After a decade's hiatus following the McLaren F1, McLaren announced their first self-made production supercar in 2009, the McLaren MP4-12C, which later came to be known as the McLaren 12C. The McLaren 12C is the car we owe for McLaren's masterpieces as it started a design and engineering evolution that was implemented in later models, including current supercars and hypercars. McLaren initially started by testing a co-designed and co-developed 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8. When it came time to use it in the McLaren 12C, it made 616 horsepower, which set it miles beyond what it was meant to compete against. Two good examples are the Ferrari 458 Italia, which produced around 562 horsepower, and the Mercedes SLS AMG, which made 583 horsepower. However, the McLaren 12C was not about horsepower. McLaren designed the car as an absolute track weapon while remaining subtle enough for the road. The 12C's design elements embody functionality, showing a display of McLaren's form following function ethos, and the interior is unlike anything you'd find in a supercar doing 204mph flat out in 2009. The McLaren 12C might not be the car it was in the face of current and recent supercars, but it's very much in every inch one of the best beginner supercars you can buy. Prices average around $100,000, but you can get one within the five-figure price range with enough patience.
McLaren is known for its F1 racing engineering and technologies, and even in the ten-year hiatus they had after producing the McLaren F1 in 1998, the McLaren name was still a force to reckon with on race tracks. The McLaren 12C holds a special place in McLaren's history as it was the first car produced after the automaker's rebranding in 2010 when McLaren Automotive was launched. Early designs had started being circulated across the internet some years before 2010, with engine testing being done at McLaren's headquarters in Woking, England, and in 2011, McLaren unveiled the McLaren MP4-12C. It later became known as the McLaren 12C, with the MP4 (McLaren Project 4) name being omitted. The McLaren 12C features a carbon chassis called MonoCell, which was the first time one was being used in a road-going car. McLaren's main aim of using the carbon chassis, as they still do today, is to reduce weight to the minimum possible. Still, it also gives their cars, in this case, the McLaren 12C, handling and performance advantages. Pioneering the latest technologies at the time, the McLaren 12C was the first car to use McLaren's innovative, proactive Chassis Control System (PCCS), which, according to McLaren engineers, offers excellent ride comfort and sharp and reactive handling.
Behind the McLaren 12C's cabin sits a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8, which, during production, made 592 horsepower and was later increased to 616 horsepower in 2013. Torque remained unchanged at 445 lb.ft through the McLaren 12C's 2-year production run, and the rear wheels put it to the ground via a McLaren-designed 7-speed SSG dual-clutch transmission. The transmission was also updated in 2013, resulting in a crisper throttle response and improved clutch control, enabling smoother and quicker gear changes. The three driving modes, Normal, Sport, and Track, provide a varying transmission feel as part of the powertrain settings. Normal mode is subtle for road driving, while Sport and Track modes enhance the transmission's responsiveness to work with the engine's more punchy response. How fast is the McLaren 12C? 0-60mph should take around 3.1 seconds, and 0-120mph takes 8.8 seconds when launching the car from a standstill. The top speed is 207mph, which is impressive for a supercar made in the early 2010s. But again, the 2010s era produced some of the best supercars and hypercars, and the McLaren 12C is no exception. Thanks to its lightweight construction, the McLaren 12C attained a 24.2 mpg fuel economy. Today, that figure may vary depending on the car's ownership history, so when buying one, maintenance papers should be among the documentation you should ask for. However, due to the car's age, the fuel consumption can be slightly higher, but it should be reasonable.
The McLaren 12C's interior is designed to make the driver as comfortable as possible during on-road driving and on the track. For this reason, it has a superior level of comfort and ergonomic control placement, removing distractions from the steering wheel and dashboard. All controls are strategically positioned on the center console and are easy to reach; thus, you can keep your eyes on the road even when adjusting driving modes. Getting in is the only problem with the McLaren 12C as it has enormous door sills from the carbon tub construction, but once you get into the leather, you forget all that. The seats are comfortable and have excellent shoulder, back, and hip support, which is contributed significantly by their carbon fiber construction. Most McLaren 12Cs have leather interiors, but you can also find one with lightweight Alcantara lines on the dashboard, steering wheel, center console, and door cards. One of the best features of the McLaren 12C's interior is the intake sound generator, which amplifies engine sounds in the cabin. Depending on the selected driving mode, the intake sound generator increases or decreases engine noise, enhancing the driving experience. The noise is loudest when driving in Sport and Track modes and quiet when in Normal mode, keeping the cabin ambiance suitable for every driving situation.
Driven by McLaren's form following function design principles, the design of the McLaren 12C is greatly directed by aerodynamics and engineering innovation. McLaren believed that the 12C would remain contemporary and elegant throughout its lifetime and distinctive among its rivals. Looking at one today, McLaren meant business when they designed the 12C. Every curve of the 12C's sleek body displays the car's intelligent use of airflow. The front end, starting from the A-pillar, slants lower and narrower to enhance aerodynamics and easily pushes air above and underneath the car. The front bumper is designed to direct air to cool the front brakes via the vents at the bottom, and the car's side profile is engineered to push cold air to the radiators on each side of the car through the massive gill-like vents behind the doors. Visibility in the McLaren 12C is exceptional, enabled by the deep and low windscreen, which gives the car a trim and sleek appearance and enhances aerodynamics. McLaren's revolutionary airbrake wing was first used in the McLaren 12C, and it was designed to provide aerodynamics, balancing the front and rear end while adding frag and rear downforce when deployed as the car brakes. All this helps the McLaren 12C maintain stability even in sudden braking conditions at speeds above 59mph.
A tiny but very functional and loaded with features, a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen display sits on the center console in the McLaren 12C. It provides control of some of the vehicle features, such as satellite navigation, and displays driving statistics, in addition to having dual-channel radio and iPod integration. 2013 and newer models got an upgraded Android IT IS infotainment system with web browsing capabilities. Sound output in the McLaren 12C comes from a 4-speaker Meridian sound system, which is decent since it provides a reasonably immersive sound experience. McLaren didn't offer a sound system upgrade during production, so you’ll have to get used to the stock sound system. The driver's seat in all model years is electrically adjustable, which allows you to adjust your seat depending on your favorite driving position or when driving in different driving conditions. For example, a more upright seating position works better when driving on the track as it improves proximity to the steering wheel, leading to better control.
Despite being an older model, it's well worth buying a McLaren 12C today. If you're worried about it being slow, the McLaren 12C is guaranteed to keep up even with new competition. But that's not the main reason why you should buy one. The driving experience you get from a McLaren 12C is unattainable in any car you can buy today for around $100,000. There's also a possibility of finding one below $100,000, and you won't find any other supercar, old or new, listed for that price. You can buy a McLaren MP4-12C through Exotic Car Trader today, and if you can't find a spec that suits you, we guarantee daily listing updates, so ensure you watch out for our McLaren MP4-12C listings. Also, if you have a taste for McLarens, check out our McLaren listings.
Sure, it may have flaws, especially compared to later and more recent supercars, but the McLaren 12C was one of the best. It would shame all its competitors, and it was a car most never expected to be good, especially since it debuted after McLaren's decade-long hiatus. Today, the 12C stands as the car that changed the game for McLaren, and it's more of a test mule that withstood the test of time. As McLaren predicted, it remains contemporary, elegant, and distinctive among its rivals.
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