McLAREN 12C

Top Gear (UK) - - BARGAIN HEROES - WORDS: STEPHEN DOBIE

McLaren’s me­te­oric rise over the past six years is well known. The MP4-12C her­alded the ar­rival of McLaren Au­to­mo­tive, and while the su­perla­tive F1 and odd­ball Merc SLR sit on the fam­ily tree, this was a new dawn. A range of cars, made in num­bers, to take on the old guard.

Things didn’t start su­perbly. Re­ac­tion to the MP4-12C (re­named 12C part­way through its life) was a tad luke­warm, with a bunch of peo­ple ex­pect­ing the sec­ond com­ing of the F1 left un­sated by a car that ap­peared to pri­ori­tise com­fort and us­abil­ity over prick­ling your neck hairs.

But now that cars like the P1, 675LT and 720S have prop­erly es­tab­lished McLaren in the su­per­car arena, and guar­an­teed it’s here for a long time to come, those early cars are tak­ing on some­thing of a new life. Some are sug­gest­ing they’re col­lec­tors’ items in wait­ing, the ‘McLaren v1.0’ that will be an im­por­tant part of sports-car col­lec­tions of the fu­ture.

So the fact they cur­rently start at be­low £90k means the word ‘bar­gain’ might be more ap­pro­pri­ate than it first ap­peared when you flicked to this page. It also means the first ex­am­ple of one of McLaren’s Su­per Se­ries cars is cheaper than its Sports Se­ries cars start at new (the 540C be­gins at £135k).

The 12C’s clever­est trick is how it makes the dark art of driv­ing a su­per­car very easy. Skulk un­der its door be­fore hur­dling over the sill and you might sus­pect you’re in for a wild and un­pre­dictable ride, but it im­me­di­ately dis­si­pates the fear and wel­comes you in with a soft and com­pli­ant de­meanour and a widescreen view of the world.

It should be easy to live with, too. The en­gine is de­scribed as ‘bul­let­proof’, and oil top-ups or tyre changes out­side of the 12C’s de­sired 10k-mile ser­vic­ing sched­ule are rare if you don’t of­ten visit track­days. If you want an easy route to a good ’un, buy­ing through McLaren’s Qual­i­fied scheme will mean trou­ble­some elec­tron­ics should be ban­ished. And if it’s an ear­lier MP4-12C, its 592bhp will have been up­graded to the 616bhp of later 12Cs.

It also brings war­ranty cover, road­side as­sis­tance, and the op­por­tu­nity to spec MSO be­spoke parts as if you were buy­ing the car new. Yep, a be­spoke car­bon-tubbed su­per­car for around £100k. To some peo­ple, that re­ally will be a bar­gain.

Want the open-top ex­pe­ri­ence? A 12C Spi­der will cost about 10 per cent more than a Coupe, with prices start­ing at £100k

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