McLaren's all-new MP4-12C supercar will be lighter, greener, more efficient and more powerful than both its key rivals, the Ferrari 458 Italia and Mercedes SLS AMG, when it arrives early next year.
The MP4 is now entering its final stages of development – having completed more than one million test miles on five continents – and building work is under way at the McLaren Production Center, where the car will be built from early 2011, although initial production will commence at the McLaren Technology Center later this year.
The MP4 has been given a target price of "less than £175,000" ($267,000), and company boss Ron Dennis has pledged that buyers will not only get the fastest car money can buy, but also the highest build quality and highest level of dealer and after-sales support from any car manufacturer.
Initially 35 dealers will be set up worldwide – whittled down from an initial list of 600. Cars will be available to order in two to three months time, according to McLaren, which said it has already had 1,600 serious expressions of interest in buying the car.
Company Managing Director Anthony Sheriff also stressed that McLaren has no desire to become a volume manufacturer: "We do not want the volumes of our rivals," he said. "We want exclusivity."
The MP4's Ricardo-developed twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter 90-degree V8 engine will rev to 8500rpm, with its maximum 592hp output arriving at 7000rpm. The peak 442lb-ft of torque is available from 3000rpm, although 80 percent is available between 2000-6500rpm. By comparison, the 458 produces 562hp and 398lb-ft and the SLS 563hp and 479lb-ft from their V8 engines.
McLaren says the car will travel from 0-124mph in less than 10 seconds, and stop from 124mph in less than five seconds. It will stop from 100mph in 100ft – or seven car lengths
Power is sent to the rear wheels through a bespoke twin-clutch 7-speed gearbox. Gears are selected using an F1-style aluminum rocker style that pivots off the center of the steering wheel. Normal, sport and track driving modes are selectable within two different customizable configurations. H (Handling) alters the steering weight, stability control and suspension and roll stiffness while P (Powertrain) alters throttle response, engine acoustics and gearshift times and feel.
It uses a carbon composite monocoque to help keep weight to a minimum. McLaren claims the MP4 has a dry weight of less than 1300kg (2.866lbs) and lightweight materials have been used wherever possible to save weight, including the brakes, wiring and bodywork. Even with fluids on board, McLaren says the MP4 will be lighter than the 458 and the SLS.
At 4507mm long, 1908mm wide, 1199mm high and with a wheelbase of 2670mm, the MP4 is smaller than both of its key rivals. Despite this, McLaren claims there will be class-leading interior comfort, function and space. Interior features include a portrait 7-inch touch screen and Wi-Fi.
The two-seater has a 43:57 weight distribution. McLaren says this distribution, rather than a 50:50 one, helps reduce the understeer that's normally associated with mid-engined cars.
Much of the design and development work has been carried out by employees from McLaren's F1 racing team. F1 tech employed includes an electronic differential system, a brake steer system and an air brake that can be employed to increase downforce.
Its design has been aerodynamics-led, meaning the car has undergone extensive development work in McLaren's wind tunnel, its F1 simulator and using CFD. Several electronic systems have also been passed down from the F1 team.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis also reiterated that the McLaren MP4-12C is only the first car in a range that the company plans to build. "This is the first step in a range," he said.