I’ve just pointed the nose of the McLaren MP4-12C in the direction of the Hajar Mountains. So far I’ve been in Comfort setting all-around, but as I turn off the highway it’s time for a change in personality. Track mode for suspension and powertrain, ‘manual’ button pressed, downshift to second, foot to floor.
An explosion of noise and acceleration pins me to the seat and fires the McLaren up the road like a bullet from a gun. There is minimal delay in the turbochargers’ energising, and the acceleration is of savage ferocity. As the top of the rev range is reached a penetrating bellow, infused by a slightly dirty beat, fills your eardrums.
As I gather speed the steering comes alive and fidgets in your hands in a manner not dissimilar to a 911.This is a monstrously rapid car, its accelerative surge relentless as the gears are snicked through almost seamlessly with breathtaking speed and precision. The horizon suddenly seems very close and I hit the brakes. The stopping power of the carbon-ceramic brakes is incredible and pedal feel is almost perfect.
As the roads get more challenging the MP4-12C really begins to shine, crushing every challenge thrown at it. There is effectively no roll when cornering and the grip appears to be endless. McLaren claims the hydraulic active damping generates up to 25 percent more grip mid-corner than most conventionally suspended competitors. From the way it felt so nailed through any direction change, and seemingly at any speed, I’m not going to accuse them of exaggerating. Most racing cars on slicks would struggle to keep up through the corners. Be in no doubt whatsoever that the MP4-12C is a truly extraordinary car.