Feb 01 2012
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Return of the Mac
McLaren MP4-12C re-writes the rules of sports car design and aims to build on McLaren's motor racing success
The challenge of introducing a new McLaren road car to a global market over a period of 12 months would seem daunting but then we are talking about McLaren - a name synonymous with racing technology with an enviable heritage in automotive know how and success on the racetrack. So by capturing the elements of the brand's pedigree - success in F1, the F1 road car and the popularity of the iconic SLR, the introduction of a high performance sports car was the next logical step in the Company's evolution. Moreover, an essential step in securing the positions of more than 800 employees at the state-of-the-art McLaren Technology Centre at Woking in the UK.
Harrison is keen to point out the reasoning for such expansion: "[McLaren Group chairman] Ron Dennis highlighted a long time ago that motor racing, in particular Formula One, was a high risk business, with statistics denoting that over the last 50 years there have been more than 100 race teams that have entered and pulled out at great expense. For this reason diversification was essential to maximise the knowledge base and preserve the expertise within." Under the overarching brand there is McLaren Racing (F1), McLaren Electronic Systems, McLaren GT3 Racing and McLaren Applied Technologies. With the launch of McLaren Automotive in 1989 the doors were opened to translating such racing pedigree into road performance.
"With the introduction of the MP4-12C we had to ensure we ticked all the boxes in relation to engineering, design, speed, technology and style," Harrison points out. "Where we now feel we will excel is in customer service. Strategically we have kept the dealerships to a minimum of premium established retailers in the region".
The new M838T engine powering the MP4-12C is a 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 unit, mated to a seven speed transmission. This McLaren Automotive-developed engine delivers 592 bhp, 22 bhp more than the Ferrari 458 Italia and some 40 bhp more than the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4. Maximum torque of 600 Nm is returned at 7,000 rpm.
All of which means the MP4-12C can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.1 seconds on hot-weather Corsa tyres, making it even quicker than the legendary McLaren F1 road car, acknowledged by many experts as the best car ever built. The 0-200 km/h figure is an equally breathtaking 8.9 seconds.
McLaren Automotive has already handed over more than 30 12Cs to Middle East customers. The factory will produce approximately 1,500 in 2012, and hidden within the secure unit of the Woking HQ there are, for sure, some more surprises at prototype stage awaiting their epiphanic moment.
© The Gulf 2012
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