Noble has revealed an open-top version of its M600 supercar at this year's Autosport International show. It is the first car from the British manufacturer to adopt a semi-automatic gearbox.
There are no immediate plans for the prototype, which has been dubbed M600 Speedster, to go into production. The company is instead referring to the car as a "research-gathering exercise".
Going against the company's long-standing loyalty to manual transmissions, the Speedster utilises a six-speed single-clutch semi-automatic gearbox rather than a dual-clutch unit, in order "to keep the raw feel that is associated with Noble cars", according to Noble managing director Peter Boutwood.
"People still love manual-shifting cars, but we have to keep up with other markets while keeping that gutsy, visceral sensation with the car, similar to the Ferrari 430 Scuderia," he said.
Power comes from the same 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 used in the outgoing M600. The engine produces 650bhp at 6800rpm and enables a top speed "in excess of 200mph".
"If it makes production, our aim is for it to be one of the fastest cabriolets in the world," said Boutwood.
Noble says there currently have been no structural changes to the carbonfibre-composite M600 coupé-derived body, despite the removal of the fixed roof on the Speedster. The company says it is happy with the stiffness of the prototype car in its early phase of development.
The Speedster wears 255/30 19 tyres up front and colossal 335/30 20 tyres at the rear. Inside, it's fitted with leather trim, carbonfibre panels and an Alcantara-clad steering wheel. The centre console switches are finished in aluminium.