The first McLaren MP4-12Cs to reach customers this week will come with a raft of changes designed to bolster the “emotional appeal” of the new £168,500 supercar.
McLaren has been stung by criticism from the car’s press launch. Almost all the world’s major automotive press, including Autocar, placed the MP4-12C below the Ferrari 458 Italia in tests because it lacked the aural drama and sense of occasion to match its pace and dynamic ability.
Chief among the changes are an improved throttle response and a “fruitier” exhaust note. A McLaren spokesman said these were changes that had been planned anyway, but the press criticism — and McLaren’s “Formula 1 mentality” — had “upped the pace” of development.
“We want drivers to enjoy the car a bit more,” he said. “The changes don’t lead to any performance increase, but they do lead to an emotional increase when you drive the car.”
The changes apply only when the MP4-12C is in Track mode. Many of the tweaks are to the car’s Intake Sound Generator, which controls the amount of noise coming from the engine bay into the cabin. A tube containing a butterfly valve runs from the engine’s plenum chamber to the cabin. The valve now opens wider in Track mode.
“It was a bit too sensible before,” said the spokesman, “You won’t notice the changes in normal mode, just when you’re really having fun and pushing it.”