The McLaren MP4-12C: A Truly Original Drive


When the McLaren Automotive Company launched the MP4-12C in 2011, it was the first sports car wholly manufactured by the organisation since the McLaren F1 was released in 1998. But why does it offer such a unique drive in the world of motor sports?

The MP4-12C boasts a carbon fibre frame to minimise weight because the weight of a car can affect its performance. McLaren have also made a number of other changes to their regular sports car designs in the making of the MP4-12C so that it achieves the greatest level of power output possible. This includes designing an automatic roof made from lightweight materials, officially making it the lightest retractable car roof of any road worthy convertible.

The MP4 is powered by a mid-mounted McLaren M838T 3.8-litre V8, twin-turbo engine. This advancement means that it’s a road worthy sports car that includes technology usually reserved for Formula 1 racing vehicles. This can also be seen in the inclusion of ‘brake steer’ capabilities, a technology that uses the inclusion of an Electronic Stability Control (ESP). ESP is a highly precise electro-hydraulically-assisted system that automatically brakes the inside wheel when steering around sharp corners, effectively turning the car into a bend and preventing understeer from occurring.

The MP4 also comes with several different driving modes – Normal, Sport and Track. Driving in Normal mode makes for a well-adjusted ride which is actually better than many saloon supercar drives thanks to a well-controlled performance. Track mode is far too stiff for use on city roads, but as the name suggests, it is ideal for circuits, so for drivers serious about their rally drives, the MP4 offers the most ideal of McLaren driving experiences [] the company has yet produced.

Unlike its predecessor the McLaren F1, the MP4 has a standard two seat interior and is narrower than other sports cars, so that the driver is seated closer to the centre of the car in a more comfortable position in what is referred to in the automotive industry as the ‘driver zone’.

The car’s engine is also highly advanced. It is connected to a seven-speed automatic dual-clutch gearbox designed by the world’s leading gearbox engineer, Oerlikon Graziano. This technology has been nicknamed the Seamless Shift Gearbox (SSG) as the system includes a “Pre-Cog” mechanism that allows a driver to change between gears by simply tapping the paddle lightly.

The MP4-12C can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds, and has a top speed of 207 mph. It also has a brake system that lets the engine go from 124 mph to a complete stop in less than five seconds, an outstanding achievement for a road driven supercar.