It would be dishonest if I didn’t mention that I’m a huge McLaren fan. Not only is the iconic McLaren F1 supercar top of my fantasy garage list, but I’m also a serial supporter of the Formula One team. Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button; I’ve cheered for them as long as they were behind the wheel of a Woking racing car. Although I’m not entirely sure why, I even think Ron Dennis is cool. Anyway, I think you get the point. Let’s just say I have very high expectations.
Before I get behind the wheel, McLaren insists that I have a full briefing to explain how everything works and ensure that I have a complete understanding of the mind-boggling technology I am about to experience. So far, so McLaren. On hand to educate me on the ways of the MP4-12C is Duncan Hill, McLaren’s aftersales manager for the Middle East region, who has travelled over from the regional headquarters in Bahrain (McLaren is part Bahraini-owned) for this very purpose.
He talks me round the exterior pointing out things like the fact that McLaren’s logo – styled very much like an upside down Nike swoosh – has been incorporated in the styling, most prominently in the headlights and the air-intakes behind the doors. He also highlights that the exhausts exit above the rear number-plates, which is much higher up than most cars so as not to interfere with and therefore influence the design of the rear-diffuser. Very F1. Very cool.
Once inside the clever touches continue. The minimalist interior could easily have been designed by Bang & Olufsen. It is clear and uncluttered with a surprising amount of space for a car of such compact proportions. They’ve achieved this by using a narrow centre console that houses a vertical touch-screen to control the multi-media system. Unusually the A/C controls are housed in the arm-rests in the door to minimize the clutter in the centre, while the controls for the side-mirrors utilize the same button that switches the parking-sensors on and off.