Posted by Harish KumarSeptember 10, 2009 at 3:02 pm
2009 is shaping up to be quite the year of some hot new supercars! We have been still catching our breath from the stunning Ferrari 458 Italia and now we have the successor to the car that has remained unbeaten for the longest period ever! Yup, The McLaren F1’s successor has finally been revealed in the form of the MP4-12C (sounds like McLaren’s F-1 car doesnt it?). Remember how McLaren and Mercedes played together to produce the beautiful Mercedes McLaren SLR. Both companies have now retired their partnership and are back on their own. Mercedes has it’s SLS Gullwing making its official public debut this week as well! Forget about the economy and recessions, this year will be remembered as one of the closest supercar battles of recent times among supercar enthusiasts!
Priced to compete with the 458 Italia, Aston’s DB9 and the forthcoming SLS Gullwing, the 12C will have its work cut out. It is expected to put out in excess of 600bhp beating all its rivals and taking the game to a higher level. So is the magic of the F1 still there or is this ‘just another’ fancy overpriced ballistic grade supercar?
Lets start with where the McLaren F1 left off. When the F1 came in, it was the ultimate car of its time. It was un-compromised in every aspect and was quite literally the Veyron of its time. The 12C on the other hand is here to redefine supercars in the same way that the 458 is supposed to. It is aerodynamically efficient and boasts of advanced manufacturing methods. The C12 is expected to carry a price tag of around $ 280,000 bang in the middle of Ferrari’s and Lamborghinis (a bit higher than the 458 though). How is this price justified?
The 12C goes back to the F1’s setup of mid-engine rear drive as compared to Mercedes’ front engine rear drive. This time though, the 12C carries a 3.8l Twin-Turbocharged V8 engine (600bhp) as opposed to the naturally aspirated BMW unit on the F1. To give you an idea, the 458 Italia has 560+bhp and the SLS 578! Mclaren have decided to go with a Double clutch gearbox which is the norm these days. McLaren insists that this engine has been made in-house with no involvement of AMG. 12C can hit 60mph in around 3 seconds and hit a top speed in excess of 200mph.
The car, while not as radical looking as the Italia or a Lambo, the 12C’s designer Frank Stephenson says that it was never intended to be. He says in-your-face supercar styling can be “wearing and boorish” and risks becoming dated while “Great design looks relevant years later,”. The car is styled on purpose. The profile is very similar to the F1 with many elements from like the scoops and rear windscreen bear more than a passing resemblance to the F1. It also has a simple smiling face, much like the F430. The pillars have been designed for perfect air flow around them and the radiator inlets are very close to the engine to get rid of complex pipe arrangements. Helping agility is the size of the car that is shorter,narrower and less longer than all its rivals.
We know that carbon fiber forms the main part of all supercar chassis these days but Mclaren have gone one step further. While other supercars sport carbon fiber components bolted together, the 12C has a ‘Monocell’ that is a one piece chassis and weighs in at just 80kgs!!! The chassis took 5 years to develop and is expected to filter down to road cars as well. While the chassis is carbon fiber, the body panels are all made out of aluminum extrusions. Why? Because Mclaren say that there is no considerable weight difference and that using Aluminum saves costs which can be used in other areas.
The 12C has electro-hydraulic rack and pinion steering and rides on double wishbone/coil spring suspension at both ends. Usual aids including ABS, ESP, ASC traction control, electronic brake distribution and hill hold are present with to which Mclaren have added something it pioneered in its F1 cars: brake steer, which applies the inside rear brake as the car corners, to aid turning.
The cabin is simply stunning with simple shapes and loads of panache. Everything from the single central Ac vent to the screen on the center console set it apart. The design is not revolutionary yet it grabs attention by pulling the scruff of your neck. Serious drivers will appreciate the seats that are firm and comfortable, and the dihedral doors slope up and away from the kerb as they open (again F1 style).
On the whole, McLaren’s attempt is very safe and logical. They have not created a car to take on the Veyron but just created one that will be very fast and technologically advanced as per the F1 marquee. McLaren aim to make 1000 of the 12C’s every year and will put their supercar on sale in 2011. So the 458 Italia or the 12C? Which one is your pick?