So McLaren has at last launched its long-awaited MP4-12C, the unofficial successor to the legendary F1 (let’s forget about the McMerc SLR, shall we?). And I’ll wager that critics will be swift to blast it for being generic (there is a touch of F430 and 360 Modena about the front, after all) and, well, bland.

But I reckon they’re mistaken.

McLaren MP4-12C - exclusive details, photos and videos

Okay, I’ll admit that the MP4-12C is perhaps a little less striking than Ferrari’s forthcoming 458, or even the Lamborghini Gallardo. But the boys from Woking have simply applied the same theory to this car’s design as the one they used for the F1, so they’ve resisted the temptation to slap aerodynamic appendages and ridiculous curves everywhere.

I think this is the right thing to do because, even 11 years after it ceased production, the F1 still looks terrific. And that’s primarily because it was created without the sort of trendy visual gimmicks that tend to age all designs. If the MP4-12C grows old half as gracefully as the F1, then I think Frank Stephenson’s styling work will be vindicated.

What’s more, I think the cabin’s great (it feels superbly focused on the driver’s needs when you sit in the hot seat) and I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that the engineering will be first- rate.

Let’s hope so, because the supercar market is all the better when Ferrari and Lamborghini are looking nervously over their shoulders.

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