Few cars create the kind of sensory overload Ferraris do. The mere mention of them causes hair to stand at its ends while your heart tends to skip a beat. But mention the McLaren F1, and people tend to do reverse backflips, 360 degree turns in their small hatchbacks and generally start blabbering about how the engine bay was lined with gold!
Now, they have another McLaren to go ga-ga about. It's the new MP4-12C, a mid-engined V8 supercar designed to take on the likes of the upcomingFerrari 458 Italia and the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. McLaren, for the first time have gone a bit down the scale to attract a slightly larger audience with its supercars, unlike the F1 and the Mercedes McLaren SLR.
At first impressions, there's a lot of Ferrari to it than one would like to see. The design cues between the F458 and the MP4-12C are too similar and one can't help but draw comparisons. What we like though are those smart scissor doors as well as the great attention to detail to bits like the scoops behind the rear doors or the way the front air-dam has been designed. Any imitation of the F458 might have been pur coincidence, or at least that's what Ron Dennis would have said in an imaginary interview. Blah!
The insides are typically McLaren - not too overdone nor too basic. They find that nice sweet spot which should neither offend nor impress anyone by a mile. It's supposed to be a car for daily use, so a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox comes to the rescue. Rescue here is the right word - how else do you define a 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 that produces 600 bhp and over 61 kgm of peak torque! Okay, it doesn't have an engine bay lined with gold, nor is it the lightest car around (weighing in at around 1200 kg), but think about it, it also has a slippery body shape and a carbon composite tub that weighs just 80 kg.
That means a 0-100 kph team on the naughty side of 3 seconds and a top speed in excess of the magical 320 kph. It also means a wallet that will get empty faster driving it than leaving your girlfriend at a De Beers store. Surely, the experience of a more user friendly, yet devastatingly fast McLaren must have gotten your pulses racing. And as for Ferraris, they need bunkers in Maranello to hide in.