|The McLaren MP4-12C is revealed as the first in a range of high-performance
sports cars from McLaren Automotive, the independent car division based at
the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England. The 12C, and future
models within the range, will challenge the world’s best sports cars,
benefiting from the expertise and virtuosity of the McLaren Group.Twenty years of sports car design, engineering and production combined
with inspirational success in Formula 1 have driven Ron Dennis, McLaren
Automotive Chairman, to announce his plans for the ultimate line-up of
technology-led and customer-focused performance cars for the 21st century.
The rules in the sports car world are about to be re-written.Through a rich modern history, McLaren’s automotive division has already
built the world’s most critically acclaimed supercar, the McLaren F1
(1993-1998) and the world’s best-selling luxury supercar, the
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (2003-2009). McLaren Automotive now looks to the
future with a new range of revolutionary sports cars.
The heart of the new car is the Carbon MonoCell. McLaren pioneered the use
of carbon composite construction in the 1981 Formula 1 MP4/1 model and set
a trend that all Formula 1 teams have followed. The company brought carbon
fibre to road cars for the first time with the 1993 McLaren F1 and then
built on this experience with a carbon fibre chassis and body on the SLR
manufactured to the same exacting standards, but in higher volumes.
So, until now, carbon chassis have remained the preserve of the most
expensive exotic cars; a purchase for the super-rich where costs are
driven by the complexity of carbon fibre chassis design and build.
The 12C changes this by introducing the advantages of carbon composite –
light weight, high strength and torsional rigidity, and longevity – to a
more affordable sector through its revolutionary engineering as a
one-piece molding. Never before has a carbon fibre chassis been produced
The 12C MonoCell not only brings dynamic benefits, but also offers
fundamental engineering opportunities that form the basis of the car’s
unique character. It has been designed to allow a much narrower structure
overall which in turn contributes to a more compact car that is easier to
position on the road and more rewarding to drive.
Not only is the 12C unique in its class by offering carbon technology, it
also has the highest specific power output as well as extraordinary power-
and torque-to-weight ratios. Furthermore, the Proactive Chassis Control
system offers groundbreaking handling and ride comfort while an intense
focus on occupant packaging offers new levels of comfort and everyday
All the parts of the McLaren MP4-12C are bespoke and unique to this car.
Everything from the engine right down to the tailor-made switches and
buttons is pure McLaren: nothing has come from another manufacturer’s
The 12C is powered by a bespoke McLaren ‘M838T’ 3.8 litre, V8 twin-turbo
engine producing around 600bhp, driving through a McLaren seven speed
Seamless Shift dual clutch gearbox (SSG). It is targeting not only new
standards for power and performance in its sector, but also class-leading
fuel economy and CO2 emissions; supported by McLaren’s experience of
active aerodynamics to aid cooling, grip, handling and road holding.
Thorough engineering and market research led to concept development and a
clear decision in favor of a mid-engined two door high performance sports
car. Intensive work was carried out in the wind tunnel and the driving
simulator to ensure that the new car would inherently have superb dynamic
Weight is the enemy of performance in every area of car design. It affects
acceleration, speed, handling, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions –
everything. McLaren Automotive engineers pursued weight saving
The McLaren MP4-12C design follows similar principles to McLaren’s Formula
1 cars, and the legendary McLaren F1, where everything is for a reason and
all lines, surfaces, and details are designed with a job in mind as much
as styled. This ensures that the 12C communicates its engineering through
its styling and will remain timeless as a piece of automotive design.
The 12C’s body has been styled to support sector-leading levels of down-
force; down- force that then subsequently contributes to sector-leading
levels of lateral grip and stability. Air flow has been manically managed
to support all performance figures and light weight targets. For example,
placing the radiators adjacent to the engine keeps the car narrow and
reduces weight. However, this results in a huge challenge of ensuring
ample air flow to the radiators. The result? The large side air scoops and
integrated turning vanes that are dramatic, but purely functional. No
larger or smaller than required.
The designer’s challenge is to then take that styling purpose driven by
engineering aspirations and add personality. That’s why the air scoops
resemble the McLaren logo in form, as do other features around the car.
Just two ‘pure’ lines flow round the car and, when combined with the
integration of several dramatic convex and concave surfaces, present a car
that looks compact, low and well proportioned.
The market for high performance sports cars has grown substantially since
the turn of the century. McLaren divides the market into segments that
encompass both more comfort-orientated GT cars and the hard-edged
supercars for road and track use.
The ‘core’ segment runs from around £125,000 to £175,000 featuring such
cars as the Ferrari 458, Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche 911 Turbo, Bentley
Continental GT and Aston Martin DB9. A second segment is the ‘high’
category with prices ranging from £175,000 to £250,000 and consists
largely of front-engined GT cars such as Ferrari’s 599 GTB and 612, with
just one mid-engined contender, the Lamborghini Murcielago.
The final segment is the ‘ultimate’ group, a sector more or less initiated
by the McLaren F1 in 1993 and now populated by a select group of cars
including the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, Bugatti Veyron, and cars from the
likes of Pagani and Koenigsegg that followed legends such as the Porsche Carrera GT and Ferrari Enzo. In 2011, McLaren will bring technology and performance exclusive to this ‘ultimate’ sector into the ‘core’ segment.
McLaren Automotive will distribute the 12C and future models through a
brand-new retail network in all global markets. Exclusivity, exquisite
design and a passionate focus on delivering a wonderful ownership
experience will ensure that the small number of retailers around the world
are taking on an attractive new brand. This approach will drive excellent
customer service and a virtuous circle that retains McLaren customers and
brings in new converts as the range expands.
The name of the new McLaren sports car is MP4-12C. What does this signify?
As one might expect at McLaren, everything has a purpose and the
nomenclature is no exception.
– ‘MP4′ has been the chassis designation for all McLaren Formula 1 cars
since 1981. It stands for McLaren Project 4, resulting from the merger of
Ron Dennis’ Project 4 organization with McLaren.
– The ’12’ refers to McLaren’s internal Vehicle Performance Index through
which it rates key performance criteria both for competitors and for its
own cars. The criteria combine power, weight, emissions, and aerodynamic
efficiency. The coalition of all these values delivers an overall
performance index that has been used as a benchmark throughout the car’s
– The ‘C’ refers to Carbon, highlighting the unique application of carbon
fibre technology to the future range of McLaren sports cars.
The elements of this name represent everything that the McLaren MP4-12C
– ‘MP4′ represents the racing bloodline
– ’12’ represents the focus on complete performance and efficiency
– ‘C’ represents the revolutionary Carbon MonoCell