Greatest road tests ever: Noble M12 GTO

99 noble m12

We look back at one of the finest independent British supercars

Tested 23.3.01

Noble’s first car, the M10 convertible, had been a surprisingly capable eyesore. But the handsome M12 took the small British manufacturer into veritable supercar territory.

All-round double wishbones, adjustable dampers, 330mm Alcon stoppers and 265mmwide rear tyres hinted at track potential, while a 2.5-litre Ford Duratec V6 used twin Garrett turbochargers to elicit breakneck starts and deeply impressive in-gear sprints from the car’s meagre 980kg mass.

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Tractability was good from low revs, but the blowers really started to tell around 2500rpm; pace matched the Porsche 911 GT2 to 120mph. The combined noise from the intake, turbos and exhaust was all-enveloping. The Mondeo-derived five-speed manual ’box was quick and affable, and ABS-free brakes were dazzlingly effective.

Grip astonished in both the dry and wet, and the chassis was a masterclass in control and response. Limits were high but needed respect in the absence of ESP. The quick, power-assisted steering lacked feel and resistance, though, making the helm feel edgy. The ride aped a larger Lotus Elise: minimal body roll with a flowing, comfortable attitude over tricky roads.

The interior was roomy and nicely finished but lacked seating adjustability.

For: Pace, grip, poise, comfortable ride, fit and finish

Against: Edgy steering, inflexible driving position

What happened next: The 2003-only M12 GTO-3 upped engine capacity to 3.0 litres and was good for 340bhp; then the GTO-3R added a sixth gear, LSD, new alloys and a restyled nose. The track-munching, 425bhp M400 followed before founder Lee Noble sold up in 2006.

Noble Automotive’s current model, the McLaren F1-baiting M600, uses a Yamaha-designed 650bhp V8 and can reach 225mph, with the entry-level 500bhp V6 M500 on the way.

Factfile

Price £44,950 Engine V6, 2595cc, twin-turbo, petrol Power 310bhp at 6000rpm Torque 320lb ft at 3500rpm 0-60mph 3.9sec 0-100mph 9.4sec Standing quarter mile 12.5sec at 114mph Top speed 155mph Economy 19.6mpg

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