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Getting intimate with the McLaren MP4-12C

The McLaren MP4-12C is a sports car designed and manufactured by McLaren Automotive. The car’s final design was unveiled on 8 September 2009, and it is set to be launched in 2011.

The MP4-12C will feature a carbon fibre composite chassis, and will be powered by a mid-mounted McLaren M838T 3.8-litre V8 twin-turbo engine developing circa 600 bhp (447 kW; 608 PS) and around 443 lb·ft (601 N·m) of torque. The car will make use of Formula 1-sourced technologies such as “brake steer”, where the inside rear wheel is braked during fast cornering to reduce understeer. Power will be transmitted to the wheels through a 7-speed Seamless Shift dual-clutch gearbox equipped with “Pre-Cog”, which allows the driver to pre-select the next gear by half-pulling the paddle shifter behind the steering wheel, which allows the transmission to execute faster gear changes.

As with the McLaren F1, carbon fibre (Carbon MonoCell) is used extensively in the vehicle to minimize weight. The MP4-12C will weigh only 1,300 kg (2,866 lb) dry. The chassis is based around an F1 style one-piece carbon fibre tub, weighing only 80 kg (176 lb).

The MP4-12C packs a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 mounted amidships, with 600 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque delivered to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. And this isn’t an off-the-shelf drivetrain from another automaker – the entire car, from the engine to the window controls has been developed in-house. The result is a 2,800-pound exotic that – on paper – has the potential to rule the segment.

Other interesting tidbits: You can option the 12C with a three-camera video recording system to document your on-track antics. Carbon composite brakes are optional, but unless you’re heading to the track every weekend, the steel units are said to stop the 12C in the same distance (and don’t squeal). Three wheel options are available – forged, lightweight forged or ultra-lightweight – the latter of which came into being after McLaren execs told the engineering team to just design the lightest wheel possible – they didn’t care what it looked like.

The MP4-12C will be sold at a price between £125,000-175,000 in the United Kingdom.

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