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650-horsepower Noble M600 ‘Speedster’ drops its top at Autosport International

England’s Noble M600 may not have the name recognition or jaw-dropping sex appeal of its Italian counterparts, but it’s got it where it counts.

The Ferrari-fighting Noble features a Yamaha-derived 4.4-liter V8, a version of which appeared in the first-generation Volvo XC90. Under the hood of the British supercar, however, it wears twin Garrett turbos and produces up to 650 horsepower depending on the position of the ‘Road,’ ‘Track,’ and ‘Race’ setting.

Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson once described the M600 as “mind-blowingly fast.” Despite being five years old, the car still sits near the top of the program’s lap time board, besting the Nissan GT-R and Pagani Zonda Roadster F with a cold time of 01:17.7.

In August, we reported that Noble was considering a ‘Drophead’ version of the M600. You probably won’t see the convertible on the road this year, but the U.K. manufacturer has developed a prototype.

The open-top M600, now dubbed the Speedster, was displayed at Birmingham’s Autosport International motorsport show on January 8th. According to Autocar, the vehicle is a “research-building exercise.”

The  Speedster is the first Noble ever to feature a six-speed semi-automatic transmission, but it’s not the dual-clutch type you’ll find in a Lambo or Porsche. For this car, brand Managing Director Peter Boutwood decided to stay with a single-clutch unit “to keep the raw feel that is associated with Noble cars.” Until now, the automaker used manual transmissions exclusively.

“People still love manual-shifting cars,” he said, “but we have to keep up with other markets while keeping that gutsy, visceral sensation with the car, similar to the Ferrari 430 Scuderia.”

Like Daniel Craig’s James Bond, the M600 is a blunt instrument, with a stainless steel body, bruising power, brakes sans ABS or measurable servo assist, a low amount of driver aids, and homespun looks compared to the competition.

However, because of its low weight and brutal powertrain, the Noble’s 0 to 60 mph time of 3.0 seconds is right up there with the hybrid hypercars of today. You can probably add a tick or so with the added weight of the convertible layout, but Boutwood says it will still be able to compete on the big stage.

“If it makes production, our aim is for it to be one of the fastest cabriolets in the world.”

(Images via Autocar)