Ten years in development, three years in manufacture and testing, in August, we’ll finally be able to test-drive the new McLaren MP4-12C before the client models start arriving stateside in September. Luckily for us, we won’t have to travel far to experience the most talked about sports car in recent history, just visit McLaren Chicago, better known by car devotees as Lake Forest Sportscars. “It’s blindingly fast,” says Dan Carver of Lake Forest Sportscars. “The performance of the car is unparalleled. It’s new, it’s fresh, and it approaches the high-end, luxury, exotic sportscar from a different angle than other current car companies.”
McLaren started out as a manufacturer of Formula One racing cars. They built their first road-going car, the McLaren F1, in the early ’90s. With a price tag of nearly $1 million, they only manufactured a little more than 100, but it’s still considered one of the best high-end, exotic supercars ever made. As if its massive price tag and rumors of unheard of performance weren’t enough, the F1 also won Le Mans in its first year of competition, which thoroughly cemented its racing legacy.
For the MP4-12C, McLaren took the time to carefully consider every facet of the car and has introduced a staggering level of technical innovations. The chassis is built around a hollow one-piece carbon-fiber tub, which keeps the car exceptionally light, and is also part of what makes it exceptionally fast, doing it at a fraction of the cost of the previous McLarens. It has three settings for both the handling and the power train: normal, sport, and track. In normal mode, everything is automatic. It’s the smooth, quiet ride in comfort that luxury car owners know to be the only way to travel. If you take it up to sport mode and kick it into manual, some of the limiters fall away and you’ll start to hear the car a little more. Using the paddles on either side of the steering wheel to gear up or down puts you in control of the intuitive millisecond shift for the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Taking corners a little faster, you can actually feel the hydraulic suspension kicking in, pushing up, and balancing the side of the car that’s taking the weight of the turn, instead of relying on a couple of anti-roll bars. While it might be a rare occasion when owners of the new MP4-12C turn the car into track mode and really open it up, that’s when they’ll get the full benefit of McLaren’s history as a race car manufacturer. It has 592-horse power at 7,000 rotations per minute courtesy of the twin-turbo 3.8 liter V8 engine. The top speed is 205, and it’ll take you from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.1 seconds. It’s essentially the most comfortable way possible to experience what it’s like to get shot out of a cannon.
The exterior of the car—sleek, narrow, and low to the ground—looks virtually ready to take off at the slightest provocation. There’s no door handle, instead you slide your hand along the underside of a crease that runs the length of the door and it’s electro-magnetically released, scissoring upward. The seat is so low you have to drop into it like a pilot and slide behind the wheel. Unlike the F1, the MP4-12C has room for a passenger as well.
When designing the 12C from the ground up, McLaren also wanted to make it as environmentally friendly as possible. Their brand-new M838T engine is even more power-efficient than a hybrid and produces the highest CO2-to-horsepower ratio of any car on the road today. This, combined with the light weight of the car, makes the 12C incredibly fuel-efficient. The factory where McLaren builds their cars, known as the McLaren Technology Centre, located in Woking, England, is also renowned for its efficiency and ecological consideration.
“Within its segment, this car offers a level of technology that is really unprecedented,” says McLaren’s Managing Director Antony Sheriff in a recent interview with Motor Trend. “When we set out to develop this car, we looked closely at our competitors and, frankly, they’re making astonishingly good cars. So for us at McLaren to enter into this market and make a car that is just as good as them is not worth the effort. We set out to do something that really pushes the envelope much further out. This is a car that has an extraordinary mix of truly exotic performance, technology, incredible ride comfort, and the best fuel economy in its class by a stretch.”
Lake Forest Sportscars is located at 990 North Shore Drive in Lake Bluff. For more information on the McLaren MP4-12C, contact them at 847-295-6560, or visit them online at lfsc.com.