The M600’s heart is the Yamaha-developed, 4,439cc, dohc, 60-degree V8 that hails from the Volvo XC90. The engine is manufactured in Japan, and then shipped to Motorkraft in the U.S., where its reciprocating parts are swapped out for forged-steel crankshaft and connecting rods married to lightweight forged alloy pistons. The twin-turbo installation is also carried out. The two Garrett turbochargers on bespoke manifolds boost at a modest 1.0 bar, and the power unit makes its 650 hp at 6800 rpm and 604 lb-ft of torque at 3800. A pair of massive intercoolers keep intake temperatures down. The engine is mated to the ubiquitous Italian-made Graziano six-speed manual gearbox, which has seen service in several low-volume supercars. Surprisingly, the M600 does not have a limited slip differential.
Accelerator travel is very precise so you can meter in exactly the amount of squirt required, which makes it a very easy car to balance into and through corners. On the back straight at Ascari with the motor on full noise, I experienced incredible forward thrust. Power delivery is instant, linear, and light years from the sudden and peaky kind of on/off arrival associated with turbocharged engines of yore.
Some equally powerful but heavier cars seem to pause while they inhale and fill their deep lungs before beginning their battle with inertia. Not the Noble. With plenty of torque and relatively modest mass to move, you can feel it accelerating the second you dip into the throttle.
The counterpoint to the M600’s ability to sling you up the road at warp speed is its docility and tractability. If you don’t wish to extract every last ounce of performance, you could actually drive it to the supermarket. The front luggage compartment can accommodate small cases or squashy bags for a weekend away, so you might just get a modest week’s groceries in there.
My simulated urban torture test consisted of lapping Ascari in fifth gear, only dropping to fourth for the hairpin. The car responded crisply and smoothly to throttle inputs at 1200 rpm, and really took off once the tach needle passed 2000 rpm.
Incidentally, there is a chicken switch on the console. While the full Monty delivers 650 hp, you can dial the output down in two stages, 550 hp and 450 hp, for bad weather or if a less experienced driver is behind the wheel. More than just increasing power, the middle and full power settings also sharpen throttle response, steepen the boost curve, and loosen up traction control so you can have maximum fun on-track.
Whichever setting you choose, there’s no escaping the deep, NASCAR-grade V8 rumble from the motor. This really turns heads when you accelerate away on full throttle. Its exhaust note does not just hint at big powerit clubs you over the head with it. The amount of cabin insulation means that while you get an earful of this intoxicating engine note when you work the motor hard, it recedes into the background on light throttle. Undertaking a long trip will not be a torture session. This is a legitimate GT in which you can cover a fair distance without fatigue.
The steering is power-assisted rack and pinion. Light steering can be dangerous at speed, and heavy steering is tiring over distance. Caster, camber, and rack location all have a bearing on the fingertips, so Noble put a lot of work into getting this aspect of the chassis just right. The result is a helm that allows you to translate your desired direction of travel to the front wheels instinctively. The nose turns in accurately on cue and the rest of the car follows through with no hint of bump steer or the nervousness that over-assistance can bring.
Eschewing the ultra-light but very expensive all-carbon tub of higher volume specialist supercars, the M600 is built around a stainless steel and aluminum tub with an integral safety cell and front and rear crash structures. The tub has deep sills with a high H-point for side impact protection, and together with the figure-hugging lightweight seats, positions occupants further from a side impact than in a normal family car.