McLaren redefined what was possible with sports cars when it launched the ground-breaking McLaren F1 back in the 90s, and the British car company is set slap 21st century supercars upside the head gasket with its MP4-12C.

McLaren today confirmed performance figures for the MP4-12C, and they make for good reading. Actually, they made us spit our morning coffee out, because they indicate the MP4-12C is faster, more powerful and significantly cleaner than any of its rivals from Ferrari, Lamborghini or Aston Martin.

Its 3.8-litre, twin-turbo, V8 engine chucks out 592bhp and 600Nm of torque -- 30bhp and 60Nm more than the 4.5-litre V8 in a Ferrari 458 Italia. 0-62mph flashes up in 3.3 seconds (3.1 seconds with optional Corsa C performance tyres), making it 0.07s quicker than a Mercedes SLS AMG. It'll do a quarter-mile sprint in 10.9 seconds and it'll keep going 'til it headbutts the horizon at 205mph.

The MP4-12C offers fabulous braking and handling too -- 62mph-0 takes just 100 feet. The car features Brake Steer technology that automatically activates the inside rear brakes in high speed corners to reduce understeer (skidding straight on instead of turning). Intriguingly, this tech was used briefly on McLaren's MP4-12 Formula One car, but was subsequently banned for giving McLaren drivers an unfair advantage.

The MP4-12C spanks its rivals for efficiency. Somehow McLaren has managed to coax 24.2mpg from its engine, which has carbon dioxide emissions of just 279g/km. Compare those figures to the 17.2mpg and 388g/km of the slower Aston Martin DBS and you'll begin to appreciate the technical wizardry employed by McLaren's boffins.

Despite being better (on paper, at least) than most other sports cars, the McLaren MP4-12C won't be any more expensive. It'll cost £168,500 when it goes on sale in spring, with McLaren hoping to produce 1,000 examples for worldwide distribution before 2012.

It's fair to say we're terribly excited by this thing, as should you be. Have a gander through the photos in our gallery above, then go check out some of the hands-on shots we took when we saw the MP4-12C in the fleshback in March last year.

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