McLaren MP4-12C finally revealed
McLaren MP4-12C finally revealed
The big news from the summer of 2007 and the subsequent rumor mill of McLaren's upcoming top secret P11 sportscar has finally culminated into a masterpiece-the MP4-12C.We take a closer look at this much awaited blue-blooded McLaren sportscar.
Ask any real petrolhead what the most definitive supercar of twentieth century is, and more likely than not, you'll hear the name of the McLaren F1. Conceived and designed by one man, auto-genius Gordon Murray, the McLaren F1 was the fastest road car ever produced when it was launched way back in 1993-a record which it held for 11 years. Built on the basis of Murray's vision and McLaren's Formula-1 expertise, the F1 was way ahead of its time, and even today easily gives modern supercars a good run for their money. Okay, enough history. For the last many months now, the internet has been abuzz with rumors and spy pics of a camouflage-shod new sports car from the McLaren stables codenamed the P11. Finally the covers are off and the MP4-12C has been revealed to the world in its full glory.
This two-seater mid-engine rear-wheel drive sports car is not meant to take on hypercar heavy-weights such as the Bugatti Veyron, but firmly steps into a territory that McLaren calls the 'core sports car market'-a place that is populated by extremely competent machines such as the Lamborghini Gallardo and Ferrari V8s. But the new McLaren is a serious sportscar and has some obviously serious pedigree on its side to be reckoned with. While Murray was notably absent from the design of the MP4-12C, it seems to draw a lot from the venerable F1 including extensive use of carbonfibre for the entire superstructure to keep the weight low. At the heart of the MP4-12C is a revolutionary carbon fibre chassis called the Carbon MonoCell and represents the first time any car has ever featured a one-piece structure made from this exotic material. And the central tub weighs a mere 80kg. But McLaren's weight saving mantra doesn't just end here. Surprisingly, even the ventilated steel brakes and forged aluminium hubs weigh less than ceramic units and end up saving some 8kg in the car's kerb weight.
Design & Performance
While the MP4-12C is a beautiful car no matter where you look from, the overall design is rather simple and elegant, and seems like a wonderful blend of function and aesthetics. This is an era of gorgeous posteriors as we've already seen with the recently unveiled Ferrari 458 Italia, and the MP4-12C is no exception. Dictated is it might be by the V8 engine's cooling needs, the design of the rear features some really good looking bits such as high dual exhausts which fit flush with vents that extract hot air from the engine bay, rear brake lamps that are smartly hidden in the two top horizontal bars and an air brake that is cleverly triggered by passing air flow rather than any heavy mechanicals. And who can miss those iconic dihedral doors, another McLaren trademark that started with the F1 and was also featured on the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
Powering the MP4-12C is McLaren's own amidships mounted 3.8-litre V8 engine called the M838T which revs up to a heady 8,500rpm and features twin-turbochargers for that extra oomph. With around 600bhp and 600Nm of torque on tap and an estimated weight of about 1.3-tonnes, 100km/h should come up in three and a bit seconds and the car shouldn't have any problem cracking the 300km/h mark. This new McLaren also breaks away from the traditional over-abundance of electronic skullduggery to keep the car in check when driving spiritedly. While it does feature something called Brake Steer that keeps a check on understeer by braking the inside rear wheel while going around a corner, there is surprising little else. Most of the grip comes from good-old aerodynamics aids that are cleverly designed into the bodywork so as to do away with eyesores like spoilers and air dams. But our favourite bit has to be the new dual-clutch Seamless Shift Gearbox (SSG) which comes with something called as Pre-Cog. This system, rather than guessing which gear the driver will pick next like most current dual-clutch 'boxes', relies on a half pull on the paddle to warn the car just like an autofocus camera. The desired ratio is then selected and the lever is pulled completely, the gearbox slams in the gear change almost instantly.
The 12C will go sale in 2011 and for the first year, production plans are limited to just 1000 units. But it is likely that production will continue for at least a few more years after that as the 12C sits in a very lucrative sportscar segment that has seen dramatic growth in the last decade or so. And though it is still a couple of years away from hitting the streets, we already feel jealous of future owners who would become the lucky few to get their hands on a true-blue McLaren sports car.