McLaren 12C review

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What is?

McLaren’s meteoric rise over the last six years is well documented. The launch of the MP4-12C marked the arrival of McLaren Automotive, and while the superlative McLaren F1 and the odd Mercedes SLR sit high above the company’s family tree, it was a new dawn. . A whole range of cars, built in respectable numbers, to take on the class establishment.

Things did not start in the best way. Reaction to the MP4-12C, renamed the 12C during its lifespan, has been lukewarm, with a group of people expecting F1’s second arrival to remain unsatisfied.

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But now that cars like the P1 and 675LT have successfully established McLaren in the supercar arena, and guaranteed to be here for a long time, those early cars are taking on new life. Some suggest that these are outstanding collector’s items: the rare and valuable “McLaren #1”, which will be a major part of sports car collections in the near future.

So the fact that they currently start at £100,000 means the word ‘bargain’ might not be so disposable here. It also means that the first example of one of McLaren’s Super Series cars is comfortably cheaper than its new Sports Series cars (the 540C starts at £126,000). Is this the supercar for the smart?

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Like all McLarens that have followed since then, the core of the 12C consists of two key elements: a carbon ‘MonoCell’ chassis and a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The former helps ensure a rigid yet lightweight structure (and a slightly difficult threshold to cross), the latter prodigious performance.

It was launched in 2011, with the 562-horsepower Ferrari 458 Italia as its main rival. Still, the 12C is printed all over the paper, starting with 592bhp and then ramping up to 616bhp, enough to take its 1.4 tonnes to 207mph, via a 0-60mph time of 3.1 seconds. However, a quick tip online suggests that these performance numbers are conservative.

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It was launched in 2011 as a two-door coupe, the MP4-12C. It’s gotten a few updates over the years, most of which could be retrofitted to existing cars, ranging from power increases to new software for the infamously weird IRIS infotainment system.

In 2012, a Spider version was launched and both cars were renamed ’12C’, presumably so the bar could boast less bite. The Spider has a folding metal roof, which drops electronically, but it means you no longer have a glass engine cover. You might think the trade-off is worth the added thrill of riding in a convertible. We have one here, in the form of a carbon-clad 50th anniversary edition. Fifty were made in each body style, in 2013, and it shows plenty of ‘MSO’ extras you can spec on new and used McLarens.

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The car continued in production until 2014, when it was replaced by the 650S, which was actually a major facelift of the 12C. Before its replacement, however, McLaren added other goodies, including a front-lift system to better clear the nose of speed bumps and proper buttons on the doors rather than the flashy sweep method that made early cars look oddly tough. to enter. Over 3,400 12Cs were built, with sales split 60/40 in favor of the coupé.

What’s the verdict?

The beginning of the modern McLaren starts here with the very serviceable 12C supercar.

The 12C’s cleverest trick is the ease with which it embodies the dark art of supercar driving. Hide under her door before you cross the threshold and you might suspect a wild and unpredictable ride awaits you, but she immediately dispels fear and greets you with a smooth, tame ride and a panoramic view of the world.

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