Anyway, Noble’s new car, the M500, aims to sit in that niche. It’s more attainable than the M600 that it replaces, less powerful and cheaper to make, so out goes the 4.4-litre V8 that arrived in Leicester in a crate and took a heap of work before it made its way into the car. (Noble has a few left; you can pick one up on eBay.) In comes Ford’s Ecoboost 3.5-litre V6, which is rather easier to turn up to the 506bhp it gets.
Mid-mounted, it drives through a six-speed manual gearbox, which is supplied by Graziano and used to be offered in the Audi R8. Rear-driven, this prototype has an open differential, but customer cars will get a mechanical limited-slip one. There’s still no ABS, although the brakes are more assisted than in the unnervingly heavy-pedalled M600. There’s power steering and there’s a traction control system, but other than that, it’s just you and machine – which feels no bad thing to me.
The machine itself has a steel spaceframe, as per the M600. In fact, it’s about “70% M600”, according to Peter Boutwood, Noble’s managing director, although with lower sills to aid entry and a slightly wider track. The body on top is now glassfibre rather than carbonfibre – heavier but much cheaper to put together. And there are two seats inside, plus a pretty accommodatingly sized boot at the front.
Digital dials, air-con, a stereo and a reversing camera: that’s your lot.
This prototype has quite a heavy body, on account of it being made with crude moulds (although fit and finish is actually pretty good); Noble is still productionising the M500 and seeing where weight can come out of it. As a result, it weighs around 1400kg in its current form, but Boutwood is targeting a number in the 1200kg range. (The M600 tipped Autocar’s road test scales at 1305kg even when fully fuelled, so it’s an intrinsically light set-up.)
Settling inside is like being dropped into a cocoon of Alcantara – an atmosphere that I rather like. The pedals are slightly offset to the left and the steering wheel, not quite round, is fairly small. But the pedals themselves are perfectly spaced, and even though the brake has a bigger servo, middle-pedal feel is still strong.