As August opened, Autocar broke the full inside story on BMW’s next 3-series, a car that will bring three-cylinder engines and sub-100g/km emissions to the compact executive segment from 2011. However, the debutant that had the whole office buzzing with excitement was the Noble M600 – the first new car from the company in the post-Lee Noble era and a pulse-quickening 220mph, £200,000 prospect to read about.
Later that month we became the first magazine in the world to deliver a first drive verdict on Noble’s crucial new car. Steve Sutcliffe was somewhat awestruck by his driving experience. “Pound for pound, I’d say this is one of the most exciting cars I’ve driven in the past 10 years,” he wrote, later recording that it felt even quicker, once in its stride, than a Bugatti Veyron.
By coincidence, the first pictures of another new £200,000 British exotic turned up in the same issue as those of the Noble. It was the Bentley Mulsanne, which was unveiled at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the US. What the Mulsanne’s 6.75-litre V8 gave up to the Noble’s in outright horsepower (500bhp played 650bhp) it made up for in pedigree. Why resurrect the ‘Mulsanne’ name? Bentley boss Franz-Josef Paefgen could give us no better reason than “because it just sounds right”.
Continuing the flag-waving vein, we crowned Britain’s best driver’s car of the year in August. The likes of the Jaguar XFR, Nissan GT-R, Porsche Panamera, Audi R8 V10, Porsche 911 GT3 and even the Lamborghini Murciélago SV pitched up at Goodwood circuit one day that month to fight it out for the title, but it was eventually scooped by the universally adored Lotus Evora.
Nine of our 10 judges voted the Evora number one, reported senior road tester Jamie Corstorphine. “We all enjoyed belting it around Goodwood,” he went on, “but crucially we enjoyed driving it more slowly on the road just as much.”