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8th January 2010, 10:11 AM
noble’s noble-beater

in 1999, lee noble (http://www.topgear.com/uk/tags/noble) established noble automotive, the leicestershire-based car company that last year created the awesome m600 (http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/noble-m600-2009-08-19).

But lee noble isn't in charge of noble any more: In fact, the m600 was built without him. Lee noble is now in charge of a new company: fenix supercars (http://www.topgear.com/uk/tags/fenix-supercars).

And this is fenix supercars' first offering, confidently predicted to go on sale in the uk late this year. We don't know what it'll be called, but we know it'll be fast.
see more pics of the new fenix (http://www.topgear.com/uk/photos/noble-fenix)
it'll be offered with the choice of two engines: A gm-sourced ‘ls3' v8 putting out 480bhp, or the psychotic 6.2-litre supercharged v8 from the corvette zr1 (http://www.topgear.com/uk/tags/corvette-zr1), developing a scary 638bhp. Noble says the supercharged car should hit 100mph in under seven seconds, and top out over 200mph.

Quick enough, especially with a kerbweight estimated at 1,200kg (in comparison, the m600 weighs 1,250kg and musters 650bhp). And, though it's difficult tell much from these shady shots (http://www.topgear.com/uk/photos/noble-fenix), it shouldn't be a minger either.

"the new car's styling owes nothing to what i've done before and has quite literally been a ‘clean sheet' exercise from the start," says lee noble. "it's edgy, with powerful lines, and aerodynamically will be in another league to any of my previous cars."

even so, getting the car into production before the end of 2010 remains a big ask.

"our first prototype is now in build and development will start in one month's time," says lee. "we'll be hot-weather testing the first protype on the mountain roads around port elizabeth, south africa, where the car will be manufactured. But i'm itching the get the car back to the uk where i can set it up on roads i know well..."

we'll keep a close eye on the fenix over the next few months. Roll on the m600 twin test...
sam philip

8th January 2010, 10:19 AM
new meriva: Unhinged

prepare for a shock. A small shock, admittedly, but a shock nonetheless.

This is the new vauxhall meriva (http://www.topgear.com/uk/tags/vauxhall-meriva). Not a 'concept previewing the new vauxhall (http://www.topgear.com/uk/tags/vauxhall) meriva', but the real, production vauxhall meriva. And it has suicide doors!

Actually, vauxhall doesn't call them suicide doors. They're flexdoors, apparently, which "allow unimpeded forward access/egress to and from the cabin". That's marketing-speak for ‘make it easier to get in and out of the back'.

We are unashamed suckers for a good suicide door - even on a sensible five-seat family car - so the meriva is off to a good start. And it should be a tidy all-round specimen when it goes on sale later this year after its debut at the geneva show (http://www.topgear.com/uk/tags/geneva-motor-show-2010) in march.

For a start, it looks good, adopting bits of astra (http://www.topgear.com/uk/vauxhall/astra/road-test/1.4-turbo-se)/insignia (http://www.topgear.com/uk/vauxhall/insignia) design language - check out that ‘sideblade' running down from the front wheel arch - and adding a natty new kink in the window line, which helps to improve visibility from the rear seats but mainly looks rather good.

With a wider track and longer wheelbase than the outgoing meriva (http://www.topgear.com/uk/vauxhall/meriva/), it should drive better than the old car. It'll be launched with a range of six turbo engines borrowed from the astra, ranging from 74bhp to 138bhp. Strangely, there's no word on a vxr version yet.

We'll get our first look at the new meriva in geneva (poets, know it, etc.) this march.