Last time we saw McLaren in action on the road, it had joined forces with Mercedes-Benz, with the two giving the world the brilliant, but limited volume SLR. The companies have parted ways, with Mercedes driving down a more emotional road and giving us the SLS AMG - not the fastest supercar on sale, but definitely one of the most delightful to drive.
McLaren on the other hand has stuck to its all-performance, racing-derived philosophy and has now returned to the market with the MP4-12C. This time the British company wanted to actually sell cars, so it didn’t just create one - it also built a production facility, upgraded it and established a worldwide dealer network.
So the determination is here. The technical expertise is also here, brought straight from the F1 laboratories. Then again, McLaren has always possessed this asset, but now they’ve used in a way that would make the car available to a broader audience. For example, the MP4-12C is the first model in the mainstream supercar segment to offer a carbon fiber construction.
In fact, the technical innovations of the McLaren MP4-12C make up the best part of the car. The British model does away with conventional solutions and has its way when it comes to generating g forces.
McLaren has managed to adapt as much as possible of an F1 car for the road and place it within the confinements of a $241,800 MSRP, which is quite an achievement. We have to remind you that there’s also a destination charge of $2,400 and that the European pricing sits at EUR200,000 (including 19 percent VAT).
And the champagne brought by the aforementioned title has to be shared with the performance. This McLaren comes with a power-to-weight ratio that makes it disappear into the horizon when the driver wishes for this to happen. Straight lines or bends, the MP4-12C devours the tarmac at an astonishing pace.
Alas, the F1-style hardware incorporated into this McLaren means that if you really want to push it to the limit, you’ll have to adapt to the car’s handling ways, not the other way around.
And while this is an aspect that you can live with, the same can’t be said about the MP4-12C’s greatest problem, it’s clinical character. When you’re hammering this McLaren, it teleports you straight to insanity land and it literally spits fire
. Unfortunately, the moment your foot leaves the throttle, the magic fades away. In this respect (only), the McLaren MP4-12C feels similar to the Nissan GT-R
And then there’s the exhaust - this is a perfect example of tech genius, but it fails to impress on the emotional level and its volume even becomes disturbing at times.
What McLaren needs is somebody that can blow some magic emotional dust over its factory. Yes, it can outperform its target, the Ferrari 458
, but only on paper. Until the Woking building will also employ a wand, the MP4-12C has no chance of being a better car than the 458.
This McLaren is a brilliant piece of engineering, also being easy to drive, but since it misses the melodramatic part of the supercar concept, it’s still not targeting a full-size audience.Continue reading