Alas and alack, our Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed has left us. Let there be much crying and gnashing of teeth.
What’s that? A McLaren MP4-12C? For us? I suddenly feel much better.
Yes, we appear to have wangled ourselves three months with one of the hottest sports cars of the last five years, responsible for scaring Ferrari silly and igniting a debate over what’s better – passion or clinical excellence?
We’re not quite buying into that argument – we know from our visits to both Maranello and Woking that there’s as much passion in the UK as there is in Italy. But now we get to experience more than just first impressions.
As it’s the 2013 model, there are a few tweaks on our ride from the car that first appeared on the roads back in 2011. Firstly, it’s got an extra 25bhp from its mid-mounted 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8. Secondly, it doesn’t have the infuriating hidden door handles that steadfastly refused to work for me the first time I drove the car a couple of years ago. Instead, there’s a new rubber-covered button that sits discretely under the lip on the car’s flank. Now a simple press is all that’s needed to send the doors skywards.
Once inside the car – which is painted in a sparkly Supernova Silver – the interior is very McLaren. It’s understated, but chic with it. Our car is smothered in black leather on the seats and doors, black Alcantara on the roof and carbon fibre down the centre console, all lined with orange stitching and topped off with embossed McLaren swooshes on the headrests. Other options on the car include carbon fibre around the wheel arches and engine bay, a beefier sports exhaust and a Stealth Pack, which means darker exhaust tips and wing supports.
In the name of weight-saving, the seats adjust manually, but the driving position is superb: I can bring the wheel close to my chest without having to wrap my legs around my ears. It’s these little details that really appeal about McLaren. They’ve clearly thought long and hard about how owners will want to sit when driving hard.
Rest assured we will be driving it hard, but we’ll be living with it day-to-day as well. With that in mind, we’re hoping that the impressive ride quality we remember from previous examples is as good as our memories suggest. Speedbumps galore across Dubai aren’t kind to typical sports car-driving rear ends. Carrying shopping however shouldn’t be too much of a chore. Opening the bonnet reveals a surprisingly large boot space, easily capable of swallowing a couple of large holdalls.
Our car isn’t new. It’s got 6392km on the clock from its previous life as a demo car, and who knows how well it’s been looked after before? We’re pretty confident though that any problems will have been remedied by McLaren before they shipped it back out of the door to us. After all, the Woking company is one famed for its attention to detail, and we’re looking forward to reaping the benefits of that extraordinary focus over the next few months.
|2013 McLaren MP4-12C
|V8 Twin Turbo / 3799cc
|Mid / longitudinal
|625hp @ 7500rpm
|442lb ft @ 3000-7000rpm
|Seven-speed SSG / rear-wheel drive
|ProActive chassis control
|ProActive chassis control
|Cast iron discs with forged aluminium fubs / 370mm (front) / 350mm (rear)
|19-in x 8.5-in J (front) / 20-in x 11-in J (rear)
|235/35 R19 (front) / 305/30 R20 (rear) / Pirelli P Zero
|3.1 sec (claimed)