Test Drive: McLaren MP4-12C

Test Drive: McLaren MP4-12CPhotos by Mike Dodd and Matthew de Paula

McLaren MP4-12C
Power: 592 hp, 443 lb, ft
Engine: 3.8 Liter twin-turbo V8
Fuel consumption: N/A 
Price as tested: $229,000
mclarenautomotive.com


Strengths: Driving 35 mph in the British backcountry isn’t the best way to review a $230,000 super car—especially when it’s your first time on the wrong side of the road. But those were the conditions we were dealt, so here goes: The McLaren MP4-12C is awesome. Just look at my goofy grin in the photo above. Enough said.

Well, okay—here are some reasons why it is so awesome: It’s built by a company that usually only makes multi-million-dollar Formula 1 race cars. It has a one-piece carbon-fiber tub as the basis for its chassis—a hugely expensive and complicated feat of engineering. It’s not only faster than some of the competition, but also more fuel efficient. Its three suspension settings let you dial in for comfort, sporty driving, or an all-out track attack. It’s easier to see out of and therefore not as intimidating to drive as other mid-engine super cars. The way it connects the driver to the road is spectacular. Oh, and the doors open up like an eagle spreading its wings.

Weaknesses: There is something a bit cold and austere about the McLaren MP4-12C. It’s a gorgeous car, but somehow it doesn’t quite get the blood pumping like a Ferrari 458 Italia. Driving it is exhilarating, yet it feels a bit more tame than other super cars. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. McLaren’s engineering mantra is “everything for a reason.” So every last curve and scoop of the body does something beyond just look good, whether it be improving aerodynamics or engine cooling or visibility. Likewise, the mechanics are completely paired down to the bare essentials, which is key to keeping the car light and increasing fuel economy. Essentially, the MP4-12C’s weaknesses are academic and purely subject to one’s tastes.

Final Take: Like McLaren’s million-dollar F1 road car from the mid-1990s, the new MP4-12C disrupts convention with innovative engineering. It’s antiseptic nature is the yin to hot-blooded Italian super cars‘ yang. We can’t wait to get more time behind the wheel—especially on a race track.
Tags: test-drive, mclaren, mclaren-mp4-12c
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