Fearsome: Noble M600 and Atom V8 at the Nurburgring - CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS

Uploaded by drive on 18.04.2012


On the whole, we English are a civilized bunch.
We like bird song.
And we like flora.
We drive Jaguars.
And we absolutely love old Land Rovers.
We play that strange game of cricket.
And we have quaint painted telephone boxes.

So why is it we make the most extreme
sports cars on the planet?
And here are two of them.
Aren't they just perfect?
First up, the Ariel Atom V8--
475 horsepower, 580 kilograms with a rally Super 2000
gearbox in it.
150,000 of your English pounds to do 0 to 100 miles an hour
in under 5 seconds.
It's just loopy.
On the other hand, we have the Noble M600--
650 horsepower, 1,200 kilograms, 228,000 pounds-- a
genuine 200-mile supercar.
Now, where do you come to drive these two cars?
Do you drive them in the UK?
No, you don't.
You take them to Germany.
You take them to the Nurburgring.
Neither of these cars has ever been to the
Nordschleife before.
In fact, neither of them is suited to the place.
But it only seems right to bring the two most intense
British sports cars to the best circuit on the planet.
This isn't a tiny exercise either.
The actual event is a destination Nurburgring track
day, and timing is strictly forbidden.
And neither of the cars is set up to the ultimate time around
here, anyway.
The Noble has street tires and no downforce.
And the Atom's spring rate is for a flat
British sprint track.
But I just wanted to bring them here to see
what they were like.
And also, so other people could see what they are like.
Think of it as a British freak show on an overseas mission.


I don't think this car would ever actually--

The Ariel Atom is the most unlikely of supercars.
It only became one when the company decided to throw its
own 3-liter V8 into the back of one of its iconic little
sports cars.
The engine is effectively two Suzuki Hayabusa motors
conjoined, feeding 475 horsepower into a SADEV
sequential gearbox.
It revs at 10,600 RPM, at which point, the driver's
bladder becomes porous.
The three-way adjustable Intrax suspension is standard.
But the car needs a softer spring rate to really work
around the Nurburgring, and a set of more functional wings
because these ones are more for looks than downforce.
But then the Atom V8 isn't a Radical nor a Caterham rival.
It's not a lap-time junkie.
It's a hot rod--
a car to see, and to be seen in, and to scare yourself
utterly witless in.
Like I said, from 0 to 120 miles an hour, you just can't
quite believe what's going on.
And frankly, I wasn't man enough to push any harder,
given how bumpy the circuit is.
But none of that matters to me.
The Atom V8 is the coolest car ever made in Somerset.
And it makes me proud to drink cider.
The Noble, on the other hand, makes me
proud to eat pork pies.
The home of the pork pie, rural Leicestershire, is an
unlikely place to build a car that will pull an indicated
200 miles an hour.
That's a real 190 on the main straight of the Nurburgring.
But then its twin turbo Yamaha V8 packs such a monster punch.
And the carbon body panels on this car tip the weight at
1,200 kilograms.
With the engine on its most powerful 650 horsepower map,
it eats GT2's in a straight line.
You could easily see how this car would knock huge chunks of
tire around the ring, too.
Some wings for downforce in the fast turns and sticky
tires alone would save 30 seconds.
But again, the M600 isn't about lap times.
It's about owning the car that most cleanly duplicates the
character of the Ferrari F40 than
anything I've ever driven.
Anyone looking to buy a McLaren MP4-12C or a Ferrari
458, who loves driving, needs to try one of these cars.

Well, it's difficult to talk when you're going quick.
Off the Flugplatz, short shift into sixth then flat
out down the hill.
What a machine!
Indicated 170 before Schwedenkreuz take fifth gear.
Well, what a famous corner and what a place not to fall off--
third gear for Aremberg.
This car feels classically mid-engined.
It's got good traction, but all that power is very easily
overcome so I have to bleed the throttle in.
Down the Fuchsrohre, have I got the berries to be
flat out down here?
Nothing like.
It's a streetcar this, on street tires.
And it does just run out of travel.
You can hear the odd scrape and graunch.
That's it, just running out.

In conventional terms, it's got a massive amount of
Once you come out here--
Adenauer Forst-- third, fourth, fifth.
I've never driven a car that comes out of there like that.
That's just nuts.
It's got massive performance and is very nicely balanced.
But what happens when you do get up and then discover what
its limits are?
Well, ultimately it just loses a bit of front-axle grips or
There you go.
There's the understeer there.
It's steady.
And it's not too bad.
But my god, you can neutralize that understeer whenever you
bloody want to.
You really can.
That's when you got to be careful because they're the
sort of-- the neutral window is tiny.
And sometimes, around here certainly, you want to kind of
just keep the car in part throttle.
That's difficult when you've got the massive turbochargers.
Look at the torque here, though.
Wehrseifen, slowest corner on the circuit--
I'll just stay in the third.
I still feel like I can't use everything coming out.
Down to Breidscheid.
Feels like you're in the Millennium sodding Falcon.
It's just outrageous.
Brakes are good, no servo.
Wait a minute now.
There is a servo.
So there is some assistance, but no ABS.
Once you come out here--
Ex-Muhle really.
Oh, just as I wiggle it, there's so much
power up the hill.
The breadth of it's very firm.
I'd given it a little bit of a workout earlier today, so the
pedal has gone a little bit longer, but they're with you.
Where they do come slightly unstuck around here is that
it's on the bumpy braking zones you can
do with an ABS system.
But, I'm carping.
And it's this car's supple ride and long-travel
suspension that makes it so good around here.
It's a bumpy place.
And it's really riding these bumps well.
It's also--
perversely-- what slightly compromises it when you really
get it going.
So at 9/10, you just feel that you run out a bit of travel.
And it's a bit soft.
Watch it haul up this straight, though--
140, 150--
a bloody bump here, which is vicious in the Kesselchen.
But there we go.
We can squiggle through there.

It's madness.
I've never driven a car with so much straight-line
performance around here-- absolute madness.

At the Karussell.
God, I hate the Karussell.
Open it up in third.
Gear shift is lovely.
You can either be quick with the paddle shift, but it's
such a nice manual gearbox in this car.
I called this thing a modern-day F40 when I
drove it last year.
And I back that up.
I think for once I got it right.
Up into this technical section--
Hohe Acht, Wippermann.
It changes direction nicely.
It's only 1,200 kilograms.
But that neutral window is narrower.
If anything now-- and you do suspect that the rear axle
might just come around and overtake you.
But what I'm thinking- it just kisses the ground there,
doesn't it?
Hear those?
Michelins are getting some pain.
Oh, what a circuit!
What a car!
It's got number plates, this thing.
I think Derek Bell was talking to Peter Boutwood recently.
And he said, have you driven one of these?
But you know what?
I could have just turned up to Le Mans in the Group C days in
one of these, unpack my luggage, join the race, win
it, and go on home.
It is that quick.

But you know what?
It's a fitting place to test the car, this, because we're
giving it a proper workout here.
Short shift down through here.
In places, you just have to hold your nerve because it's
so much faster than any race car I've ever driven.
A little jump there, now this lovely flowing fast section
through here.

Look at that.
It just runs away like a ribbon, doesn't it?
The performance--
just squeeze it in fifth gear.
And it just goes up and the needle's up around 140.
Oh, this new section's a bit pansy, though.
There is a new tarmac here.
Can't actually get any grip, and we're right onto the curb.
Third gear and far into the mini Karussell--

and now, the Noble does its thing.
So we'll go through Galgenkopf in fourth gear.
186 pull, then pull back in again.
On to the straight-- fourth gear, 5,000 revs.
And this is when it--
the world goes nuts.
Fifth gear--
indicated 165, 170, 180, 190, 190, indicated 200 miles an
hour, 205 indicated.
I'm actually having to slow down bit for the kink because
it's so fast.
We'll go through the kink at 160.
That's enough for me today, thanks.
Good Lord, in a street car--
British sports cars, I effing well salute you.
This is just awesome, this thing.

And that was the lap in the Nordschleife
in the Noble M600.
I'm just going to go and have a quiet moment to myself.
What a car.

What I love about these cars is that they don't conform to
the conventional stereotypes.
So what if the GT3 is better all-around package?
I mean, who cares?
These two are outcasts.
They are the weirdo at the wedding dressed in wacky
clothes that everyone laughs at in the church service.
But later on, on the dance floor, pulls sharper moves
than Justin Timberlake and bangs the hottest girl.
They take recreational motoring to the edge of sanity
and quite frequently step beyond that point.
They are why we love cars.