Noble M12 GTO 3R (2003)
Noble M12 GTO 3R
In 2000, the Noble M12 GTO threatened to turn the established supercar market on its head. With its mix of scorching performance, race-bred dynamics and immaculate build quality, the Noble could be bought for a fraction of the cost of most of its rivals, but gave away nothing to them on the road and track. The press raved about it and demand rapidly grew as buyers saw this British-designed car as a credible alternative to cars costing more than twice the price.
The original Noble M12 GTO was fitted with a 2.5-litre V6 engine using twin turbochargers and produced 310bhp (314PS) - enough for it to accelerate from 0-60mph (0-97kph) in 3.9 seconds and 100mph (160kph) in 9.4 seconds (figures from Autocar magazine). As if this wasn't fast enough, at the start of 2003, Noble upped power further by replacing the 2.5-litre unit with a 3.0-litre V6 engine, again with twin turbochargers, but this time producing 352bhp (357PS).
There are currently two models in the range: the M12 GTO-3 and the M12 GTO-3R. Both cars use the same engines and underpinnings, but there are significant differences in styling, refinement and transmissions. The M12 GTO-3 is the entry model in the range, with a list price of £47,950. As with the GTO-3R, it has a GRP composite body over a spaceframe chassis offering impressive levels of structural and torsional rigidity. Inside, the cabin is spacious enough to accommodate people over six-foot tall and has excellent ergonomics, adjustable seats and steering column, a fully trimmed safety roll cage and Alcantara trim as standard.
At a list price of £49,950 the M12 GTO-3R is visually identifiable from the GTO-3 by its faired-in twin bi-xenon headlights and Noble-designed ten-spoke alloy wheels. Inside, the 3R has extra noise insulation and full leather trim as standard. But what really sets the 3R apart from the 3, is its all-new Getrag-Ford six-speed gearbox and Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing differential, enhancing its appeal as both a relaxed, high-speed GT and an accomplished track day weapon.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
The 2968cc, twin-turbocharged V6 used in both Noble models is transversely mounted in front of the rear axle, directly behind the cabin. It features four valves per cylinder and double overhead cams to each bank of cylinders. The all-alloy engine is heavily modified from standard, with many bespoke components fitted during build. It produces 352bhp (357PS) at 6200rpm, and is redlined at 7200rpm.
On the road, 350lb ft (475Nm) of torque produced between 3500 and 5000rpm makes the car immensely flexible and easy to drive. Even at 3000rpm, the engine is producing 80 per cent of its available torque. There's also very little lag from the twin Garret T25, water-cooled turbochargers, meaning a particularly linear response throughout the rev-range. The turbochargers run a maximum 0.7 bar of boost and are equipped with an air to air intercooler, centrally mounted at the rear of the car.
A completely new design of exhaust for the 3.0-litre engine gives you the choice of enjoying the sporty engine note under hard acceleration, or savouring the V6's inherent refinement at cruising speeds.
The all-new Getrag-Ford six-speed manual gearbox, standard on GTO-3R models, has closer intermediate ratios than the GTO-3's five-speed gearbox, but has an even more relaxed top gear than before, running 26.5mph per 1000rpm. This means that at 70mph the engine is turning over at a mere 2650rpm.
Also standard with the GTO-3R's six-speed gearbox is a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing differential. This unique, patented unit shares the basic characteristics of a conventional limited slip differential, which prevents loss of drive when one wheel starts to slip. However, the ATB differential has the advantage of gears, rather than plates, which can wear or break, and therefore servicing is reduced and reliability improved. The ATB also eliminates much of the understeer that is inherent in conventional LSDs, by transferring more torque to the driven wheel that needs it most, rather than it being split equally between both wheels; this prevents the rear wheels trying to push the front wheels wide when cornering.
CHASSIS, SUSPENSION & STEERING
Both M12 models use bodies made from GRP, under which lies an all steel space frame with bonded and riveted alloy panels; the total weight for the GTO-3 is extremely light, with a kerbweight of just 1050kgs, while the GTO-3R adds an extra 30kgs, due to better soundproofing. Continuing the race-bred theme is double wishbone suspension all round, with alloy uprights and Bilstein shock absorbers.
A key element of the Noble M12's success has been its ability to combine fine on-road dynamics with safe and predictable handling on a race circuit. A hydraulically power assisted steering rack, with 2.6 turns from lock to lock is quick enough to make fast-road or track driving rewarding, yet comfortable enough when small corrections are needed on the motorway. The M12 also has a very supple ride over a wide range of surfaces, meaning that it's an entirely practical proposition for everyday use. Yet incredibly, it can be driven on a race circuit with hardly a trace of body-roll, and remains composed and controllable at very high speeds.
Servo assisted, four-piston calliper brakes with ventilated discs (330mm diameter front, 326mm diameter rear) are fitted all round and both cars wear 225/40 ZR 18 tyres at the front and 265/35 ZR 18s at the back.
INTERIOR & EQUIPMENT
Both the GTO-3 and the GTO-3R come as standard with a fully trimmed safety roll cage, race harnesses (in addition to inertia reel belts), a leather Momo steering wheel and adjustable seats and steering column. The 3R adds a full leather interior, a Sony CD/tuner with column mounted remote control, an engine start button and fitted leather map pockets.
For a full list of equipment and options, please see the accompanying Noble brochure.
There are few cars in the world that accelerate as quickly as the Noble M12 GTO-3 and the Noble M12 GTO-3R. Not only do they both have massive traction off the line, thanks to their mid-engine design, but they also have potent levels of torque from low down in the engine's rev-range. This means that there is practically no 'lag' before the turbochargers start working, making the Noble a particularly effortless and easy car to drive fast.
Auto Express magazine tested the Noble GTO-3R and achieved the following set of acceleration figures using Racelogic satellite-driven timing equipment at a private test facility.
0-60mph (0-97kmh) 3.7 seconds
0-100mph (0-160kmh) 8.8 seconds
30-70mph (48-113kmh) through gears 3.2 seconds
30-50mph (48-80kmh) in third gear 2.0 seconds
40-60mph (64-97kmh) in fourth gear 2.5 seconds
50-70mph (80-113kmh) in fifth/sixth gears 3.5/6.1 seconds
Top speed 170mph
Braking from 60mph (97kmh) 38.2 metres