14/06/19

Throwback: Taking Another Look at the McLaren MP4-12C

If you’re a car person, there’s no doubt that you’ve spent hours looking through car sales websites to see what’s out there, regardless of price; well, we’re guilty of it too (our Digital Team could advise you of near every LaFerrari and Aventador for sale across the country). During a recent search through our stocklist, we found three stunning McLaren MP4-12Cs. Inspired by our discovery, we thought we’d take a look back at McLaren’s first supercar since the infamous F1.

Filled with, at the time, revolutionary technology, the 12C was praised by Automotive Journalists everywhere for its performance; Jeremy Clarkson even said that “it feels like no other car. It feels better. More alive. Just absolutely, totally brilliant” – strong words from someone that is known for pulling no punches.

Part of that worldwide praise came due to how the 12C was built; at its core, the 12C housed the first iteration of McLaren’s fantastic carbon ‘MonoCell’ chassis tub. Stiff yet lightweight, this carbon tub granted the 12C incredible rigidity without compromising the weight, and subsequently, performance of the whole car.

In fact, that one-piece carbon MonoCell meant that the 12C boasted a dry weight of just 1,336kg or 1,301kg with the lightweight options.

Bolted to the rear of that carbon MonoCell was a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 that revved to 8,500rpm and produced 592bhp (that was upped to 616bhp in 2013). Mixed with the car’s fantastic ability to put the power down, that powerplant meant that the 12C could fly from 0-62mph in just 3.3 seconds on to a top speed north of 200mph.

The McLaren 12C was more than just a powerful supercar however; it was best known for its notoriously brilliant handling. Tested and developed at the Top Gear test track, the 12C was blessed with an innovative Proactive Chassis Control system, double wishbone suspension with coil springs and clever adaptive interconnected damping that provided increased stiffness and less body roll. Amazingly, the latter meant that conventional anti-roll bars weren’t necessary … which is good because they are “heavy and compromise ride quality” (McLaren’s words).

McLaren MP4-12C

Those clever systems and components were just the tip of the iceberg though; the 12C benefitted from ‘Brake Steer’ – a banned Formula One system that could improve cornering turn-in and encourage later braking by independently braking the inside rear wheel – and one of the first instances of an active rear wing airbrake to reduce stopping distances. 

That’s just a handful of things that the McLaren 12C had in its arsenal of technology because we don’t have time to go through them all. Regardless, all of the elements landed the McLaren 12C second on the Top Gear lap time board – even beating powerhouses such as the Ferrari Enzo and the Bugatti Veyron SuperSports. 

They were also the reason for the car’s praise amongst journalists; the 12C was known as a fast supercar that was unfathomably capable regardless of what you threw at it. 

Moving away from performance, we feel like the McLaren 12C has aged very well, both inside and out. Starting as a coupe in 2011 and gaining a spider variant in 2012, the 12C featured exterior styling that was honed by aerodynamics but also fitted the long, sleek, style that a supercar of the day was known for. To this day the McLaren 12C remains modern and recognisable, with that rear end living-on through the 650S that replaced it. 

McLaren MP4-12C

Designed for comfort and performance, the cabin remains a nice place to be and is still felt in near all of McLaren’s modern model range. Stepping through theatre-inducing dihedral doors, the driver was treated to an almost selfish interior that focused itself entirely on them.

Unlike many supercars, the 12C was praised across the industry for its ability to be a high performing supercar that was supremely comfortable and usable, even when stuck in traffic for long periods.

What’s incredible is that, despite being a supercar, the 12C is designed to be so usable that it even comes with a ‘Winter Mode’. When selected, this mode overrides the handling and powertrain controls, changing roll stiffness, adaptive damping and Electronic Stability Control so that it’s all optimised for driving in slippery conditions. How many other supercars would you think about taking out in ice and snow?

Over recent years, McLaren seem to be have been going from strength-to-strength, unveiling models that range from the stunning 720S supercar to the outrageous Senna racing car for the road and the upcoming Speedtail, a car that revives that legendary three-seat configuration. Arriving 13 years after the McLaren F1, it’s arguable that we have the MP4-12C (later renamed just ‘12C’) to thank for kick-starting this McLaren revolution.

Fancy picking one up for yourself? At the time of writing, we have three stunning examples available across the group (it was those three that inspired this piece!) so why not take a closer look below? Otherwise, we want to know the best things that you’ve found during your searches … let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.

McLaren MP4-12C

McLaren MP4-12C (2012)
Graypaul Nottingham

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McLaren MP4-12C

McLaren MP4-12C (2012)
Sytner Select Leicester

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McLaren MP4-12C

McLaren MP4-12C (2011)
Sytner Tamworth

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