Having entered the specialist sports car market over the last five years, Noble Automotive is now launching an all-new model, which will firmly establish it at the upper end of the supercar market.
Head of design, Lee Noble, said of the M14: ”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 100mph. We also anticipate that M14 buyers will demand ‘jump-in-and-drive’ convenience, without any sacrifice in exclusivity or sophistication. I’m satisfied that these criteria have been achieved without any compromise.”
The 2004 British Motor Show unveiled the M14 for the first time. Far from being a mere concept, the show car’s styling, interior, drivetrain and chassis represent what will reach production when the car goes on sale in October of 2004.
From the M14’s conception, Lee Noble has focused on creating a form that eschews current design trends, and majors on a far more emotive shape, led by broad, sweeping curves along the car’s flanks, an aggressive front treatment and a graceful – yet imposing – rear end.
In detail: beautifully engineered door handles, hewn from billets of aluminium; six circular rear light lenses, which make reference to legendary supercars from the past; the rear screen, which reveals the engine’s plenum chamber protruding above the perforated aluminium engine cover; and the body-coloured rear diffuser, which cuts deep into the rear panel, highlighting the twin exhausts which exit from its centre. Overall, 95 per cent of the components which make up the M14 (excluding the drivetrain) are distinct from the current M12 series of cars, and an additional 70 per cent of components are now made in house, compared with previous Noble models.
While the M14 retains the current M12’s wheelbase, its length has grown by 178mm to 4267mm and its width by 50mm to 1935mm. As a result, more space has been liberated in the cabin, compared with the M12, and there are now two luggage compartments, one behind the engine, and one at the front of the car. This increase in size has also helped Noble incorporate significant crash protection in the doors, and deformable sections at the front and rear of the M14, with a view to it achieving full European Type Approval in the future.
Drivetrain & Performance
Noble has chosen again to adopt a highly-modified version of Ford’s 3.0-litre V6, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, for use in the M14. The unit, which in base form also powers certain Jaguar cars, has proved particularly durable in five years of Noble M12 development and production.
Like the GTO-3R and M400 models, the engine employs twin turbochargers, but uses an engine map developed specifically for the M14. In common with the 425bhp M400 model, the M14 will gain forged pistons to ensure durability. Maximum power will be 400bhp at 6100rpm, with a wholesome 385lb ft of torque at 4750rpm. Estimated performance will be 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds, 0-100mph in 9.5 seconds and a top speed of 190mph.
But crude benchmark figures tell only half the story. The Noble M14’s power delivery has been fine-tuned to exploit much of the engine’s potential with minimal effort. In-gear acceleration should be class-leading, with over 90 per cent of the engine’s torque available at just 2750rpm. And in typical Noble style, the engine will be placid and tractable from as low as 1000rpm, highlighting the M14’s versatility in every day driving conditions.
Twin intercoolers now feature in the M14, and are mounted behind each rear wheel arch. This location has two clear advantages: it creates vital space at the back of the car for a luggage compartment; and cooler air can now be ducted over each internal wheel arch cover, rather than above the engine, improving the efficiency of the intercoolers.
The ratios in the M14’s six-speed gearbox have been designed to specifically match its power and torque characteristics, complementing the engine’s linear delivery. In top gear the M14 pulls 26.5mph per 1000rpm, giving it a remarkably relaxed cruising gate, with 70mph registering just over 2600rpm. This gearbox, which is mated to an automatic torque-biasing differential, has received extensive development in Noble’s even more powerful M400 model, and has proved exceptionally durable. A completely new gearshift mechanism, offering drivers slick, finger-light changes, completes the package.
Interior & Packaging
One of Lee Noble’s design briefs was to create a cabin for the M14 that conveyed a feeling of expensiveness, by paying special attention to textures, finish and feel. Trimmed in the Italian leather (Noble uses the same supplier as Ferrari for the M14) there is no mistaking the M14 cabin’s aura of quality and luxury. The padded leather extends throughout the cabin, and is complimented by grey Alcantara roof lining and a gear tunnel and centre console formed in a gunmetal-coloured composite material. The floor and some lower sections of the cabin are trimmed in deep, 80 per cent wool carpet.
Stunning and sumptuous seats will be standard in all M14s are manufactured specifically for Noble. They feature a carbon fibre frame, for strength and lightness, and are trimmed in the same top-grade leather seen elsewhere in the cabin. Both seats incorporate fore and aft adjustment, as well as reclining backrests and tilt adjustment.
Equipped like no other Noble, the M14 will comes with the following:
Electric windows Electric/heated door mirrors Air conditioning Heated windscreen with integral aerial Satellite Navigation (option) Multi-function dashboard display Central locking Alarm/immobiliser
Noble’s key objective when designing the control layout of the M14, was to allow the driver to focus on the road ahead, and not on a plethora of switches outside of his/her peripheral vision. As a result, the main dashboard and console area is clutter free.
Chassis & Construction
The M14’s chassis has been adapted from that used on the highly praised Noble M12. Despite the change in design emphasis with the M14, it was felt that the inherent suppleness in the M12’s ride, combined with its levels of grip and composure, would lend itself to the new car’s design philosophy. Consequently, the existing chassis has been refined – rather than significantly changed – to suit the M14.
All M14 are made from vinylester GRP composite (Noble may also consider carbon fibre in future), built over a steel spaceframe, which is reinforced with bonded and riveted alloy panels. A full roll over cage extends around the inside of the M14’s cabin, adding strength to what will be Noble’s stiffest production structure to date.
Since the weight of the M14 has only grown by 70kgs to 1150kgs, it is anticipated that the immensely powerful braking system from the M12, comprising 330mm ventilated discs all round, with four-piston callipers, will be more than adequate for this application. A switchable traction control system, working through the car’s ECU, will provide security when the car is being driven in adverse conditions.
For the M14, Noble has adopted a completely new design of ten-spoke wheel. Rim size at the rear has increased from 10 to 11J and at the front 8J rims are used. Tyre sizes also increase from 265/35 x 18 to 295/35 x 18 at the rear and from 225/40 x 18 to 235/40 at the front. The show car wears the latest Bridgestone SO-2 rubber, which Noble hopes to employ when the car reaches production.
Priced at 74,950 GDP the M14 will be the flagship of the Noble range, falling into place above the existing M12 models.
Twin Turbo Alloy Ford V6
DOHC, 4 Valves per Cyl
2968 cc / 181.1 in³
89 mm / 3.5 in
79.5 mm / 3.13 in
298.3 kw / 400.0 bhp @ 6100 rpm
134.77 bhp per litre
347.83 bhp per tonne
521.99 nm / 385 ft lbs @ 4750 rpm
body / frame
Vinylester GRP Composite Body over Steel Spaceframe