Friday, 18 February 2011

Noble car review

The M15 was a milestone in Nobles history, and CAR magazines Angus Fritton was one of the first to drive it.
The M15 is Noble's slant on an everyday supercar. With it, the British sports car maker wants to take on the Porsche 911 GT3, but at £74,590, the Noble undercuts the Porker by £4500. By taking a swipe at Germany's finest, Noble is trying to elevate itself into the big league.

It uses a tubular steel spaceframe chassis clothed in GRP panels, similar to that found in the existing M12/M400. The M15 uses an evolution of the same bi-turbo V6 Ford-derived engine but where it differs is in its layout. Where the V6 is mounted transversely in the M12, the M15 adopts an inline engine layout. With it comes a lower centre of gravity and better packaging. It's longer, wider, lower and much faster than any Noble before it.

Give me the lowdown…
The Noble Grand Tourer concept originally made its debut as the M14 show car in 2004. That used the existing M400's chassis and mechanicals. But the M15 throws out much of that hardware in favour of a new chassis, a new layout, new gearbox (built by Graziano), a new interior and fresh styling. Underneath that glass rear window lies a 3.0-litre V6 pumping out 455bhp – with 30bhp and 5lb ft of torque more than the searingly rapid M400. The M15 will crack 60mph in just 3.5sec before continuing to 180mph. Keeping it in check is a limited slip diff and massive 330mm brake discs.
What's it like to drive?
I've simply never covered ground faster. The M15's damping is incredible, allowing body control so supple yet perfectly balanced that startling speeds can be maintained with little effort from the driver. It proves that you can still have a forgiving ride and decent high-speed body control. The steering is sharp but not too frenetic and the gear change is remarkably light and accurate.

Is it a stripped-out racer?
Far from it. Open the door and you're greeted by the smell of leather from the deep bucket seats. Not a hint of glass fibre or glue. The M15 features touch screen sat nav that also controls the stereo, air con, electric windows and a driver's airbag. It's not terribly exciting but it's well built and goes some way to justifying the £75k list price.
How does it fit into the Noble range?
The M15 is already quicker than the stripped-out M400 around a track but that isn't the point of the new car. It's designed as the GT of the range, equally capable of trips to southern France or everyday use. Greater sound deadening and a better interior goes some way to fixing the faults of the M12 but it's still a more hardcore proposition than its rivals.

The fastest, most desirable and most complete Noble ever. Insanely fast, responsive and hugely rewarding to drive. The only factor limiting its appeal is the price (on the steep side) and the badge (on the obscure side). Bear in mind an Aston V8 Vantage sells for similar money and suddenly the M15 starts to look like a tad on the risky side.

1 comment:

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