Do you remember the McLaren F1, the fastest production car for almost two decades? The McLaren set the tone for supercars and actually took the step into the prestigious class of “hypercars”.
In that era the McLaren could not be touched and it stood on its thrown for many years. This allowed McLaren to sit back and relax whilst doing the odd collaboration with other car manufacturers. Times have changed and McLaren can no longer boast about having the fastest car in the world and they can also no longer afford to build a car that costs a huge amount to make, like the Bugatti Veyron. The answer would be to create a car that still follows the McLaren standards but at a production cost. The McLaren MP4-12C is the first in a range of high-performance sports cars from McLaren.
The MP4-12C is McLaren from top to bottom, from the revolutionary carbon fibre chassis structure (Carbon MonoCell), to the V8 twin-turbo engine that pushes out over 440Kw. The 12C engine is known as the “M838T” and has all the power sent to the wheels through a McLaren seven-speed Seamless Shift dual-clutch gearbox (SSG). Gears are changed using a Formula One style rocker-shift that pivots in the centre of the steering wheel. It is actuated on either side of the steering wheel (pulling right changes up, pulling left changes down).
Probably the most impressive feature of the McLaren MP4-12C is the revolutionary carbon fibre chassis structure known as the Carbon MonoCell. It is the first time a car in this market segment has ever featured a one-piece carbon fibre structure. This provides safety, handling and weight benefits.
A lot of improvements have been made to the car’s aerodynamics. Many hours were spent in the wind tunnel and the driving simulator to ensure that the new car has inherently superb dynamic qualities.
The dramatic looks of the car are all fully functional. For example, placing the radiators adjacent to the engine keeps the car narrow and reduces weight. However, this results in a huge challenge in ensuring ample airflow to the radiators. The result? The large side air scoops and integrated turning vanes are dramatic, but purely functional; no larger or smaller than required.
The suspension of the MP4-12C breaks new ground giving you the ultimate in performance without sacrificing comfort. The car has track-like responses which would normally imply a rock-hard ride; however the 12C delivers compliance and ride comfort more akin to an executive saloon car. The mix of occupant cosseting and sporting potential is truly unique.
The trick behind blending such opposing objectives lies in the innovative Proactive Chassis Control system, uncompromised geometry and weight distribution.
Aerodynamic efficiency drove the 12C’s design. High down force helps maintain traction, cornering ability and stability while low drag aids top speed and acceleration. It has a completely flat under body and smooth upper-body surfaces to yield a highly-effective drag coefficient and generate very high levels of balanced down force at high speed.
A nose splitter gives more down force at the front while guide vanes near the front and rear wheels help to increase down force with minimal drag penalty and direct air towards the all-important diffuser at the rear.
The interior’s simplicity belies a world-class level of comfort and safety features that will include a full quota of airbags, fully automatic dual-zone climate control, sophisticated telematics and audio systems, parking sensors, trip computer, cruise control and electric memory seats.
In terms of performance the MP4-12C has been reported (not confirmed) to reach 100km/ hour in about three seconds, and possibly under. Like the McLaren F1, their new car seems to come alive at higher speeds and it can reach 200km/ hour in 10 seconds. There is no sign as to how fast the car will go, but no doubt it is well over the 300km/ hour mark.