harder you work, the more obedient and responsive the car gets; the quicker you go, the more immersed you become.
And that, ultimately, highlights the Z06's only major failing. The Porsche is flawed, demanding a very particular driving style, but eventually you find a way to interpret its signals, and that in turn enables you to feel comfortable with its behaviour and get the most from it. The Noble and Lotus are paragons of benign brilliance, allowing you to simply get in them and enjoy them. In the Z06, despite the manifest improvements over the C6, there's an underlying aloofness that ensures you never feel inclined to feel for its limits. And while it has the grunt, grip and stopping power to keep pace, or even set the pace, without needing to dig that deep, it's this lack of ultimate tactility, its inability to fully engage you, that means it never truly delivers those genuine moments of inspiration that define the others.
While it's mildly disappointing to report that the Z06 isn't the purebred road-racer its detailed development and exotic specification led us to believe, we remain awed at its pace, bowled over at the level of improvement over the standard Corvette C6, and incredulous at its bargain price and how it combines 500bhp with everyday practicality. It might not be America's answer to the 911 RS, but when the new Porsche 997 Turbo is launched later this year, we know what we'll be measuring it against.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

LEE and the other cars he designed

1998. Ascari FGT/ Ecosse

2000. Ultima

2008. Rossion QI

Latest Noble pic

today, i thought i'd show you a concept, this, the m14, if this went into production, it would do 200 mph.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

new section to our site

our new section is the noble gallery, wallpapers of all noble models ( concepts not included )
the link is below, but we will put a permenent link on the site soon

Monday, 4 October 2010

Our new site

We our proud to announce, our new site, Noble M10

a car devoted to it, and hopefully publisising this great car