McLaren 12C: Hunting the Italians

McLaren's first road car in decades has a tough job to do - it's got to take on Ferrari, Lamborghini and co. Does it have what it takes?

McLaren is a name steeped in history. Racing successes and world-record-smashing cars make up its past, but the 12C is an indication of its future. And it's looking pretty rosy.

Fresh off the back of a collaboration with Mercedes on the SLR hypercar, McLaren decided it wanted to build a world-beating supercar. Something to make Ferrari and its ilk run for the hills in fear. It would have to be light, fast, comfortable, and good-looking. It would have to be absolutely perfect.

Thankfully, using techniques refined over years of road and race car practice, the 12C is an utterly stunning piece of machinery.

A fusion of style and substance is something that many try for, but rarely manage -- the 12C appears to have nailed it. Its carbon-fibre tub, which takes only a few hours to manufacture, is a thing of beauty. Its exposed weave greets you as you enter the car and gives you a hint as to the 12C's true capability.

Inside you sit low and to the centre of the car. The vertical dash stack takes a bit of getting used to, but the car's ICE hub almost winks at you and gives you the impression that what you're about to experience is nothing short of brilliance.

Prod the starter button and 3.8 litres of V8 makes itself known not only to you, but to whoever happens to be within a 5-mile radius. It's not subtle, this thing. Its turn of pace is unbelievable, and mostly unusable outside of a track/Germany. No matter; McLaren's engineers have made a car that's comfy pootling about town (while making all manner of noise) or haring along some twisty bits of Wales.

It steers incredibly, giving you all manner of feedback that most mortals (me included) will probably never be able to decipher. It's been precision engineered to be the best car you'll ever drive.

And this, with the arrival of the P1 Hypercar and no doubt many more in the coming years, is just the start for McLaren Automotive.

The 12C's job is to make people's "must-drive" lists. It's got to be the car that people want to drive, want to love. It's got to be the car that some would die to own, or even drive for a second or two. No, McLaren doesn't have the heritage of some of its competitors, but what it has got is expertise.

Bring it.

Specs
Engine 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8
Power 616 bhp
Torque 443 lb. ft.
0-60 mph 3.1 seconds
Top speed    207 mph
 

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