Fueled by what McLaren has learned on the Formula One circuit, the MP4-12C was the fourth road car to carry the McLaren name–behind the one-off M6 GT in 1968. Next was the infamous million-dollar F1 supercar in 1998, and the Mercedes-Benz built SLR in the early 2000s.The 12C was their first car to be designed and built entirely in-house. It led a three-model range when McLaren Automotive ventured out with its own line of exotic offerings to attract buyers from Lamborghini and Ferrari.
The British car company hopes to sway interest from the Italians with its own notoriety and with performance numbers that will surpass that of its competitors. To accomplish the second part, McLaren started with an extremely lightweight and incredibly strong carbon tub that wraps around and protects the passengers. The McLaren-built V-8 engine utilizes a pair of turbochargers to lay down more power than its F1 rival’s 458 Italia. McLaren says the MP4-12C can accelerate zero-to-60 mph in less than three seconds and on to 124 mph in less than 10 seconds. These impressive numbers have sent shivers across the industry. A fast-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch transmission transfers that horsepower to the rear wheels. A Proactive Chassis Control system allows the owner to dial-in suspension tuning to one of three settings: Normal, Sport, and Track.
A McLaren-developed Brake Steer function decelerates certain wheels—like the inside rear wheel in corners—to help reduce understeer and increase the car’s overall handling prowess. To give you an idea of how well all these technologies work together, the MP4-12C currently holds the second best lap time on the Top Gear test track. This puts it ahead of the best from Ferrari and Lamborghini and even the Veyron SS. It only lags behind the Ariel Atom V-8, which is more track toy than the production car. In all, the new 12C has the name, styling, and specs to put fear in the hearts of some well-known Italian brands by selling well. That’s good because McLaren set a lofty goal to sell 1,000 cars annually as it rapidly establishes a dealer network.
LIST PRICE: $231,400 (estimated)
ENGINE: 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-8
HORSEPOWER: 592 hp @ 7,000 rpm
TORQUE: 442 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed DCT
0–60: Less than three seconds
TOP SPEED: 200 mph (estimated)