Saturday, 19 March 2011

Noble car review

Autocar is the first magazine to try the production ready M600, here is the review.
What is it?
Although we’ve driven the M600 at various stages throughout its gestation, this is very much the 64,000 dollar moment for Noble’s £200,000 supercar. Because this is the first time anyone outside the factory has been allowed to drive the full-production M600, complete with carbonfibre body that reduces the kerb weight to “under 1200kg” plus an interior that, claims Noble, entirely justifies the car’s price.
The big news, apart from the fact that the car has finally made it into production and has subsequently acquired a waiting list for itself, is the new lightweight bodyshell. So impressed has Noble been by its team of carbonfibre craftsmen, and so keen is it not to give its secrets away to any potential opposition, they won’t officially say who has carried out the work. All we can say is that the company is British, is based not a million miles away from Noble’s sizeable new premises in Leicester, and has indeed done an extremely decent job.
The finish of the carbon itself is as good as you’ll see on any Lamborghini, while the quality of build throughout the rest of the car has also taken a big leap forwards, inside as well as out.
And because the production M600’s body is “over 50kg” lighter than the glass-reinforced, plastic-bodied car, road tested by this magazine last year, it’s faster than ever against the clock because the power-to-weight ratio has been improved – from 520bhp per tonne to over 545bhp per tonne. So although the Volvo-sourced twin-turbo V8 still produces a thumping 650bhp and 600lb ft, Noble reckons the 0-60mph and 0-100mph times have both been reduced, while fuel consumption has got fractionally better, too.
What’s it like?
We already knew how monstrous the M600’s straight-line performance was; and its handling, steering, ride and general dynamic resolve. And not a lot has changed on these fronts, save to say that the Alcon-developed brakes now have much better bite than before, while the ride has become a tad livelier in the production transformation, possibly because of the reduction in kerb weight. To all intents and purposes, though, the M600 remains as stupefying as it ever was in its raw ability.
What is new is the increased sense of refinement and quality that the full production car now displays, even in its minor detailing. There are still elements that disappoint, considering how much the M600 costs; the quality of its Ford-sourced switchgear, for example, and the apparent flimsiness of the fuel-filler cap are not exactly synonymous with a car that costs more – quite a lot more – than a Ferrari 458 Italia. Or a McLaren MP4-12C.
But Noble is convinced that the M600 will appeal to a different kind of customer, compared with the McLaren and Ferrari; to the sort of customer who wants a more intense experience behind the wheel, and not someone who wants to drive a supercar that adheers to the normal template.
Logic would suggest that anyone with £200k to spend on a mid-engined road rocket is bound to at least take a look at the new McLaren when considering an M600; and common sense says that, when they do, they are bound to be impressed by the 12C’s equally huge performance and by its infinitely superior every-day usability. Yet for a select few – Noble eventually wants to make just 24 cars a year – the M600 does indeed provide a sufficiently different, unquestionably more raw, driving experience compared with the McLarens and Ferraris of this world, in light of that Noble may well just pull it off.
Should I buy one?
If you are sufficiently a) wealthy and b) unhinged enough in the first place to be turned on by a car that boats 650bhp, has no anti-lock brakes and weighs less than a Renault Clio, the M600 is most definitely worth a test drive. But be warned, once you have sampled this car you’ll either love it or hate it. And once you’ve fallen for it there’s no going back.
Steve Sutcliffe
Noble M600 4.4 V8
Price: £200,000; Top speed: 225mph (est); 0-60mph: 3.0sec (est); Economy: 25mpg (est); CO2: na; Kerb weight: 1198kg; Engine type, cc: V8, 4439cc, twin-turbocharged petrol; Power: 650bhp at 6800; Torque: 604lb ft 3800; Power-to-weight: 542bhp per tonne; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

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