McLaren MP4-12C (2011): the full spec announced

Published: 18 March 2010

CAR is at McLaren HQ in Woking, Berkshire, today to hear the full specification of the new company’s new MP4-12C supercar.Scroll to our video player below for live footage broadcast straight from the event at McLaren Automotive. The video will begin at 10.30am GMT on Thursday 18 March 2010 and we’ll upload the full video for playback as soon as it’s ready.

McLaren F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were on hand to talk about their experiences with the 12C – they drove it hard at Goodwood earlier this month – and you can read their thoughts at the foot of the page. Remembering, of course, that they’re paid by Ron Dennis to say nice things about McLarens.                  

Further details of the McLaren MP4-12C were released today, including some limited performance claims and other information hitherto only speculated about. Highlights include:

McLaren F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have tested the MP4-12C
‘When can I have one,’ asks Lewis as he exits the car
‘It’s soft on the straights and stiffens up for corners’ – Lewis
MP4-12C will be one of a series of high-performance roadgoing McLarens
The one-piece carbonfibre tub – weighing just 80kg – is a world-first on a road car
Price to be below £175,000, on sale early 2011
Dimensions: 4507mm L, 1908mm W, 1199mm H
3.8-litre twin-turbo ‘M838T’ V8 revs to 8500rpm
592bhp @ 7000rpm
442lb ft @ 3000rpm
80% of peak torque available below 2000rpm
CO2 emissions ‘below 300g/km’
Dry kerbweight ‘below 1300kg’ – even with fluids will weigh less than 458 Italia
Front:rear weight distribution 43:57
0-124mph ‘in less than 10sec’
Top speed ‘over 200mph’, still not defined
‘MP4-12C delivers the highest horsepower to CO2 ratio of any car on the market today with an internal combustion engine…and that includes petrol and diesel hybrids’ – Antony Sheriff, McLaren Automotive MD
Brakes with forged aluminium hubs save 8kg –  weigh less than optional carbon ceramic brakes
Engine radiators mounted at the rear, as close to the engine as possible, to minimise pipework and fluids within them
McLaren targeting 4% of the core V8 supercar market, with 1000 sales in first year
This market for junior supercars topped 28,000 in 2007
Seamless Shift Gearbox twin-clutch ‘box has Normal, Sport, Automatic, Launch Control and Winter modes
Pre-Cog acts like auto-focus; a light press on the paddle pre-selects the next gear, banging in with a full press


Lewis Hamilton: ‘I’m excited to see the new car; Ron took me down and showed me an orange car. I’m a huge fan of it already… I drove it at Goodwood on 2 March. We had an amazing time. We weren’t allowed on the track flat-out together, so we couldn’t race properly!’

Jenson Button: ‘We’re some of the lucky few who’ve driven the car before launch. It’s a good experience – it’s tricky to drive a road car on a circuit, you normally don’t get that feeling of good grip. It’s so different to driving on the road. So I had to really remember I wasn’t driving a racing car. In a straight line the 12C is very calm – you move into a corner and it has very good grip. It was a really good experience, nice to be involved in a project like this.’

LH: ‘They took a part out of the video where I said, “Jenson’s going to break it!” We weren’t supposed to be driving flat-out straight away…’

JB: ‘But she’s strong!’

LH: ‘It was great fun. I got on the phone to Ron afterwards and said, “When can I get delivery?” but he hasn’t come back to me yet.’

JB: ‘I normally love three things as a racing driver: power, grip and the look of the car. Those things are done very well on the 12C, but when you talk about a car, you talk about horsepower and torque. It has a lot of that, but it’s a light car which is so important. It has a racing car pedigree – it’s built under the same roof as our racing cars.’

LH: ‘The engine has great power; you don’t hear too much turbo – it’s very smooth. The gearshift is a lot lighter than the F1 car’s. But the click of the paddle and reaction time feels the same. The technology we use under this roof is the same to develop both cars. So many supercars are built around the world, but they’re not set up like F1 teams set up their cars. This car handles like a real car should handle; you can take it to the track or drive it on the road in comfort.’

JB: ‘We should be able to get used to any car we get into. When driving a car you want to feel a part of it, not just like you’re sitting on top of a machine. Visibility is good in the 12C, not that I’m that bothered about this. What’s important when you’re racing wheel to wheel it’s important to know where the edges of the car are.’

LH: ‘The ride quality is very comfortable; in a straight line it’s quite soft, but it stiffens up at high speed. I’m seriously impressed by how much grip there is through corners.’

JB: ‘I’m impressed by how you can balance it on the throttle.’

Ron Dennis: ‘These guys are going to have cars. The question is how much they pay for them – and that depends on how many races they win and how we do in the championship! When Lewis started talking about speccing his car, I was surprised it wasn’t white with chrome wheels!’

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet