The striking new Noble M500 is the British supercar maker’s long-awaited follow-up to the acclaimed M600, which arrived in 2009.
First shown as a concept at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed and developed into this working prototype since, the M500 is a cheaper and less powerful car than the Noble M600 that it effectively replaces as the company’s sole offering.
Dynamic testing has just begun, and in an exclusive interview and unveiling with Autocar, Noble said that first customer deliveries will get under way this year.
Like the M600, the M500 is a two-seat, mid-engined supercar built around a steel chassis. But instead of a twin-turbocharged Volvo V8, it runs a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre Ford V6, as deployed in the Blue Oval’s Ford GT supercar.
As standard, the engine makes a little more than 500bhp and nearly 600lb ft, but Noble intends to bring the M500 to market with approximately 550bhp.
The M600 made 650bhp on its maximum boost setting. This output, which made the M600 one of the most potent supercars of its era, is soundly beaten by today’s mid-engined alternatives. With 550bhp, the M500 will be a closer match for ‘junior’ supercars including the new Chevrolet Corvette C8 and Porsche 911 Turbo S.
In lieu of the M600’s carbonfibre bodywork, the M500 has a shapely new glass-reinforced composite body that contributes to a lower cost. But underneath, the steel tubular chassis is “70% M600”, according to Peter Boutwood, Noble’s managing director.
The M500 is the same length as the M600 and only millimetres wider but has been redesigned to be roomier. Fundamentally, the chassis and suspension are sufficiently similar that Boutwood expects the ride and handling to be “very much like an M600”. The M600 finished second in Autocar’s Britain’s Best Driver’s Car contest back in 2010 – beating the Ferrari 458 Italia into third – since which time the idea of its passive set-up with very few driver aids has in some ways grown only more appealing to enthusiasts.
The M500 has double-wishbone suspension at each corner with coilover springs and passive dampers. There is hydraulically assisted power steering but no anti-lock brakes or airbags.
The only gearbox option is a Graziano-sourced six-speed manual with a metal gate and shift action unique to Noble.
In the cabin are two Recaro Podium seats (although less hardcore options will be available), which offer a favourable driving position on first impression, albeit with pedals marginally offset, and a simple digital instrument pack. Entry and egress have been made easier than in the M600 by a chassis redesign that made the door sills smaller.