When the McLaren F1 first hit the streets, it was immediately catapulted to the top of the performance car scene, taking home the title of world’s fastest production car in 1998 and holding it up until 2005. Building a car better than the original F1 was always going to be an uphill task., and perhaps that is why for McLaren’s next supercar, the company isn’t setting its sights too high. The MP4-12C is targeted against the Ferrari 458 Italia and Lamborghini Gallardo rather than the Enzos.
The new model features a raft of technologies never before seen in the sports car or automotive world. At its heart, the MP4-12C features a revolutionary lightweight carbon-fiber chassis structure called the Carbon MonoCell - the first time any car has ever featured a one-piece carbon-fiber structure. Power comes from a new 'M838T' 3.8-liter V-8 twin-turbo engine producing around 600 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque, driving through a McLaren 7-speed Seamless Shift dual clutch gearbox (SSG). 80% of twist is available from below 2,000 rpm and the century sprint is completed in less than 3.0s during initial testing. The gearbox has a trio of performance settings as well as launch control, while gears are selected by an F1-car style rocker shifter that pivots in the center of the wheel.
The MP4-12C also sports an advanced suspension management system called Proactive Chassis Control, which is said to offer the comfort of an executive sedan but with unseen levels of roll control and grip. The system features adjustable roll control which replaces the standard mechanical anti-roll bars. There are three suspension modes that can be selected on the Active Dynamics Panel, namely 'normal', 'sport' and a high performance mode which adjusts numerous parameters in the system.
To improve handling further, the supercar features Brake Steer, an electronic system used by McLaren's 1997 MP4/12 Formula 1 car. It is a system that brakes the inside rear wheel when the car is entering a corner too quickly to make the desired radius, managing understeer in the process.
Inside, the seats can be specified as electrically-operated and heated, or as a manual lightweight sports seat with carbon-fiber seat backs.
Production of the MP4-12C will start at the new McLaren Production Center late this year.