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Noble steals the (British Motor) show with a surprise new supercar. Image by Noble.

Noble steals the (British Motor) show with a surprise new supercar
Noble stole the show in Birmingham when the new M14 supercar was revealed. We were there.
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My first true 'in the flesh' experience of a Noble sportscar was only last year. We were testing the Lancer Evo 8 at Bruntingthorpe when a rather tasty looking silver projectile went by. The esteemed Don Palmer was at the wheel of the Mitsubishi and even in his hands we could not keep up with the well-driven Noble M12. It turned out that Lee Noble himself was doing the driving, honing the chassis dynamics.

Though we have not yet driven a Noble (later this year hopefully), I later had a rapid passenger ride on the twisting and bucking Leicestershire roads near the Noble factory. The M12 stunned me, not only with its prodigious grip and vociferous acceleration, but also its ability to remain composed on some nasty cambers and surfaces. This Noble guy obviously knows what he is doing.

The mainstream media have criticised the Noble M12 range for questionable styling and an interior not commensurate with the price tag. Practicality was also an issue. In short, the Noble cars were seen as expensive track-biased toys, despite their undoubted prowess on the road as well as the track. Unbeknown to the world, Lee Noble decided that was not enough for him. The result of nine months of intensive behind-the-scenes work was revealed on the press day at the 2004 British Motor Show: the M14 supercar.

Starting with the sleek exterior, it is obvious that Noble is aiming higher with the M14. Looking more like a proper supercar than the stunning, but a little unusual M12, the M14 is unique, but its design has overtones of Ferrari with the six circular rear lights and Lamborghini influences around the square-jawed face. There is even a touch of the MG SV X-power around the curvaceous haunches. Shapes from earlier Noble sportscars are present in abundance: the glasshouse shape for instance and the shape of the front wings, especially when viewed from the side. This is no bad thing. Noble has developed his own design characteristics and should build on this to give the brand identification if he wants to compete with the likes of Ferrari and Porsche.

That's right, Noble is aiming the M14 at buyers who may consider a Porsche 911 or even a second-hand Ferrari 360M. The M14 price is to be a little over 75,000 when the first cars are sold late in 2004, so it better be good. Lee Noble comments, "We aim to catch an entirely new audience with this model, one that cares as much about the grade of leather used in the cabin as how fast the car will accelerate to 100 mph." There is no doubt that the M14 performs. It is fitted with the Noble-developed twin-turbo and intercooled Ford V6, which develops 400 bhp and 385 lb.ft of torque. It also sounds fantastic; though we are a little surprised that Noble opted for the same powerplant as in the rest of the Noble range. Admittedly, it is well proven, and not short on performance, but we would not be surprised to hear that Noble are developing one of Ford's V8 for future use.

After all, the future does look bright at Noble. In only five years of operation, the company has exceeded Lee Noble's original targets of 300 cars per year. The aim is now to produce closer to 800 per annum. Sitting into the M14, we have no doubt that it will bring a whole new breed of customers to the company. The fit and finish is perfect, and the attention to detail is incredible. The styling of the dashboard is individual, but minimalist (helped by moving buttons for such things as the hazard lights to the steering wheel). The instrument dials are gorgeous, and incorporate a feature where the dials change colour, for instance going red when approaching the redline of the rev counter. It may sound a little gimmicky, but it looks great. As does the rest of the cabin, from the leather-lined seats to the machined aluminium door handles.

Speaking to Stuart Jones (Director of Noble Automotive Ltd.) at the motor show, the whole company is very excited about the M14, and pleased as punch with the reception it has received from the hypercritical media. Unfortunately, the show car is the only M14 in existence. As soon as the show finishes, the car will undergo months of intensive development. The first cars will have bodies made in vinylester GRP, though Noble has mentioned the possibility of making it all in carbon fibre in the future.

If you are fortunate enough to be spending 75,000 on a sportscar this year, take a long hard look at the Noble M14 before you go for the more obvious Italian or German routes. The M14 packages stunning performance, a chassis developed by a real enthusiast, practicality (it has 300 litres of luggage space) and a beautiful interior in a sleek, individual supercar shape.

Shane O' Donoghue - 28 May 2004

2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.

2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.    - Noble news
- M14 images

2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.

2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.

2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.

2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.

2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.

2004 Noble M14. Image by Noble.

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