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Car Tech Video: Take a ride on the McLaren MP4-12C, and hold on tight!
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Car Tech Video: Take a ride on the McLaren MP4-12C, and hold on tight!

5:44 /

At $230,000, the race-track-ready McLaren MP4-12C could be both your second and third car.

If you watched many of my videos, you already know by now I'm not all that easily impressed by super cars. 80% of them go to customers who use maybe 20% of what they can do and I'm not sure I can do much more. But McLaren promises to get my attention with this guy, which they say is not just super high performance, but super livable. Let's find out as we drive the MP4 12C and check the tech. If you're not into car racing or formula 1 in particular, he's a short course on McLaren. They're serious but with this inelegantly name MP4 12C, they've achieved a very elegant balance of street car and track car. Now, the biggest technology on this car is the active suspension. It creates both the Jekyll and the Hyde parts of this vehicle. Okay. This rolling chassis shows that some of the magic of the MP4 12C. First of all, this is a carbon tub. It weighs about 160, 170 pounds, that's it, and it's the primary piece of this car's structure. Front and rear, aluminum sub frames. In the front you hang the suspension off and it brings the front of the car to life. In the rear, you've got the engine mounted back there. Now, your typical car is gonna have a sway bar running across here and all of the suspension components are largely being driven by gravity, the vehicles weight and the wheels across the car kind of tied together fighting each other. What this McLaren does is this elaborate system of rather pretty plumbing pushing fluid back and forth under pressure, varying pressure by the millisecond, to these what appear to be coil struts but in fact what they're able to do is 2 things. They can push back in corners to keep the car level, doing what a sway bar does but smart, and they can also change the shock rate, the damper rate. So the shock absorbers can go from being very firm to very soft, depending on what kind of driving you're doing. After all that, the engine is almost conventional. Almost. 3.8 liter twin turbo V8 doing 592 horsepower, 443 foot pounds of torque, 0 to 60 in about 3 1/3 seconds or less if you know what you're doing and yet 1522 mpg. Told you, had a split personality. One gear box, a 7 speed dual clutch automated manual. Controlling all that power are these 2 switches that move the handling or the power train from normal to sport to track. I suspect you've noticed that LCD and wondered how it got that way. Well, McLaren mounted it in portrait mode to allow for a narrower console. To that same end, they moved the climate control out to the doors. Navigation will be available, along with all the modern audio sources but that kind of tech isn't paramount here. This is. Here's what's truly amazing. You're right. It just doesn't run out of torque, does it? Not a car running to save my ass on that last one. The ability control kicks in. Oh right, forget about that. That one always blows me. I'd be that guy you see on the television broadcast in the wall. But a lot of cars can go fast around a track. Peeling off on the local streets, that's really eye opening. This car's got many modes that go beyond the most comfortable. I am in what's called the normal mode and I'm. gonna do this thing automatically. But press the little button that says active and then you got a whole new world of possibilities. The toggle over here called 8 sensor handling system, you got normal, sport and track. Pretty self explanatory. They're levels of aggression for how the adaptive suspension works. And then over here, the one called (Vius?) performance or power train actually, normal, sport and track again, that's gonna map your throttle and change out the gear box operator. There's something else on this car that's part of this controls that you haven't seen before, uniquely McLaren. It's called the ISG, the intake sound generator. Check this out, when you go to the more aggressive modes like sports or track, it's going to vent in some of that raspy, blood curdling, hair standing exhaustment. Just to remind you that you are driving a very impressive vehicle. Now, the car's got high tech written throughout it but not in the most extreme way. They still have a good, old fashioned analog speedometer. Around it thought are full video gauges, bar graphs for oil pressure, water temperature, fuel level and such. All kinds of power train indication. Inside this car is pretty damn comfortable, more a car of its size. And I can't say that about every car in the super car class. Some of them feel lke you're driving a super car all the time which is cool. Except you're not gonna wanna try it that much. A car like this, I think you would. (Dave?) Davis wants to add that anybody worth anything at all needs to hold a 12 cylinder car once in their lifetime. Because that's a real sound, he said. There's nothing else quite like it. Well, this is an 8 cylinder car but I can guarantee you, it's also a real sound and a real operatic experience. We're about to enjoy that as we have one of the great Look at Me experience eat at the. in Los Angeles in a busy freeway with everyone looking, the guy has been to track, the exhaust rolling and out of the car and we're gonna hit it. If you'd like to turn heads, this is your ride. If you're in the market for a $230 dollar car, it's probably not your only car. But the 12C has a wide enough range of personalities that it could be both your second and third car. It is utterly impractical. The DCT gear box occasionally gets that confused look around town. They all do and I could actually do without the exhaust noise feature aimed at the back of my head. It's throaty enough without it. But I think a few years from no, you'll find 12Cs on the resale market with some decently high number's on the Odometer. And for a car like this, that's the ultimate compliment

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