Mass times velocity Designed for the track, there's nothing subtle about the Noble's shape or the huge wing on the rear deck. By Josh Jacquot, Senior Road Test Editor Date posted: 05-09-2007 425-hp turbocharged V6 - 2,484-pound curb weight -Six-speed transaxle with limited-slip differential With 425 horsepower motivating only 2,484 pounds and enough mechanical grip to embarrass most supercars, the 2007 Noble M400 has laid waste to the record books at Inside Line like the Terminator tearing through a cop-filled doughnut shop. Our testing equipment has definitely had a hard lesson in Newtonian physics. The Noble hit 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds, then streaked through the quarter-mile in 11.4 seconds at almost 120 mph. This makes it the quickest car we've ever tested, leaving behind the Corvette Z06, Ford GT and Porsche 911 Turbo. The M400 also slices through the slalom at 79.4 mph, nearly 4 mph faster than the previous record-holder, the poised Porsche 911 GT3]. The Noble also rips up the skid pad at 1.05g, breaking another standard previously set by the 911 GT3. The 2007 Noble M400 is a midengine racer with a twin-turbo V6 engine and it looks as raw as its record-busting performance numbers. Yet we've found out that this British-designed kit car can make it on the street as a daily driver. And that's what makes its performance even more stunning. What Makes It Fast Lots of ground clearance make street driving practical, although there's plenty of engine noise to endure. Lee Noble has been designing cars for the racetrack in his little English shop in Barwell, Leicestershire, since 1999, and the M400 started out as a purebred device that amateurs could drive at track days, a real racecar for the street. The midengine M400 is the fourth iteration of Noble's original design, and it has now evolved into a surprisingly useful street car as well. In the United States, the M400 is classified as a kit car because its chassis, engine and transmission are sold separately. The rolling chassis is actually built in South Africa, and 1g Racing in Hamilton, Ohio, sells it for $72,500. The basic 3.0-liter Ford Duratec V6 is assembled by AER Manufacturing in Carrollton, Texas, and lists for $4,400. Snakebite Performance, 1g Racing's parts division in Ross, Ohio, sells the transaxle and all the ancillary turbocharging hardware for $17,700. A professional installer can put the Noble M400 on the road in about 30 hours at a cost between $3,500 and $4,000. Add it all up and you're looking at close to $100,000 for a kit car. Fortunately you get all the right stuff. A tubular steel space frame offers structural rigidity while a lightweight, double-wishbone suspension at every corner optimizes handling, and a fiberglass body has been shaped for pure performance. Motivation comes from a seemingly harmless 3.0-liter Ford Duratec V6 that has been transformed by two Garrett GT25R turbochargers calibrated by Roush Racing. The turbos deliver 12.5 psi of boost with minimal lag, enough to make 425 hp and an equally impressive 390 lb-ft of torque. Since the Duratec V6 is a fixture in the British-built Ford Mondeo, it's no surprise that the Mondeo's six-speed Getrag gearbox is also in play. Snakebite Performance adds the Quaife gear-type limited-slip differential. A $100,000 Kit Car? The midengine M400 has wide rear tires to support 60 percent of its 2,484 pounds. It's worth it. The Porsche 911 GT3 is the Noble M400's closest competition in terms of performance, and a stripped-down GT3 will cost you $106,795. And unlike a Porsche 911 GT3, the Noble M400 is comfortable and easy to drive in ways that no hot-rod Porsche can match. There's lots of wheel travel with a taut yet resilient ride. In fact, the M400 makes a Lotus Elise or Exige S seem downright miserable by comparison. And the Noble handles better. As you'd expect, access to the cockpit is challenging, though not as difficult as in the Lotus Elise. You're sitting on the floor in a functional bin lined with artificial suede, and there's a roll cage a few inches from your skull. Yet the view through the windshield is reassuringly panoramic, and there's room for tall drivers, although the vestigial, Brit-style dead pedal is barely adequate. As you'd expect in a track car, there are usefully functional oil temperature, oil pressure and coolant temperature gauges. All the switchgear, including the HVAC controls, comes from the Mondeo sedan and it works well. The Noble Experience Simplicity at its best: The M400 is light, powerful and gorgeously functional. The Noble weighs 2,484 pounds, some 432 pounds more than a Lotus Exige S. Yet the M400 makes that dead weight seem to disappear, with 225 horsepower more than the Lotus can deliver. The Noble also has a simple mechanical throttle linkage instead of a fly-by-wire electronic throttle, so every input made by your foot is communicated directly to the tires without any electrons reinterpreting the message. But while the Noble M400 has been stripped to a core of performance hardware, this car is hugely capable without feeling coarse. The steering response is quick, yet the car never feels nervous at speed, and the steering effort is weighty enough to be reassuring at maximum attack while still manageable in a parking lot. It's easy to modulate the engagement of the short-throw clutch — easier, in fact, than our long-term Infiniti G35 Sport. The transmission has the notchy gear engagement at low speeds that's typical of Getrag, but once you're driving in circumstances where the throttle openings are wide, it all comes together with remarkable ease. Maximum Attack It might still look like a Ford engine, but the 425-hp punch will make you forget it's a Duratec V6. The Noble wears 225/40R18 Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires in front and wide 265/35R18s in the rear, the same R-compound rubber with which the Lamborghini Gallardo is equipped. They afford so much stick for this lightweight car that it takes you some time to calibrate your senses to the incredibly high cornering limits. Once you mash the throttle coming out of a low-speed corner, the Noble's tail will step out. But it's easy to manage with a simple twist of countersteer, and an upshift keeps the acceleration coming as if you were riding a huge wave. When you enter a corner, the front tires communicate in high resolution exactly how much grip is available for braking and how much turning, and the car balances itself almost intuitively. It is immediately clear that the Noble is in its element when driven hard. It's light, so the engine never strains and the oil and coolant temperatures stay in check regardless of how hot the weather might be. Plus, the lack of mass helps to keep the brakes from cooking. Even at an unbelievable pace, the car never makes you feel it's being abused. With plenty of suspension travel to absorb huge midcorner bumps with ease, the Noble is also able to flash its speed on rolling country roads as well as smooth tarmac, unlike almost any other supercar you can name. The Noble M400 has a keen balance that's actually more impressive than its ridiculous acceleration and outstanding handling. It operates on a level that's refreshingly honest, even basic. There are no extra buttons to push, no stability control to disable — no electronic nonsense to intrude into the magical link between driver and car. It's as if Sir Isaac Newton himself had a seat on the engineering committee and then rides shotgun during every drive. It's that good. The Rest of the Story Suedelike upholstery covers most of the interior surfaces, so it doesn't seem like just a kit car. But the M400 is not perfect. There are still a few too many zip ties in the engine bay for us to say it's exactly as refined as most production cars. Just recently 1g Racing bought the rights to the design and will begin badging the car as its own on July 15, and the company plans to increase the niceness quotient. But none of this matters if you're a true driving enthusiast. The driving dorks will understand that the 2007 Noble M400 in all its plastic-bodied, overpowered glory puts them in a very exclusive club. Sir Isaac would be proud. What Works: Mind-bending acceleration, Velcro-like grip, confident balance, best ride/handling compromise of any supercar we've tested. What Needs Work: Hard-to-be-smooth shifter, no redline on tachometer, leaf-blower-in-a-shed cockpit racket. Bottom Line: The M400 combines blinding speed with superb handling at a level usually reserved for cars costing twice as much. Second Opinion Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds says: I wasn't prepared for the raw speed of the Noble M400. While it doesn't carry the pedigree of a Porsche 911 GT3, Porsche Turbo or a Lotus Exige S, it hauls butt better than any of them. Sticks better, too. Cheaper than the Porsches and loads easier to get in and out of than any Exige, this is a high-performance mega-bargain. Some might scoff at our test car's power plant, essentially a twin-turbo Ford Escape V6. But I can overlook anything in return for 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds. And I don't care about the Hyundai Sonata taillights, either. From the driver seat you can't see them anyway. But for all its speed, I'd never feel comfortable driving the Noble M400 in anything other than closed-course competition events while wearing a helmet. Because this car isn't built to modern crash test standards. There are no airbags, no side-impact beams. The well-shaped, supportive race seats have headrests that are canted back to be compatible with a helmeted head, but they're too far back to be of much use in a rear-end accident unless you are wearing a helmet. And the cockpit pillars and top members essentially constitute an exposed steel roll cage with a thin veneer of mouse fur. While this is doubtlessly great for the track, it seems a blunt-force hazard for a non-helmeted noggin in a fender-bender. The Noble M400 is an impressive machine, seemingly ready-made for top-time-of-the-day at your local track day. But if my supercar ever got into a tangle with an SUV and ended up on wreckedexotics.com, I'd want to be around to forward the link to all of my friends. Performance 0 - 30 (sec): 1.4 0 - 45 (sec): 2.3 0 - 60 (sec): 3.2 0 - 75 (sec): 4.6 1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 11.4 @ 119.8 30 - 0 (ft): 26 60 - 0 (ft): 109 Braking Rating (Excellent, Good, Average, Poor or Very Poor): Excellent Slalom (mph): 79.4 Skid Pad (g-force): 1.05 Handling Rating (Excellent, Good, Average, Poor or Very Poor): Excellent Db @ Idle: 65.4 Db @ Full Throttle: 89.3 Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 75 Acceleration: The Noble is easy to drive fast and not abusive to itself when doing so. Notchy shifter doesn't matter when grabbing gears for time. Brilliant boost response produces tons of midrange, easy-to-drive torque. No redline on tachometer. Braking: Intuitive, predictable pedal is perfect for non-ABS modulation. Handling: Plenty of grip means even modest effort produces blazing-fast slalom run. Very stable through transitions and not easily upset by midcorner bumps. Brilliant ride/handling compromise.