New McLaren writes own rules
FROM a company that describes itself as like no other sportscar maker comes a stunning highperformance two-seater that hits the world market in 2011.
The McLaren Automotive MP412C, the first of a range of machines from the world’s most successful racing car company, is a carbon-cored, Formula One-inspired bespoke design that is not only rapid but boasts one of the lowest CO2 emissions in its class.
McLaren, driven by chairman Ron Dennis, has already built two critically acclaimed sportscars – the McLaren F1 (1993-1998) and the world’s bestselling luxury supercar, the MercedesBenz SLR McLaren (2003-2009).
The mid-engined MP4-12C takes the price tag down a notch, expecting to debut in the $250,000-$350,000 bracket. That puts it up against the Ferrari 458, Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche 911 Turbo, Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB9.
The car doesn’t share any components with other cars – even the engine is in-house – and will be built in England at McLaren’s factory.
McLaren Automotive managing director Antony Sheriff says the company planned a range of sports cars that were true to its philosophy.
‘‘When we embarked on the 12C project, we wanted to rewrite the rules of sports car design,’’ he says
‘‘The 12C offers performance and technology that exceeds that of the world’s most expensive and sophisticated supercars, while competing in a much more accessible market segment. To achieve this result, we designed every component from scratch to meet the extreme goals of the 12C and avoid any compromise. Forget what you know about sports car companies; McLaren is different.’’
The car is built with a Carbon MonoCell – a carbon-composite construction pioneered by McLaren in the 1981 Formula One MP4/1 model – but to reduce costs is moulded as one piece.
It is the first time a chassis has been made this way.
McLaren claims that this design allows a much narrower structure overall which creates a more compact car that is easier to position on the road and more rewarding to drive.
The engine is a bespoke McLaren 1M838T2 3.8-litre, V8 bi-turbo that produces about 450kW/600Nm and drives through a McLaren sevenspeed Seamless Shift dual clutch gearbox (SSG).
Sheriff says the engine delivers the highest horsepower to CO2 ratio of any car on the market with an internal combustion engine ‘‘and that includes petrol and diesel hybrids’’.
Although the recent economic downturn has affected the performance car sector, McLaren Automotive believes that the MP4-12C’s market segment has grown from 8000 sales in 2000 to more than 28,000 in 2007.
Sheriff says this highlights the potential that exists and that it will soon return to at least 2007 levels.
‘‘By the time the 12C is launched in 2011 we expect the economic conditions to be much improved,’’ he says.
‘‘We have already seen significant interest in the car and the supply of the 12C will be relatively scarce; in its first year we plan to produce just 1000 cars, which represents only 3.5 per cent of its market.’’
McLaren Automotive will distribute the 12C and future models through a brand-new global retail network.
HANDSOME: the MP4-12C from the rear..