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First, I want to thank all who responded to my post “[FONT=&quot]Another Buying Advice Request” on March 10th[/FONT]. The information in the forum posts as well as the PMs was very helpful to me in my decision making process.

After test driving the 458 and 12C, it was an easy decision to go with the 12C. The price between the two (a 2010 458 and new 12C) was close enough that cost wasn’t a factor. I agree with others that the 12C seemed a generation ahead of the 458. Both have great transmissions and exhaust sounds that are different but equally satisfying to me. Seating comfort was equivalent between the two. I much preferred the look over the hood from the driver’s seat in the 12C and also the overall look of the car. I have always felt the esthetics of the 458 were a real drop down from the F430 which, along with the F360, are darn near pieces of sculpture. If I hadn’t found the look of the 458 so lacking I probably would have traded my 430 in on one some time ago.

A comparison of the 12C to the 458 in the July 2011 issue of Car and Driver really nailed one important difference I noticed between the two cars: “Our main complaint with the Ferrari is that, despite being only 1.1 inches wider than the McLaren, it feels like it’s spilling over both sides of the road. Part of this is the driving position—being seated at the outer edge of the car only heightens the sensation of breadth. Whatever the reason, the 458 feels ungainly on tight roads and anywhere there’s the possibility of oncoming traffic.” I just couldn’t agree more with this. The 12C gives a better sense of where the car is on the road. For those of you who have not read this review it’s a worthwhile read.

I prefer the steering feel of the 12C. The car I drove had all the updates and it felt more powerful than the 458 and had a more nimble feel. Finally, the ride in the 12C in the comfort setting is simply amazing. This is a car you could drive every day, all day in complete comfort and then change a few switch settings and be highly competitive in a track setting.

In one of the posts on this forum I recall a 12C owner stating something along the lines of “I can’t believe I almost bought a 458” Well, I feel pretty much the same way and it was just luck that I happened to start seriously considering one. While I have been aware of the car from its beginning, it was just sort on hanging around in the back of my mind, which leads me to my final comment here and it’s about McLaren’s marketing. As has often been mentioned here, it really is a problem.

To begin with the name, MP4-12C, really is a dreadful start for a company trying to build brand awareness across a much larger market segment than they historically addressed. I feel somewhat certain the name was chosen by engineering types within the company, maybe working with some local PR types, and was not the result of a well researched, thoughtful naming process under the direction of one of the leading international branding/naming consulting firms. The companies that do this type of work really do know what they are doing and they go far beyond just coming up with a name. They will place an overall naming strategy within a broader context of a complete brand building strategy. Companies such as McLaren with historical roots in deep engineering expertise, often have a hard time accepting that such expertise exists and has any substantial value, but for the sake of the future success of the company I hope they seek out such help. This type of branding effort is in addition, of course, to getting a handle on Quality Control and doing all the more obvious, savvy PR type of things like the loaner car to Evo, wining and dining the heck out of the various car magazine writers and pundits, etc.

What a shame it would be if, after producing such a superior product they, in the end, fail because they never really “got” what all the non-engineering tasks are that have to be done to successfully expand their market. The saying “if we build it they will come” works for 106 F1’s but is not sufficient in going against Ferrari, Porsche et al. with a goal of thousands of units a year.
 
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