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New McLaren: the real numbers

2011-02-15 07:22

STEP OUT IN STYLE: Could this be the most finessed, predictable and forgiving compact supercar ever? Looks good in McLaren’s traditional orange hue.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer MCLAREN
Model MP4-12C
Engine 3.8l bi-turbo V8
Power 441kW @ 7 000rpm
Torque 600Nm @ 3 000- 7 000rpm
Transmission Seven-speed DCT
Zero To Hundred 3.1 sec
Top Speed 330km/h
Fuel Consumption 11.7l/100km
Weight 1 301kg
Tyres Pirelli PZero F: 235/35 R19 R: 305/30 R20
Front Suspension Double-wishbone
Rear Suspension Double-wishbone

Lance Branquinho

With former Audi SA boss Greg Levine now occupying the position of marketing director at McLaren cars, obviously we’ve taken a keen interest in Woking’s new supercar.

Following the tyre tracks of a car as accomplished as its predecessor, McLaren’s unequalled F1, the new MP4-12C is facing daunting (some would say unrealistic) statistical expectations from petrolheads the world over.

Although McLaren has shown off the MP4-12C, activated its online configurator and even entertained the local motoring media by confirming it will have a South African presence, performance figures have been conjecture. Until now.

FLAWLESS SPECIFICATION

McLaren has (finally) released the official media package concerning the MP4-12C and, although we’ve known the configuration and mechanical details of the car since late 2009, we can now extrapolate the data and judge just how well all those fancy bits work together.

To recap, the MP4-12C features a carbon monocell tub, with double-wishbones (featuring electronically controlled adjustable dampers) at each corner.

Cloaked beneath its rather tame bodywork, the MP4-12C has a 3.8-litre, twin-turbo, Riccardo engineering-fettled V8 engine good for 441kW at 7000rpm in European specification. Californian emissions control trims American bound MP4-12Cs down to a round figure 440kW - pity the Yanks.

Crucially the MP4-12C is (quite) light. In fact, with the car’s ‘lightweight’ options specified, it weighs only 1301kg dry.

Dynamic purity is guaranteed by virtue of a single differential at the rear, with power transferred by a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (supplied by Graziano) with pre-cognitive shift recognition. Plainly, the McLaren MP4-12C, on paper, has been configured to comfortably outpace its class rivals, which in terms of size and price, are Ferrari’s 458 Italia, Porsche’s widow-making 911 GT2 and Audi’s R8 V10.

NUMBERS DON'T LIE

With 305/30-profile Pirelli P Zero rubber on 19" wheels at the rear, McLaren claims the MP4-12C is good for 100km/h in 3.3 seconds.

Compare the product matrix and that bests the R8 V10 (3.8), GT2 (3.5) and 458 (3.4). Distressingly (for its rivals), McLaren will offer a Corsa tyre option (courtesy of technology partner Pirelli) capable of running the 0-100km/h in 3.1 seconds. Should make Bugatti Veyron owners take notice...

Still shod with Corsa tyres, the MP4-12C’s performance becomes more pronounced as it gains the opportunity to extent its drivetrain's full potential. It does the 0-200km/h sprint in a scarcely believable 8.9 seconds so 458 (10.4) and GT2 (9.8) owners will be powerless in a race to pass the timing radar gun first.

Top speed is claimed as 330km/h, a number dictated (constrained?) primarily by tyre technology and the requirements McLaren engineers had to equip the MP4-12C with rubber that would be temperature-tolerant at very high speed yet retain outstanding grip and cornering characteristics when loaded with lateral g-forces.

STATISTICALLY SUPERIOR

Perhaps the MP4-12C’s most impressive statistic is its decelerative capability. Unusually, in a world where engineers are preoccupied with employing the latest heat-absorbing materials as brake rotor material, the MP4-12C’s discs are cast iron, measuring 370mm up front and 350mm at the rear. On paper, nothing special really. In practice, though, they are capable, with a little help from the car’s trick suite of airflow management structural design details, of stopping the MP4-12C from 200km/h in only 123m.

Statistically superior – and the figures are entirely believable, as McLaren’s data logging regime has been refined by nearly five decades of F1 racing – the new MP4-12C could radically alter the perception of what a compact supercar really should be.

All in all, it's a shame that American Frank Stephenson (who has the original X5, Ferrari F430 and Maserati MC12 as part of his portfolio) didn't try a little harder to make the MP4-12C’s styling a touch more distinctive.
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