Until last week I hadn’t seen the new McLaren in the flesh. All I’d seen were pictures of various prototypes testing, and that video of it being driven in Spain by McLaren’s chief test driver and all round nice bloke, Chris Goodwin. And until last week I hadn’t been overly enamoured by what I’d seen.
In the raw, though, the MP4-12C has miles more presence than it does in photographs. It’s not a big car but it has bags of attitude, even if it isn’t drop dead gorgeous in the traditional sense.
Sounds good, too. The noise it makes doesn’t make the earth shudder beneath your feet. Instead it sounds technically complex, like a flat plane-crank V8 with a whole load of extra stuff on top; turbo whooshes, wastegate fizzes, exhaust blips during downshifts as the fuel supply is cut momentarily, even the odd bit of chatter from the diff at idle if I’m not mistaken.
What I also hadn’t grasped until last week is how insanely rapid the new McLaren is going to be. For some reason I hadn’t quite registered that it is going to comprehensively destroy everything else in its class in a straight line – including the new Ferrari 458.
Officially it will have 600bhp and weigh less than 1400kg. Unofficially, the ones I saw testing had over 620bhp and weighed less than 1380kg. With a DSG transmission and gearing that will be far closer and shorter than that of the F1, plus a fair bit more torque from its twin turbo V8, this is going to make the MP4-12C significantly more accelerative than its famous ancestor.
According to off-the-record McLaren test driver parlance it “absolutely mullers” all the other cars they’ve benchmarked it against dynamically – including the you-know-what – and yet it’s also entirely comfortable to drive on the road.
Will that be enough to lure people away from their Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis?
I’d love to know what you lot think; yes or no? And if not, why not?