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Jaguar killer? British sports carmaker Noble unleashes the M14 to compete with Ferrari and Porsche

HAVING conquered the specialist sports car market over the last five years, Noble Automotive has now launched an all-new model, which will firmly establish it at the quality end of the supercar market. The British M14 is set to take on rivals, such as the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Ferrari 360 Modena, with a tantalizing mix of class-leading dynamics, prodigious performance, a finely crafted and well equipped cabin, and levels of practicality that will appeal to owners who wish to use their car every day.

“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 160 kph. We also anticipate that M14 buyers will demand ‘jump-in-and-drive’ convenience, without any sacrifice in exclusivity or sophistication,” said Lee Noble, head of design.

Priced at £74,950, the M14 is now the flagship of the Noble range, falling into place above the existing M12 models.

From the M14’s conception, 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.

“Passion has dominated the M14’s design philosophy,” says Lee, “but we’ve also ensured that the car has a thoroughly bespoke feel in its detailing.”

This fact is obvious when you look more closely at the car: beautifully engineered door handles, hewn from billets of aluminum; 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 aluminum engine cover; and the body-colored rear diffuser, which cuts deep into the rear panel, highlighting the twin exhausts which exit from its center. Overall, 95 percent of the components which make up the M14 are distinct from the current M12 series of cars, and an additional 70 percent 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 178 mm to 4,267 mm and its width by 50 mm to 1,935 mm. 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.

Noble has chosen again to adopt a highly-modified version of Ford’s 3.0-liter 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. Maximum power is 400 hp at 6,100 rpm, with a wholesome 522 Newton-meters of torque at 4,750 rpm. Estimated performance time from 0 to 100 kph is 4.3 seconds and 9.5 seconds from 0 to 160 kph. Estimated top speed is 300 kph.

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 percent of the engine’s torque available at just 2,750 rpm. And in typical Noble style, the engine will be placid and tractable from as low as 1,000 rpm, highlighting the M14’s versatility in everyday driving conditions. A cultured exhaust note has been engineered to excite the senses under acceleration.

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 finest 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.

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 peripheral vision. For this reason, the most frequently used functions are performed by a bank of six buttons located on the steering wheel.

The instrument cluster comprises a speedometer and rev counter, the graphics and needles of which glow blue when the ignition is switched on. As the engine revs rise, the rev counter’s needle changes from blue to pink as it sweeps past the 4,100-rpm increment, and from pink to red from 6,100 rpm to the 7,200-rpm engine cut-out.

With Jaguar’s floundering sales performance in recent months, Noble is in a good position to seize the throne of Britain’s premier sports carmaker.

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