New McLaren writes own rules

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - LUXURY CARS - Neil Dowl­ing

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..

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