McLaren MP4-12C rules the street

The McLaren MP4-12LC with Le Mans, F1, Can Am and Indianapolis cars (Photo Courtesy McLaren)

Luxury, power and performance are what you expect in a high performance, luxury sports car.  You might not expect comfort, excellent drivability, outstanding safety features and economy.

The new McLaren MP4-12C delivers all of the above.

Now making its North American debut, the MP4-12C has a double heritage.  Much of the engineering harks back to McLaren’s longtime involvement in Formula 1 racing, while its road manners are a direct link to the still potent 1993 McLaren FI.

Powered by a McLaren-designed twin-turbocharged, 3.8 liter V8, that is lighter, smaller, more efficient and more economical than many similar power units found in compatible cars.  It delivers 600-plus horsepower and revs up to 8,500 rpm, with 80 percent of the torque available at below 2,000 rpm.  Surprisingly, the engine emissions and gas mileage are comparable to a luxury sedans.  It has a seven-speed, duel wet clutch transmission.  No clutch pedal on the floor, all shifting is done using racing-evolved paddles mounted on the steering wheel, not on the steering column. This was done so the driver has total control even in turns.

The suspension is based on double wishbones with coil springs. Hydraulics operate the shocks and the adjustable roll control, doing away with sway bars.  A touch of a button gives the driver a more sporty suspension or a smooth highway ride.  Brakes are racing-designed discs. The car has an impressive 3.6 power-to-weight ratio

A crowning point of the MP4-12C. is the chassis.

McLaren’s racing prowess had much to do with the design of the one-piece Carbon MonoCell that not only provides excellent protection for the occupants, yet allows greater freedom for interior design.  The racing-style seats move forward and back and the steering column telescopes and tilts up and down.  Both short and tall drivers can find optimum seating for comfortable driving.  Dihedral (swing up and forward) doors ease entrance and exit. Aluminum sub frames are mounted front and rear.  A trio of 35 mph federal crash tests have already been done, leaving both the MonoCell and windshield intact.

The body is aerodynamic with no added appendages. A pneumatic air brake is automatically actuated on the rear deck during heavy braking.


McLaren Automobiles will be producing 1,000 MP4-12C in the coming year, with about one-third coming to the U.S.  The price tag on this rocket is approximately $231,400 (including destination charges) and is in the ball park of similar coupes and lower than a number of others. 

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Volume 2011, Issue 2, Posted 9:51 PM, 03.01.2011