We’re now a month into our three-month long-term test of the McLaren MP4-12C and I still can’t believe our luck.
As you can imagine, when the car landed in our underground parking it took an agonisingly long time and lots of painstaking thought to determine which member of team crankandpiston.com would get to keep it. Seeing as you’re reading my words on this page you’ve probably figured out that I’ve pulled rank on this one.
As the car arrives just in time for the weekend, the first order of business is to go for a proper blast. A busy schedule means it’s been a while since I’ve gone for a drive just for the hell of it, so I’m going to make an effort and point the car north towards Kalba. It’s been a while since I’ve gone out there and I’m disappointed to see that the previously radar-free straight road through the desert now has speed cameras galore to ruin any thoughts of exploring the higher ends of the speedo.
What it does allow me to do is appreciate the McLaren’s GT credentials. With suspension set to Normal mode the ride is truly remarkable and unique, gliding over any imperfections in the road. For such a compact car the cabin never feels anything but spacious, aided by the excellent visibility, which adds to the airy feel of the cabin. So far my only complaint is that the seat is a bit hard for my liking, but it’s not exactly torture as the seating position is nigh on perfect.
As desert turns into mountain the road ahead gets interesting and is gladly radar free. Flick the switches to Track mode and the Macca is suddenly a stiff, snarling monster that attacks the asphalt. It’s amazing how different the current MP4-12C is to the one that arrived on the scene a couple of years ago. Whereas the launch car was criticised for lacking in character, the car I’m driving today is a match for its Italian rivals in that department. This is mainly due to the retuned sports exhaust, which while not as musical as its Latin competitors now makes a noise so savage it’s almost frightening.
Power has also been upped to 616bhp meaning acceleration is even more staggering. Earlier cars also felt a bit vague when pushing on. Particularly disconcerting was the initial turn-in at high speed, which for a split second always gave you the heart-stopping impression that the front tyres had lost their connection with the tarmac. This was just the brake-steer doing its thing, but it was scary nonetheless. The 2013 models seem to have had this trait dialled out resulting in a perfect amount of pointiness. The harder you push the more rewarding the McLaren is to drive.
Sadly life isn’t all mountain roads and back in the real world supercars tend to be a bit of a pain in the behind. Amazingly the McLaren isn’t. So far it has proved to be a truly useable and practical car. It’s easy to place in traffic and the double-clutch transmission is as good at creeping in congestion as it is hammering home millisecond-quick seamless shifts when you’re flat out. Parking is a doddle, although a rear-view camera would be a welcome addition purely due to the value of the car.
To be honest it’s quite surprising that the MP4-12C isn’t equipped with one. Actually my only real difficulty with the car so far has been parking related, and it is to do with the doors. As they swing upwards and outwards they need quite a bit of space to open, which can be a bit of a problem if you come back and find another car parked too close. Unlike traditional doors you can’t crack them open and squeeze in, here you either have enough space to open them or you don’t. I found this out the hard way when a trip to the mall and a parked too close Range Rover left me climbing in through the passenger side.
A few days after my drive out of town I received a call from Al Habtoor motors; the UAE McLaren dealer and owner of my loan car; to inform me that I had not one but two speeding tickets at a total cost of $385. Oops! I knew that supercar ownership wasn’t going to be cheap but that wasn’t where I was expecting the costs to come from. Hopefully the McLaren and I can stay out of trouble over the next couple of months.
|2013 McLaren MP4-12C|
|Engine:||V8 Twin Turbo / 3799cc|
|Location:||Mid / longitudinal|
|Power:||625hp @ 7500rpm|
|Torque:||442lb ft @ 3000-7000rpm|
|Transmission:||Seven-speed SSG / rear-wheel drive|
|Front suspension:||ProActive chassis control|
|Rear suspension:||ProActive chassis control|
|Brakes:||Cast iron discs with forged aluminium fubs / 370mm (front) / 350mm (rear)|
|Wheels:||19-in x 8.5-in J (front) / 20-in x 11-in J (rear)|
|Tyres:||235/35 R19 (front) / 305/30 R20 (rear) / Pirelli P Zero|
|0-100kph:||3.1 sec (claimed)|
|Top speed:||333kph (claimed)|