The independent car division based at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England,the McLaren MP4-12C is revealed as the first in a range of high-performance sports cars from McLaren Automotive.The 12C, and future models within the range, will challenge the world's best sports cars, benefiting from the expertise and virtuosity of the McLaren Group.
Through a rich modern history, McLaren's automotive division has already built the world's most critically acclaimed supercar, the McLaren F1 (1993-1998) and the world's best-selling luxury supercar, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (2003-2009). McLaren Automotive now looks to the future with a new range of revolutionary sports cars.
The first car from the new company, the McLaren MP4-12C, is a high performance two-seat mid-engine model in the 'core' sports car market segment for cars costing between £125,000 and £175,000.It goes on sale through a dedicated, worldwide retailer network in early 2011.
All the parts of the McLaren MP4-12C are bespoke and unique to this car. Everything from the engine right down to the tailor-made switches and buttons is pure McLaren: nothing has come from another manufacturer's parts bin.
"The 12C is all about performance," said Sheriff. "And in McLaren, we have a very broad definition of performance. We don't just look at the traditional one-dimensional parameters like top speed, we focus equally on useable measures such as in-gear acceleration times, braking performance in all conditions, and efficiency of power delivery combined with the lowest possible fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Sure, 12C is very fast, but it is also the most efficient, most driveable high-performance sports car in the world.
Thorough engineering and market research led to concept development and a clear decision in favour of a mid-engined two door high performance sports car. Intensive work was carried out in the wind tunnel and the driving simulator to ensure that the new car would inherently have superb dynamic qualities.
The McLaren MP4-12C design follows similar principles to McLaren's Formula 1 cars, and the legendary McLaren F1, where everything is for a reason and all lines, surfaces, and details are designed with a job in mind as much as styled. This ensures that the 12C communicates its engineering through its styling and will remain timeless as a piece of automotive design.
"By the time the 12C is launched in 2011 we expect the economic conditions to be much improved. We have already seen significant interest in the car and the supply of the 12C will be relatively scarce; in its first year we plan to produce just 1,000 cars which represents only 3.5 per cent of the 'core' market," explained Antony Sheriff.
The McLaren MP4-12C is powered by a twin-turbocharged, 3.8 litre 90 V8 engine - the 'M838T'. This marks the start of a new era in 'core' segment sports cars - smaller capacity, lighter weight, higher efficiency and more economical power units. The engine has the highest specific power output in its segment which, when allied to its low weight carbon composite chassis, delivers exemplary power- and torque-to-weight ratios.The McLaren engine revs to 8,500rpm, has quick transient throttle response and delivers its abundant torque throughout the rev range. A staggering 80 per cent of torque is available at below 2,000rpm, ensuring great driveability and no need to floor the throttle to deliver performance.
The McLaren MP4-12C has been designed around a demanding mechanical package that puts emphasis on aerodynamics, compact dimensions, performance and efficiency, practicality and comfort. Although the design of the 12C was driven by aerodynamics, it aims to remain contemporary and elegant throughout its lifetime as well as distinctive among its peers.
"The 12C design was therefore led by aerodynamics. At McLaren we have been able to use the Formula 1 techniques and the huge expertise that the company has amassed at the pinnacle of the sport," explained Stephenson.
Aerodynamic efficiency drove the 12C's design. High downforce helps maintain traction, cornering ability and stability while low drag aids top speed and acceleration. It has a completely flat underbody and smooth upper body surfaces to yield a highly effective drag coefficient and generate very high levels of balanced downforce at high speed.