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Monday 26th July 2004

Noble M400

Pushing hard at Bedford Autodrome - Roger Green reviews the most powerful Noble to date


For the first six months of ’04, the PH forum was rife with rumour and speculation over the Noble M400. It’s final spec, price, top speed and supercar slaying properties were all argued in depth. The general consensus, quite naturally, was that as the 3R had been such a spectacular driver’s car, the M400 would be sensational.

At the launch, the official figures heightened anticipation further with the venerable 3-litre Ford Duratec V6 now tuned to develop a mighty 425bhp at 6500rpm (401bhp/ton) and an equally wholesome 390lb ft of torque at 5000rpm. Larger turbo chargers, forged pistons and high-lift cams are the secrets behind the extra shove, along with the required engine remapping and improved cooling.

Noble M400 It was more than just the power plant that had undergone development though - the M400 is aimed squarely at those drivers who enjoy the odd track outing as well as the road stuff and this has meant a comprehensive list of chassis revisions too. There’s a new front anti-roll bar for starters along with springs and dampers from Dynamics and soft, lightly treaded Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres.

It’s a compelling package and Noble have also taken a look at some of the detailing too - the Achillies heel of the M12. The appearance has always hit the spot, but this is down to the perfect proportions rather than the styling itself. It could never be accused of lacking drama but from some angles it is also a little over fussy lacking ultimate finesse. The M400 aesthetics are not helped by the garish decals (although you don’t have to have these) the huge scoops and the omission of the front splitter. It is not fitted to the M400 to save weight (it has little effect on front downforce), but it has the effect of making the nose look a little high.

Noble M400 Inside the mix of switchgear is no match for the perfectly formed ergonomics of a Porsche, and let’s not forget at £55,995, we’re getting into 997 money. However, the driving position has been improved by a floor pan redesign so that the new Sparco seats can be positioned more centrally and more in-line with the pedals.

Warp Speed

Perhaps we shouldn’t linger too long on the aesthetics, it is, afterall designed to be driven rather than gawped at and you should be in no doubt of the M400’s performance. The thrust is simply phenomenal. Once the Garrett T28 turbochargers spool up the rev needle arcs its way around the white dial to the 7200rpm limiter in a blur and a ferocious, explosive burst of acceleration. The way it accelerates can best be described as shockingly violent.

The six-speed gearbox has been improved too with new shift mechanisim which makes the process more positive than previous M12s. It’s still not perfect, but much of the slackness has been tightened up and the next ratio slots home faster.   

Ride & Handling

Noble M400 The non-ABS brakes are the same as those found on the 3R - 330mm diameter discs all round, with four-pot callipers, but there is more bias to the rear. They are very strong and on a dry road also gain greater power thanks to those trick trackday tyres. Use the brakes hard and you feel yourself straining against the harnesses as the M400 sheds speed in a hurry.

Despite the added stiffness of the M400, it retains most of the compliance of previous M12s, which has always been one of its strengths. Breakaway is sharper on the exit of a bend but that has as much to with extra poke and grippier tyres as it does with the suspension.

The car we tested had a slightly thicker front anti-rollbar than those that will be fitted to customer cars and on a dry road it produced a small amount of understeer (a first on a Noble). When we took the car to Bedford Autodrome however, that understeer became very significant, particularly in the wet. In the dry it was a little frustrating, especially in long, slow-to-medium bends, but as the rain came down the car became quite a handful.

The tyres are admittedly designed for the dry, but I’m convinced they would have been okay on the 3R in these conditions. Here the M400 went from massive understeer to huge oversteer with little warning and you had to be on the top of your game to gather it all up. It was one seriously hairy ride. Noble have revised the steering rack to allow a further 0.8 of a turn between the lock-stops and you need all of it in the rain.

Noble M400 This is undoubtedly the most hardcore M12 yet, but I’m not convinced it the best in the range. The 3R may be a little slower on track but it is still one of the fastest machines you will find on any trackday and it is still the more accomplished road car. It is also considerably less spikey if it starts to rain while you’re flat-out on the Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch. But if lap times are your thing and you are one of those trackday drivers who book at the last minute once you’ve seen the weather forecast, then go for it and enjoy the huge adrenaline rush of that rocket-ship engine.

Of course now we have seen the M400, speculation has moved on. The all-new M14 was the star of the Birmingham motorshow and Noble report that they have taken a pile of orders already. The first cars are promised at the end of the year and I for one can’t wait to try it.

Roger Green

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smele

Original Poster:

1,275 posts

167 months

[news] 
Monday 26th July 2004 quote quote all
Hmmmmm.......They just seemed to get better with every new model.

micknall

826 posts

132 months

[news] 
Monday 26th July 2004 quote quote all
Please note that Roger drove the M400 some months ago (at the same time as Evo magazine) and we have since refined this car's front anti-roll bar design.

It seems unfortunate that his test was performed almost exclusively in wet conditions with standing water, where we acknowledge that the M400 will not perform at its optimum level.

The whole point of this model is that it IS NOT a handful on the limit - quite the opposite, in fact. There is certainly a trace of understeer in the dry, but that is there to promote driver-confidence at higher speeds.

As mentioned in my earlier posting, for a comparative dry-weather assessment, please read tomorrow's issue of Autocar.

Simon Hucknall
Press Officer
Noble Automotive Ltd.

robertuk

589 posts

145 months

[news] 
Monday 26th July 2004 quote quote all
This design rocks !

Love the sweeping curves.

Nobles are different, This one is exceptional !

The front - imagine looking in your rear view mirror and seeing this magnificent beast behind you !

The rear - Previously I've had issues with the rear view of Nobles. That stretched look did not appeal to me. I suppose this is due to engineering and aerodynamic constraints ..they are fast after all .
The lights and exhausts balance and form a triangle
Suggests controlled power ?

This one deserves 11/10 !

Side Profile - seems to hug the road quite well
Reminds me of a Ferrari ...which is what us 25-40 yr olds love. Our first supercar ( albeit in Matchbox form!) was probably Magnum's 308 .


I would grab one if I could ! This is the best new design I've seen in ages.

Wish there was one on my road in SW London, I'd grab my camera .

Well done guys.

Ramesh

>> Edited by robertuk on Monday 26th July 18:18

ThatPhilBrettGuy

11,622 posts

123 months

[news] 
Monday 26th July 2004 quote quote all
robertuk said:
This design rocks !

Love the sweeping curves.

Nobles are different, This one is exceptional !

The front - imagine looking in your rear view mirror and seeing this magnificent beast behind you !

The rear - Previously I've had issues with the rear view of Nobles. That stretched look did not appeal to me. I suppose this is due to engineering and aerodynamic constraints ..they are fast after all .
The lights and exhausts balance and form a triangle
Suggests controlled power ?

This one deserves 11/10 !

Side Profile - seems to hug the road quite well
Reminds me of a Ferrari ...which is what us 25-40 yr olds love. Our first supercar ( albeit in Matchbox form!) was probably Magnum's 308 .


I would grab one if I could ! This is the best new design I've seen in ages.

Wish there was one on my road in SW London, I'd grab my camera .

Well done guys.

Ramesh

>> Edited by robertuk on Monday 26th July 18:18

Odd that you should like this one so much. Unless you've only seen M10's (and the chances of that are about zero) they all look about the same.

V6GTO

11,570 posts

125 months

[news] 
Monday 26th July 2004 quote quote all
robertuk said:
This design rocks !

Love the sweeping curves.

Nobles are different, This one is exceptional !

The front - imagine looking in your rear view mirror and seeing this magnificent beast behind you !

The rear - Previously I've had issues with the rear view of Nobles. That stretched look did not appeal to me. I suppose this is due to engineering and aerodynamic constraints ..they are fast after all .
The lights and exhausts balance and form a triangle
Suggests controlled power ?

This one deserves 11/10 !

Side Profile - seems to hug the road quite well
Reminds me of a Ferrari ...which is what us 25-40 yr olds love. Our first supercar ( albeit in Matchbox form!) was probably Magnum's 308 .


I would grab one if I could ! This is the best new design I've seen in ages.

Wish there was one on my road in SW London, I'd grab my camera .

Well done guys.

Ramesh

>> Edited by robertuk on Monday 26th July 18:18


Ramesh/Robert, you are obviously a man with exceedingly good taste! Martin.
Advertisement

robertuk

589 posts

145 months

[news] 
Monday 26th July 2004 quote quote all
I'm embarrassed.

I thought I was commenting on the M14 !

This is what happens when you have three windows open across two monitors !

Ramesh

>> Edited by robertuk on Monday 26th July 18:53

ThatPhilBrettGuy

11,622 posts

123 months

[news] 
Monday 26th July 2004 quote quote all
robertuk said:
....
This is very different - if all new Nobles cause a similar reaction there is going to be quite a few non petrol heads placing an order....

Sorry Ramesh if I'm being slow but all the Nobles made for the last 3 or so years have exactly this backend. Maybe the shots are at different angles to how you've seen them before.

Glad you like it anyway. We all do!

Cheers

Phil

amg merc

8,901 posts

136 months

[news] 
Monday 26th July 2004 quote quote all
Ramesh, sure you were talking about the new M14, as all generations of the M12 are very close in appearance!

I'm in SW London so wave, or jump out in front of me, if you dare, if you happen to see me! :-)

>> Edited by amg merc on Monday 26th July 19:08

robertuk

589 posts

145 months

[news] 
Monday 26th July 2004 quote quote all
Yes The M14 made me go crazy.

I felt I just had to say something about this great new car.

Saw the words noble on PH
clicked comments and ....commented on the m400 my *mistake.*

Great your in SW London ! I've noticed we seem to have a great selection of cars.

The M14 rocks !

sixspeed

1,818 posts

155 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th July 2004 quote quote all
Is a UK Noble available with the US-spec rear lights? (or can they be changed after?) I just *hate* those obvious Mondeo rear lights!


-andy-

Izza

565 posts

159 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th July 2004 quote quote all
With all this power, how does the motor get on at low revs?

There must be some turbo-lag starting to creep in?

V6GTO

11,570 posts

125 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th July 2004 quote quote all
Izza said:
With all this power, how does the motor get on at low revs?

There must be some turbo-lag starting to creep in?


There's only one answer to this question...grab a test drive. Only problem though, it's the same old story, once driven you're hooked! Those test drives have proved to be Noble's best sales tactic. Within 200 yards you know you HAVE to have one!

Martin.

micknall

826 posts

132 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th July 2004 quote quote all
No turbo-lag to speak of - it pulls strongly from v.low revs. Remember, there are two turbochargers and we start with a relatively big capacity engine, so there's always plenty of torque from low down in the rev range.

Sorry - the US lights are not available for UK or European Nobles. The rear panel on these cars is a different moulding.

Simon Hucknall
Press Officer
Noble Automotive Ltd.

smele

Original Poster:

1,275 posts

167 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th July 2004 quote quote all
sixspeed said:
Is a UK Noble available with the US-spec rear lights? (or can they be changed after?) I just *hate* those obvious Mondeo rear lights!


-andy-


You would not want US spec rear lights anyway, they have blinking brake lights, very silly.

There must be someone out there making after-market Mondeo brake lights for the European market that you might like.

V6GTO

11,570 posts

125 months

[news] 
Friday 6th August 2004 quote quote all
smele said:



You would not want US spec rear lights anyway, they have blinking brake lights, very silly.



I think you'll find it's not the lens' that do the blinking, it's the electrickery. M.
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