Gavin Green's video diary on the McLaren MP4-12C

Published: 04 July 2011

Never feel sorry for a car company. When they fail, it’s almost always deserved. Take GM and Chrysler. A few years ago they went bankrupt. Yes, the recession floored them and you’ve got to feel sorry for the people who lost their jobs. But why did they fail, when BMW, Volkswagen, Hyundai etc survived (and actually prospered)? Answer: GM and Chrysler cars, in America, were rubbish. They were killed by their own complacency.

Nonetheless, reading the latest UK motor magazines and the succession of Ferrari-beats-McLaren headlines – and this in McLaren’s home market! – I do feel a pang of sympathy for the scions of Surrey. They have launched a great new car. They have beaten some of the best names in the sports car kingdom at their first attempt. Only the best Ferrari of all time has denied them top spot. That’s impressive. In fact, it’s extraordinary. All this from a brand new British car company.

But rather than spraying his workforce with congratulatory champers, Ron Dennis will be venting spleen. McLaren is used to winning. When it doesn’t, drastic action is taken. Heads may already have rolled at Woking. I’ve little doubt the Inquisition has started. Second best is not good enough. Never has been.

But before you cancel your order for that 12C, write to Ron demanding a refund, or decide to put your money down on a 458 instead, let me give 10 good reasons why the 12C may be the better buy:

1. Its forefather was the F1 road car. And you can’t have a better lineage than that. Remember, when McLaren launched the F1, Ferrari was making that plodding horse, the 348
2. In chassis and steering, the 12C edges the 458. And, partly as a result, it’s much more user-friendly on long-haul drives
3. The McLaren is faster. And has more power. And more torque. And accelerates harder. And is lighter. And more economical. And produces less CO2. So you win the golf club or pub test every time.
4. The McLaren has carbon where it matters. Not useless bits of carbon appliqué.
5. The McLaren has full wishbone suspension, like an F1 car. The Ferrari has a multi-link rear suspension. Like a Focus.
6. McLaren doesn’t make a 4x4 estate car
7. You can’t buy silly teddy bears, baby buggies and backpacks with McLaren logos
8. There is no McLaren World ‘theme park’ in Abu Dhabi
9. Senna was much cooler than Schumacher
10. McLaren owners will be more interested in driving than posing

>> Watch Gavin's video diary below. And don't miss the 20-page special in the July 2011 issue of CAR on sale now



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By Gavin Green

Contributor-in-chief, former editor, anti-weight campaigner, voice of experience