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Rent McLaren MP4-12C in Europe
The launch of the MP4-12C has thrown down the gauntlet to Ferrari. What’s amazing about this first model from McLaren Automotive is that it’s such a complete package right from the start – something that has taken other supercar
manufacturers decades to attain. For some buyers, it may be a bit clinical in the way it demolishes quality opposition, such as the 458 Italia, in terms of handling, acceleration, braking, build quality and everyday useability.
But the MP4-12C was the car for all the world to beat.
At the heart of the MP4-12C was a bespoke twin-turbo V8 engine that has since gone on to feature in all McLaren road cars. Here, the 3.8-litre unit produced 592bhp, with 80 per cent of its 442lb ft of torque available at just
1900rpm. These sorts of figures may be commonly seen in contemporary super saloons, but in 2011 they were world-beating, and made the Ferrari 458, particularly its torque-lite naturally aspirated engine, feel a little weedy. Designed
with a flat-plane crank, it revved to the stratospheric heights of highly-strung rivals, but thanks to its pair of turbochargers hit with a thick wave of torque that made light work of its lithe 1300kg kerb weight. The power unit
wasn’t perfect (aurally it wasn’t that exciting), and being turbocharged it lacked the razor-sharp response that usually defines supercar engines, but in terms of capability the McLaren’s engine set a precedent. Not only did the
MP4-12C’s engine set new supercar benchmarks, like its Italian contemporary it also featured a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. As with the rest of the car, McLaren’s Formula 1 ties shone through, as the transmission brought with
it a selection of aspects that continue to be defining features in all McLaren road cars.
The MP4-12C was criticised for being a little underwhelming to look at when it was launched, but like the car underneath, it was just the first step in McLaren’s growth as a road car manufacturer. Inside, a minimalist
approach was applied, with the driver and passenger sat close together due to the carbonfibre tub and McLaren’s desire to centre the weight in the cabin as much as possible. As a result, the centre console was very narrow,
informing McLaren’s use of a bespoke portrait-layout infotainment system called IRIS. In contrast to Ferrari, which moved all of the usual stalk functions (lights, indicators, wipers etc) to the steering wheel, McLaren took the
opposite approach, leaving the steering wheel clear of all controls. To control the different drive modes, McLaren placed two rotary dials at the base of the console, one controlling the powertrain, and the other the chassis.
Designed to give drivers near-infinite control over the car’s different components, it was a complex, albeit clear way of adapting the McLaren to whatever situation it was in, whether driving to the shops, or Silverstone.
Like many other elements of the MP4-12C, this sounds relatively commonplace now, but was a groundbreaking element at its launch.
McLaren MP4-12C Specs:
- Engine: 3.8 L V8- Max Power: 600 bhp @ 7500rpm- Max Torque: 600 Nm @ 3000 rpm- Seating Capacity: 2- Transmission: Automatic- Boot Space: 144 liters- Fuel Tank Capacity: 72 liters- Fuel Type: Petrol
- Body Type: Coupe
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