McLaren MP4-12C Review

McLaren MP4-12C Review

The McLaren MP4-12C is an exotic sports car from the same British company that produced the legendary F1 supercar. A purpose-built two-seater with a midmounted, twin-turbocharged V8, the MP4-12C pushes modern automotive technology to its limits, and the result is a uniquely composed and confidence-inspiring drive relative to other high-dollar speed machines.

Ah yes, dollars. You'll need a whole pile of them to procure an MP4-12C -- expect a bill of $250,000 or more for a new one, with used specimens likely to command strong six-figure prices for the foreseeable future. However, if that kind of entry fee doesn't give you pause, we can't think of any other reason why you shouldn't go buy one right now. The MP4-12C might not yowl like a Ferrari 458 or drop jaws like a Lamborghini Aventador, but it's exceptionally good at just about everything. As long as you don't mind flying under the radar to some extent, this McLaren will reward you with its precision engineering and perfectionist's attention to detail.

Current McLaren MP4-12C Specs
The two-seat, rear-wheel-drive McLaren MP4-12C is offered as a coupe or retractable-hardtop convertible ("Spider"). Standard features include an adaptive suspension, staggered-size alloy wheels (19 inches in front, 20 inches in back), bi-xenon headlights, a 7-inch touchscreen display and a four-speaker Meridian audio system with Bluetooth and iPod/USB integration. But that's just the beginning, as McLaren offers a dizzying array of options, ensuring that no two MP4-12Cs will be alike. Among the highlights are carbon-ceramic brakes, carbon-fiber trim, a variety of interior leather types, a seven-speaker surround-sound audio system, and practically any color scheme you could dream up, including a "Driver Zone" custom color layout for the driver compartment.

When you mat the gas in an MP4, a twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V8 engine answers the bell from directly behind your head. Rated at 616 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, this midmounted masterpiece can launch the McLaren to 60 mph in the low 3-second range. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission handles the shifting duties with exceptional skill; it's one of the few automated manual gearboxes we've tested that has really won our hearts.

Indeed, pretty much everything about the McLaren MP4-12C won our hearts. It's not just that the car turned in an exceptional performance at our test track. No, the clincher here is how approachable this car is, from its easily explored handling limits in corners to its downright civilized ride on city streets. In addition to being one of the fastest cars in the world, the MP4-12C is quite possibly the most daily-drivable supercar ever built. If it's in your price range, take one for a spin, but watch out. Once you get a few miles under your belt, you won't want to give it back.

Used McLaren MP4-12C Models
The McLaren MP4-12C debuted for the 2012 model year in coupe form only, with a slightly less powerful version of the twin-turbo V8. Output was rated at 592 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque.

For 2013, a reprogrammed engine computer swelled the stable to 616 horses, and the retractable-hardtop Spider debuted. Also, the "Intake Sound Generator" system became fully adjustable in all three driving modes; the transmission programming was tweaked for "faster and smoother" shifting (which is hard to imagine based on our experience with the 2012 model); and the original touch sensors for opening the doors were replaced by small physical buttons. Another significant upgrade was the "Vehicle Lift" system, which can raise the car at lower speeds to minimize the risk of scraping expensive carbon-fiber chin spoilers and such.

Notably, some of the 2013 additions, including the horsepower bump and updated transmission map, were offered to 2012 McLaren MP4-12C owners at no cost, so if you're looking at a used first-year MP4-12C, we recommend investigating whether the previous owner took the car back for retrofitting.

McLaren MP4-12C years