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”.