Noble M12 GTO

12 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Noble M12 GTO
Noble M12 GTO

Noble M12 GTO

I f Ferrari, Porsche and Lotus are giants, then Noble could be giant killer. When Noble built the first M10, it was no more than an alternative to Lotus Elise. Now with the turbocharging M12 GTO, it can challenge 360 Modena, Esprit V8 and 911 GT2, and you may be surprised that it really beat them in most areas real drivers concerned.

Nothing could be more dramatic – Noble Moy Automotive is just a new and poor sports car specialist in Britain. Although founder Lee Noble is highly respected in the inner circle of sports car business, he has little recognition outside and little financial back up. However, as an independent specialist, he did created several supercars for other companies, such as Ascari Ecosse and Ultima Can Am. But the best is still reserved for himself.

This is the Noble M12 GTO.

From its look you might guess it is just another rough-finished supercar. Yes, build quality is bad, many components come from mass production parts pool, design is tasteless, desirability is low. In this way it seems even rawer than nowadays’ TVR, quite contradictory to the name Noble.

But the M12 functions flawlessly. Its tubular steel chassis is strong, glass-fiber bodywork is light, massive wing and skirts generate tremendous downforce, compact size aids agility on B-roads, supple ride best for cross-country journey and finally, the roof is high and cabin space is abundance for 2 occupants plus belongings. Noble lets us realize how styling and build quality could compromise functionality.

M12 GTO is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-litre V6 mounted transversely amid-ship. The base engine comes from Ford Mondeo, so does the five-speed gearbox. The Duratec V6’s all-alloy construction is ideal for the weight requirement of Noble. Adding a pair of Garrett T25 turbochargers and air-to-air intercooler, the engine now pumps out 310 horsepower at 6000rpm and 320 lbft of torque at 3500rpm.

Not Ferrari or Porsche-matching, but the Noble weighs just 980kg with a full tank of fuel, which is nearly half a tone lighter than rivals. moreover, the rather light boost pressure results in gentle turbo lag thus drivability is unusually high for this kind of cars. Of course, this kind of cars does not include the latest Porsche.

As tested by Autocar magazine, the Noble sprints from zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds and to 100mph in 9.4 seconds, that put it in the same league of 911 Turbo and TVR Tuscan, though not as quick as GT2 and Tuscan S. Its downforce-biased shape prevents it from reaching over 165mph, but in real world conditions the Noble is hard to be beaten, thanks to its superb chassis. Lightweight, rigid, compact, grippy and all-round double wishbones suspensions are just the basic ingredient, but most important is that Lee Noble’s tuning work is as accurate as racing teams.

The M12 steers quickly and precisely with its 2.5-turn steering rack yet the weighting is rather light in NSX-style. Unfiltered streams of feedback coming from the front tyres let you know how much grip left. But if you want to try its cornering limit, you have to go very hard no matter in dry or wet.

The Noble has tremendous grip like track cars – the only road car matching it is Lotus Exige – thanks to that 225 front and 265 rear tyres which are undoubtedly very wide for a car weighing less than a tone. Also thanks to that tremendous downforce which press the car firmly on tarmac. We have no downforce figure, but considering the car has deep air dam, huge rear wing and even ground-effect diffuser at the tail, you can imagine how great it is.

The chassis is so well tuned that it never understeer. It just go neutral at any speed, change direction instantly as you desired. At slow corner, however, you can power slide it with more throttle, and that occurs calmly under control. Brakes are another strong card: you’ll be amazed that the lightweight Noble employs the same size of discs as Ferrari 360 and 911 Turbo, clamped by AP alloy calipers with 4 pistons.

As a result, stopping power is unbeatable while pedal feel is terrific.

Noble M12 GTO

I said Noble is a good cross-country machine because 2 British magazines took it to Europe and commented favourably – CAR drove it to Germany to meet Porsche GT2 at Weissach; Autocar drove it to Paris and then Monaco for Supercar Rally. Unlike many other British sports cars – Lotus and TVR included – the Noble is quite comfortable and easy to live with. In Esprit, you feel the cramped cabin and heavy controls make long journey impossible.

In TVR Tuscan, you have to keep 100% alert to prevent its explosive power from overwhelming the weak chassis. In contrast, the Noble’s superb chassis allows you to drive at any speed you like on any roads you have never driven. It is fun yet safe. Its suspensions are amazingly comfortable for this kind of cars.

Its steering, clutch and throttle are light to operate. It can stud in traffic like a hatchback without complaint.

Predictably, the Noble is simple and almost stripped out. It does not have electric windows, electric seats, 6-speaker Hi-Fi, trip-computer, ABS, Traction Control etc. The steering is adjustable in reach but not rake, the seats can be adjustable only back and forth. Luckily, the inherent driving position is good for most people, the forward visibility is excellent and air conditioning is available as option.

Again, I have to stress that the Noble is undesirable to look at, to touch and to sit in, but after the first turn of steering wheel, your view will be changed completely. It is a more powerful interpretation of Lotus Elise. If Lotus is to build M250, this is the car it should study.

Also predictably, Noble is modest in price, because not many rich people can understand the beauty of it. At £45,000, it is half the price of 911 Turbo. Yet Lee Noble expects to build just 100 cars annually. The first year’s production was already sold out early this year, so Noble’s small business plan seems work out now. However, he won’t call it successful until he earn enough money to develop another car.

And I’m sure that will be more ambitious than the M12.

The above report was last updated on 2 Nov 2001. All Rights Reserved.

Noble M12 GTO
Noble M12 GTO
Noble M12 GTO
Noble M12 GTO
Noble M12 GTO
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