British sports car maker Noble is planning to propel itself into the highest echelons of the supercar-making business with this — the new 650bhp, 225mph M600.
These pictures show the M600 in its finished form. Production will start at a new factory in Leicestershire this autumn; deliveries are due to begin in November.
Although prices for the M600 remain to be set, Noble is expecting to have to return some of the 70 deposits it has taken for the now defunct M14 and M15, because the M600 will be a much more expensive car.
“Although rumours have suggested that this car will cost much less, we’re expecting the M600 to be priced at around £200,000,” said Noble managing director Peter Boutwood. “Many of those on the waiting list put deposits on an M14 or M15 in expectation that it would cost £75,000, and it’s only right that we return their money. Even allowing for that, we’re expecting the early interest on this car to account for at least a year’s production.”
The M600 will compete with the fastest and most focused supercars on the market. Unrelated to the M12 that went before and radically altered from the M14/M15 projects begun by former principal Lee Noble, the M600 has a stainless steel tub, a steel tube skeleton and chassis, and carbonfibre body panels.
Weighing 1275kg, the M600’s longitudinally mounted, twin-turbo V8 engine will give the car 520bhp per tonne — enough for 62mph in 3.0sec, 100mph in around 6.5sec and a maximum speed of 225mph.
The M600 is the first Noble to use a V8 — a 4.4-litre Volvo unit fitted with twin Garrett turbochargers and a Motec ECU. In development tune the engine has been providing as much as 750bhp, but in the finished car it will be slightly reined in.
Drivers will be able to cycle between three ECU settings, providing 450, 550 or 650bhp at 6800rpm. In the highest-output setting the engine will also serve up 604lb ft of torque at 3800rpm.
The M600 has a 40 per cent front/60 per cent rear weight distribution. It runs on 19in painted alloy wheels at the front and 20in wheels at the rear, both wearing Michelin Pilot Sport tyres.
It will come with a switchable traction control system that’s deactivated using the missile launch switch from a Tornado fighter bomber. It has no conventional ESP system, though, and no anti-lock brakes.
“This is a car designed to provide a pure and uncorrupted driving experience that you’re totally in control of,” said Boutwood. “The driving experience we’ve targeted is closer to that of a Ferrari F40 or a McLaren F1 than those of more modern, more ‘civilised’ supercars. The M600 will do nothing on the driver’s behalf.”
In that vein, the new Noble has fixed-rate dampers, a fixed-ratio steering system and Alcon brakes with iron discs and only a very modest level of servo assistance so that, according to Boutwood, they have plenty of feel and are easy to modulate.
Although semi-automatic, paddle-operated gearboxes are becoming de rigueur on supercars at this price point, the M600 has a six-speed manual unit made by Graziano.
“We tested various paddle-shift systems during the conception of the M600, such as the one on the Ferrari Enzo, and found them all to be pretty unsatisfactory,” said Boutwood. “A good manual gearbox is just as fast, easier to maintain and gives the driver better control.”
Asked why the firm is abandoning its familiar £50,000-£75,000 price point, Boutwood said, “Demand for the £50,000 British sports car has dried up. We’re pitching the new M600 at a price point of around £200k because we believe that gives the car its own niche in the market. It’s uncharted territory for us, but we’re confident that the M600 is worthy of it.”
Noble will appoint a new dealer network for the M600 in the next few weeks and will give the car its first public outing during the Goodwood Revival on 19-21 September.