Driven: Noble M600 (Production Version)


You learn an awful lot about yourself when someone throws you the keys to the world's first and only production ready Noble M600 - the one with the carbon fibre body, 650bhp twin-turbo V8 engine and precisely nada in the way of ABS - and says; "See you in a couple of days' time."


For starters, a sizeable portion of self discipline is required the first time you find yourself on an empty roundabout, just around the corner from the factory where you picked the car up not two minutes ago, to discover that the exit ahead is clear - and comes in the form of at least two miles of delicious looking dual carriageway.

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.


Thanks to a combination of fairly chilled spring rates, beautifully resolved damping, quite stiff anti-roll bars and, of course, monumentally wide 355 section rear tyres, it can deploy its energy with quite extraordinary efficiency. Even with the motor set to full-fat 650bhp mode, this car can take full throttle from as little as 2000rpm without lighting up its rear tyres in second gear - so long as you're pointing in a straight line and it's dry.

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.


And that's what makes this car such a revelation overall because, in most respects, it's not what you'd expect it to be at all. It's about 100 times better. And this new production-spec version is very obviously the best of the lot so far.

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.


This is not to say that the M600 isn't inherently safe in a crash, but neither does it contain the passive safety features that you'd expect to find in a mainstream supercar. Think of it as Noble's 'unfair advantage' - and cross your fingers that you don't run out of talent on a soaking wet, downhill mountain pass that may or may not be starting to ice over...

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.


In the end, though, the 30 or so people who Noble will be looking to sell an M600 to each year aren't, you suspect, going to be all that bothered by this car's more-than-acceptable interior quality, or its surprising long distance cruising refinement. Or even its welcome ability to do 29mpg on a motorway.

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.


If you are of the correct persuasion (ie reasonably but not terminally unhinged), then the M600 can, and will, take you to a level that none of its competition can match. And in the end that is its unique selling point; its justification for being.

At £200k it's a fabulously expensive toy, true, but then the very best games never did come cheap.

 
Noble M600 £200,000
0-60mph 3.5sec
Fuel Consumption 21.3mpg (test)
CO2 emissions n/a
Kerb weight "sub 1200kg"
Engine layout V8, 4414cc, petrol, twin-turbo
Installation mid, longitudinal, rear wheel-drive
Power 650bhp/6800rpm
Torque 604lb ft/3800rpm
Power to weight 541bhp/tonne
Specific output 147bhp/litre
Compression ratio 9.5:1
Gearbox 6-speed manual
Length 4430mm
Width 1930mm (ex mirrors)
Height 1130mm
Wheelbase 2540mm
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

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (407) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Daisy Duke 27 Jun 2011

    joust said:
    Daisy Duke said:
    I wonder if Peter has trouble recognising people as you're not the first to mention that they've been ignored by him until they're pointed out to him - or maybe in your case you have more interesting friends? wink
    Peter knows exactly what I look like - he spent hours in my comlany before the M600 was announced and at one point I was apparently in his magic circle, asking me to 'leak' stuff on here.
    He's spent many hours in Phil's too but still didn't seem to immediately recognise him on Friday either, even though he knew he'd be saying 'Hello' at some point. I wouldn't take it personally if I were you.

    joust said:
    I admire your positive spin on each step backwards and the lovely stories you seemingly come up with as explanations, but you sure you haven't got some rather nicely tinted specs? After all, if people really did want 50 a year, then employing more people isn't a retrograde step back as the fixed costs are the same. Anyone in business knows that variable labour costs are not what kills you.
    I'm not spinning - I'm just trying to pass on what I know, or have been told, in as unbiased manner as possible. I assure you I don't have tinted specs on (are you sure your view isn't coloured by your previous dealings with Peter?), but I don't see the point in constantly trying to see the negatives either. In this particular case, I was simply putting forward a hypothesis that it was the cost (and hassle) of enlarging the facilities and procuring and training more staff, not the actual labour cost itself, that was the limiting factor on production numbers. Of course I'm well aware that Peter could be lying about the number of orders, but he could just say nothing if he wanted to, and I could of course keep any future information I get to myself as it seems it's not appreciated.

  • joust 27 Jun 2011

    Daisy Duke said:
    I wonder if Peter has trouble recognising people as you're not the first to mention that they've been ignored by him until they're pointed out to him - or maybe in your case you have more interesting friends? wink
    Peter knows exactly what I look like - he spent hours in my comlany before the M600 was announced and at one point I was apparently in his magic circle, asking me to 'leak' stuff on here.

    However, when I asked for my deposit back, the reaction was rather different, but that's old ground.

    I admire your positive spin on each step backwards and the lovely stories you seemingly come up with as explanations, but you sure you haven't got some rather nicely tinted specs? After all, if people really did want 50 a year, then employing more people isn't a retrograde step back as the fixed costs are the same. Anyone in business knows that variable labour costs are not what kills you.

  • Daisy Duke 27 Jun 2011

    joust said:
    Daisy, sounds like they are taking customers seriously, but to do otherwise would be real suicide. Unsure what the Red car is then (the LHD) as it was cited some months ago as being a customer car No. 5. Seems the information flow is a bit erratic and not clear then on the forums here.

    Whilst production issues can explain the lateness, not sure about the 5 times reduction in build volumes, unless they got something very wrong when they announced the cars. More likely I am sure they have aligned their market with the production. I've always said they would have a market in the very low numbers for it, after all you can find 10's of people to buy almost anything it would appear - Ascari and Arash have proved that previously, Lexus more recently.
    The red LHD car is a demonstrator and IIRC the car being delivered next month is car no.5. Whilst another problem caused the initial delay, the ongoing issue with production seems to revolve around the fact that only four people build each car and they can't do it any quicker to the high standards they've set themselves. I presume that to increase the rate of production would require more staff and enlarged facilities, something Noble are wary of considering at this early stage. I don't think getting the orders is a problem (one chap wants at least six, maybe as many as ten!), but fulfilling them in an acceptable timeframe may be. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see, unfortunately I don't think many will be UK registered cars though.

    Interesting that you mentioned the LFA though, we were asked if we wanted to order one. Phil said he thought that all 500 had been sold, and was then told that yes they had, but we could have one within seven months. He pointed out that the original buyers probably wouldn't be too impressed to know that they were continuing to produce them. The salesperson seemed unconcerned with the significance of this and said they weren't going to produce that many more. So much for the limited number production run then!

    joust said:
    However, still unsure why Peter didn't want to say hello at TGBW at Le Mans, but perhaps he was more engrossed in talking to my friends?
    J
    I wonder if Peter has trouble recognising people as you're not the first to mention that they've been ignored by him until they're pointed out to him - or maybe in your case you have more interesting friends? wink

  • fatbutt 27 Jun 2011

    joust said:
    Confirmed as a vanity project then because the maths relly don't work on that basis.
    To me this is game over really and confirms everything we naysayers have been harping on about. There is no business case here, just bragging rights. Knowing this I have no problem with the pricing strategy and the styling - in a world of 6 million people, there are at least 12 people who can be made to part with the cash per year for the next 2 or 3 years (i.e. until the novelty wears off).

    This isn't a going concern, just a hobby, in which case fair enough. Whatever wings your ding Mr Dyson.

  • joust 27 Jun 2011

    Daisy, sounds like they are taking customers seriously, but to do otherwise would be real suicide. Unsure what the Red car is then (the LHD) as it was cited some months ago as being a customer car No. 5. Seems the information flow is a bit erratic and not clear then on the forums here.

    Whilst production issues can explain the lateness, not sure about the 5 times reduction in build volumes, unless they got something very wrong when they announced the cars. More likely I am sure they have aligned their market with the production. I've always said they would have a market in the very low numbers for it, after all you can find 10's of people to buy almost anything it would appear - Ascari and Arash have proved that previously, Lexus more recently.

    As to the letter, I moved on over that a long time ago - after all I'm not going to buy one from him! My point in the wider article in what you have quoted just that bit was that it seemed strange to write a long letter explaining the cars position, as well as saying "you have made a mistake" to someone that wanted their deposit back.

    However, still unsure why Peter didn't want to say hello at TGBW at Le Mans, but perhaps he was more engrossed in talking to my friends? Me, I was more engrossed in having a close look at the black/red car he had to compare against the blue one and didn't really have much to say. If Peter can't remember what he wrote it would seem he's moved on (otherwise it would be on his computer) so that is that.

    J

    J

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