Almost a year after the last Mercedes McLaren
SLR rolled off the production line, McLaren has shown its MP4-12C to our corner of the world during Pebble Beach weekend. It is the first in what will be a range of McLaren sports cars, and the MP4-12C is the baseline – they will only get faster and more expensive from here.
The raw specs: mid-mounted 3.8-liter twin turbo V8, 600 horsepower, 442 pound-feet of torque. The compelling details, however, are underneath and even beyond the metal bits: McLaren's mission with the MP4-12C is to make technologies usually reserved for Formula 1 cars and Pagani Zondas
accessible to those on less-than-Zonda budgets.
The carbon fiber tub, the monocell, is molded in one piece, a first for a production car. The body panels are tuned to aero purposes only – none of them need to do duty as structural members. The electrohydraulic suspension can be locked out for track blasting, then switched to four-wheel-independent urban duty for a "3 Series or 5 Series ride." It's lower and shorter than a Ferrari 458, but it has a longer wheelbase and it weighs about 160 pounds less. Oh, and it's got the biggest trunk space in the segment. That isn't terribly difficult when supercar trunks are better at stowing leaflets than luggage, but still, feather, meet McLaren cap...
Said McLaren's head of PR, "If you look at our competition, they are the best cars ever made in that segment." We look forward to finding out if the McLaren is even better, because while we walked around the car at Pebble we kept imagining it saying, "If you see the Ferrari 458
, tell it I'm here."