DRIVEN: NOBLE M600 (PRODUCTION VERSION)
Steve Sutcliffe straps his biggest balls on for PH...
For a moment you'll just wonder. And then your inner voice will either tell you to calm down, reminding you that there's a job to do here, and that there will be plenty of opportunities to let rip; or it'll tell you to rotate the M600's power button round to max, flick the traction control system off and discover, right there and then, how hot it really is in the centre of Hades.
Me? Maybe I'm getting old but, for once, I took the medium option, set the power to its 550bhp 'track' setting and left the TC button well alone - and even then I damn near had a heart attack as the 'sub 1200kg' M600 tore its way out of that first roundabout. It's an incredible machine for all sorts of reasons, the new Noble, but the traction it develops - despite being rear-wheel-drive, and despite boasting a better power ratio than most other supercars on sale - is arguably its ultimate trick.
Out of a corner, no, you'll generate armfuls of wheelspin - and need to throw armfuls of well judged steering lock at it to avoid an appointment with the shrubs. And in the wet, don't even think about disengaging the TC. In any gear.
The point is, though, in spite of its vast power, its relatively humble design origins and its insatiable appetite for hallucinogenic levels of acceleration, when it comes right down to it the M600 isn't, in fact, the monster you'd half expect it to be. It's actually a well mannered, albeit very rapid machine that will, in the end, do everything it can to help you out - even if your inner maniac gets carried away every once in a while.
What's different about this particular car compared with the other M600s that have done the rounds among the various magazines since last year? Quite a bit, as it happens, the big news concerning the full carbon-fibre bodyshell. This alone shaves over 50kg from the quoted kerbweight, ensuring that the M600 weighs several hundred kilos less than the likes of the McLaren MP4-12C or Ferrari 458 Italia. Which you'd expect it to given its lack of anti-lock brakes, its relative absence of sound deadening materials and, most crucially, its low-volume approach to things like airbags, safety cells etc.
What's also new, and very much improved, are the M600's brakes and its quality of finish. Not just on the carbon body (which is genuinely first class in its execution) but also inside, with things like the switchgear and the general levels of fit. Apart from the driving position (which is still a bit knees up, arms out, even for a chap with unlong limbs like me), the quality of the interior is as decent as you'd expect given the car's price, its providence and its pedigree.
Instead they will be more concerned, you imagine, by what happens when they peer over the precipice and take a good long look into the abyss. Because that, ultimately, is when the M600 needs to deliver.
The good news, both for its owners and the people who make it, is that when that moment arrives, the M600 over-delivers on its promise. From the way it steers to the way it stops to the ways it handles - and, most of all, to the way it fires you towards your destiny as if you were at the very end of some giant, industrial-spec bungee cord - the M600 is the weapon to end all weapons. The ultimate machine for people who think a McLaren is too predictable, a Ferrari 458 a touch too obvious.
At £200k it's a fabulously expensive toy, true, but then the very best games never did come cheap.
|Fuel Consumption||21.3mpg (test)|
|Kerb weight||"sub 1200kg"|
|Engine layout||V8, 4414cc, petrol, twin-turbo|
|Installation||mid, longitudinal, rear wheel-drive|
|Power to weight||541bhp/tonne|
|Width||1930mm (ex mirrors)|
|Fuel tank||73 litres|
|Range||300 miles (approx)|
|Front suspension||Double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|Rear suspension||Double wishbones, coil springs. anti-roll bar|
|Brakes||380mm front, 350mm rear, steel ventilated|
|Wheels||9jx19in (front), 12jx20in (rear), alloy|
|Tyres||255/30 ZR19in front, 355/30 ZR 20in rear|