crankandpiston have tested the McLaren MP4-12C Spider on track and on the roads in Southern Spain. Time then to see how it fares on home turf.
I have reached an age where I’ve started making sweeping generalisations about the minutiae of life. Normally it’s the dog that gets to listen to my inane ramblings and he does his best not to roll his eyes too much, bless him. My latest thoughts – on life, the universe and everything – concern supercars.
Not that long ago, supercars were usually best kept as posters plastered across the bedroom wall. To extract any driving enjoyment or even unlock a modicum of each supercar’s performance required reflexes the likes of which only the most gifted could boast, and even they were likely to be caught out by the often-schizophrenic nature of the beast. Hit a pothole and the suspension would be wrecked, unusual camber on the road would guarantee a spin, build quality was such that it made a modern Chinese car look like a Rolls-Royce, and if you so much as thought about driving in the wet, instant death would result.
Now, the modern supercar: therein lies an altogether different story. Super-lightweight materials, aerodynamic aids (now an intrinsic part of the design as opposed to after-thoughts), carbon ceramic brakes, smaller engines delivering more power, and a host of hidden electrical gubbins that not only optimise all those new found horses but also help keep these raging monsters under control.
These are the thoughts running through my mind as I sit here comfortably behind the wheel of a new breed of supercar, the McLaren 12C Spider. ‘Supercar’ is a little presumptuous, McLaren insisting as they do that derivatives of their 12C are in fact ‘sportscars’. ‘Comfortably’ is also a slight exaggeration since I am even more cautious/paranoid of my fellow Dubai road users than usual.
Fellow crankandpiston-ite James Gent, who is riding shotgun, is looking similarly nervous. This is after all the team’s first taste of the new 12C Spider since the international launch: on the one hand, we have an obligation to stretch the McLaren’s legs and see what it can do; on the other, we have to make sure this $287,000 sportscar returns to in one piece. Our favourite stretch of meandering tarmac in neighbouring Hatta seems as good a choice as any to get things started.
Early fears that the 12C would be a handful to drive in slow moving traffic prove unfounded with only the occasional turbo chatter from the 3.8-litre V8 behind us a reminder to keep things light with the all-important right foot. Now out on Dubai’s perimeter road, it is time to open up the taps a bit.
I am tentative at first and with good reason. It has been raining all morning and the roads are still sodden, but it would be a bit rude to have a McLaren for the day and not give it some welly. The briefest of dabs on the accelerometer shoots 616bhp through the rear wheels and both James and I are up to that all-important 120kph cruising speed almost instantly.
Given the looks of the 12C Spider though, speed is a given. From a distance you’ll be hard pressed to tell the difference between the hardtop 12C and the Spider; only the eagle-eyed will spot the new buttresses behind the seats. In typically McLaren-esque attention to detail, these act as both rollover protection as well as forming a critical part of the roof mechanism.
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