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  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • [ENGINE REVVING]

  • The MP4-12C is quite simply a supercar you could live with

  • every single day of the year, if you wanted to.

  • It's a car with heated seats and dual climate control.

  • And, to be honest with you, the ride

  • comfort of a Rolls Royce.

  • But that last bit's a lie, because the last Roller I rode

  • in didn't ride as well as this supercar.

  • But it's also a car with an automatic gearbox and such

  • good forward visibility, you sometimes wonder if you could

  • see your own feet.

  • But should people drive supercars every day?

  • I mean, don't they lose something when they become

  • comfortable and sanitized?

  • In being so technically capable, is the MP4-12C

  • actually less effective as something to sort of rattle

  • your undergarments when you go for an

  • occasional drive on a Sunday?

  • Because that's what you do in a supercar.

  • Come to think of it, does the world

  • actually need good supercars?

  • Aren't they kind of defined by being a bit rubbish, noisy,

  • hard to see out of, difficult to drive?

  • Is the MP4-12C kind of not a supercar because it is so good

  • at going slowly?

  • Which it is.

  • Do you know what?

  • Judged by those point criteria, the MP4-12C is in no

  • way a real supercar because its dihedral doors open wide

  • for easy access.

  • The boot is a decent size for shopping.

  • And the view behind in these massive mirrors is truly

  • widescreen.

  • It's a wide car.

  • But it's not an intimidating car to drive.

  • Actually.

  • I want to make one proviso there.

  • It's not intimidating to drive.

  • But in one respect, this car does feel like a genuine

  • supercar, even at low speed.

  • And it's the pedal box.

  • Sounds strange, but the petals are quite heavily sprung.

  • They take quite a push, and judging your

  • inputs takes time.

  • I'm not saying it's impossible.

  • But certainly around town, you have to get used to how much

  • throttle you need to make the car creep off the line.

  • And you need to just remember how much

  • brake pressure is required.

  • Because sometimes it doesn't always correlate with what you

  • think you need.

  • It's not difficult.

  • But it keeps you thinking.

  • It's not Nissan Micra that happens to do

  • 200 miles an hour.

  • The other thing that takes a bit of getting used to is the

  • creep in first gear from stationary.

  • I'm in first now.

  • If I let go, the car does get going at quite a rate.

  • In fact, I would say it kind of creeps like a teenage boy

  • outside a girl's dormitory when he's about 14 years old.

  • It's that kind of creep, you know?

  • Unreassuring.

  • But as I said, you get used to it.

  • In the most part, for a car that can literally scare the

  • bejeezus out of grown men, this car is offensively easy

  • to drive at lost speed.

  • [ENGINE REVVING]

  • The MP4-12C to mooch around town.

  • Although you could argue that in terms of disciplines, that

  • was the most difficult thing it had to conquer.

  • Making fast cars go slowly is not easy.

  • But I'm now out on some more open roads.

  • Truly the MP4-12C is not like any other car I'd ever driven.

  • It is strange, fascinating, complex, brilliant,

  • frustrating, all of those adjectives.

  • But most of all, it's unforgettable.

  • The reasons for these freakish qualities.

  • Well, first of all, there's proactive chassis control.

  • As you probably know, the McLaren doesn't have

  • conventional springs and dampers.

  • It does have supports at each corner.

  • But it's hydraulically suspended.

  • So effectively, there's hydraulic fluid

  • linking every corner.

  • So the car is suspended diagonally and sort of

  • vertically.

  • And it means that every single time one of the ECU spots that

  • a corner of the car needs support, it can throw extra

  • support, effectively extra spring rate, at that corner.

  • Does mean that on the road it gives you this

  • incredible flat ride.

  • When I mentioned it riding better than a Rolls Royce, I

  • really do mean that at this sort of speed--

  • 58 miles an hour on an A road-- where a 458, or a 911

  • GT3 would be giggling around, this really isn't.

  • It's just level and flat.

  • And it makes the car incredibly soothing and

  • comfortable.

  • We'll come back to that in a minute.

  • Because do we want our supercars to be comfortable

  • and soothing?

  • Personally, I do.

  • Because it means that you can enjoy this

  • car more of the time.

  • And most of all, you can enjoy it on long journeys.

  • Now, the chassis is kind of infinitely variable.

  • But you can choose three settings.

  • So you can either have it in normal, sport, or track mode.

  • On the road, normal gives you lovely suppleness.

  • Move it into sport, and you just get a

  • little bit more support.

  • And then move it one more time into track, and you get a very

  • firm riding card, which I have to say, isn't

  • necessarily for me.

  • The powertrain is the same.

  • It has three settings, normal, sport, and track.

  • They bring about some big differences.

  • So at the moment, I've got an automatic car.

  • I put my foot down.

  • It kicks down for me and gives me a bit of noise.

  • If I go to sport mode, I then get paddle shift.

  • And I also get a lot more noise.

  • [ENGINE REVVING]

  • This is what's interesting about this car.

  • That's when it changes.

  • [ENGINE REVVING]

  • It's a pretty remarkable powertrain, this.

  • 3.8 liter, twin turbo V8, little under 600 horsepower,

  • 442 foot pounds of torque.

  • And it's insanely fast.

  • 0 to 200 miles an hour in a little over six second, 205

  • flat out, and so much torque.

  • This is fourth gear.

  • [ENGINE REVVING]

  • It just pulls.

  • It has seven gears.

  • It needs about three gears.

  • Remember how there was a geek at everyone's school who one

  • day completely, without warning, left his computer

  • screen, bought a bottle of vodka, and cut loose in the

  • most spectacular fashion imaginable?

  • Well the MP4-12C is just that character.

  • Computer optimized to behave like a family hatchback when

  • it needs to be house-trained.

  • And then, bang, a frothing monster the moment you twiddle

  • a few switches and push that long travel

  • throttle into the carpet.

  • What is the MP4-12C like at my home circuit, Castle Combe?

  • Fast.

  • That's the first word that springs to mind.

  • It's the one that sticks with you a bit as well

  • as you drive it.

  • It's just incredibly fast.

  • I've got the car in track mode now.

  • Less assistance.

  • Revving out seven eight.

  • I mean, that's just immensely fast.

  • In fact, it bears no resemblance to the thing that

  • was quite happily poodling around the

  • center of Bristol yesterday.

  • Listen to that noise!

  • The motor doesn't really feel turbo charged

  • when you're up it.

  • You just pull another gear, gear change into the--

  • bang, snap.

  • And away it goes.

  • It's an animal.

  • It's just so quick.

  • I've got lots more support in track mode.

  • To the right, it's firm.

  • But the car is agile, wants to change direction.

  • But there is one big change about this car over the last

  • time I drove it.

  • Before, you couldn't really turn the systems off.

  • Now you can turn the systems off.

  • And it will do this.

  • But forget skidding around for a minute.

  • It's only when you're barrelling into a turn like

  • tower, third gear a bit too quick.

  • And you feel the assistance moving around, the support

  • chaining on the suspension, the traction control working.

  • So much going on that you think to yourself, hang on a

  • minute, this car can actually warm my ass.

  • It can play beautiful music through its Meridian hi-fi.

  • It can cruise through town.

  • It's only when you're doing this and you try and remember

  • just what can do, its breadth of ability that you realize

  • just how special this car really is.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

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B1 UK supercar revving gear drive engine track

Living With the McLaren MP4-12C - /CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS

  • 157 9
    jeremy Ku posted on 2014/08/22
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