There is the stuff of genius in this cabin, no question about it. The McLaren F1 has a driving position, for instance, that is without rival. For a start, those over 6ft will find driving a Bugatti or XJ220 largely a matter of contortion, whereas the F1 will come as revelation.
All heights up to 6ft 4in fit perfectly, with ample head and legroom. Because the driving position is central, there is no pedal offset, no wheelarch to negotiate. And the positioning of the pedals, the rake of the steering wheel and its location relative to the gear lever are as close to perfection you’ll find.
The pedals and wheel position can be adjusted, but only by the factory who will tailor the car to its driver before delivery. Thereafter, apart from fore/aft seat travel, the driving position is fixed.
But for one reservation, the F1’s cabin ergonomics work well. The instruments, beautiful, clear and individual, are a delight; a change-up light in the rev counter that flickers on at 7500rpm is especially pleasing. That instrument sits in front of you with the smaller, 240mph speedometer displaced to your right.
In the left-hand cluster are dials for fuel level, water and oil temperature but, oddly, not oil pressure. This is regarded as information that’s only required if there’s a problem and is dealt with, like all other fault-finding functions, via a warning light and an LCD readout.
Our reservation concerns the minor controls, laid out in banks either side of your legs. They deal predominately with the modest air conditioning and incredible Kenwood CD player. These switches are too far from your line of sight for comfort.
Rearward visibility is also a problem. Two interior mirrors provide some but ultimately insufficient detail of what is directly behind the car, while the usefulness of the exterior mirrors is compromised by the A-pillar, which cuts off much of the view they would otherwise give. Worse, if you have tall passengers on board, the interior mirrors are close to useless. Reversing the F1 without external guidance can be a heart-in-mouth affair.
The McLaren will sit three in comfort while swallowing enough luggage to make the eyes of a driver of the physically larger F40, XJ220 or Bugatti pop out. Because you rarely travel three-up anyway, the spare seat becomes useful auxiliary stowage space.
In packaging terms, it is an utter triumph. That said, there are some problems. The driver cannot close the doors without undoing the four-point safety harness and those of a fuller frame will find getting in and out neither easy nor dignified. Heat soak from the engine warms your luggage and, to a lesser extent, your passengers as they sit alongside you in their surprisingly comfortable seats.
The driver, sitting forward in one of the most supportive and just plain comfortable seats we’ve come across, remains cool.
The McLaren is not an especially quiet car at motorway speeds. Surprisingly, perhaps, the engine is the least dominant sound source in the cabin, with wind and tyres vying for that title. What’s more, the driver hears a lot less than the passengers, for whom the noise on a long motorway haul will eventually become a little tiresome.