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Andy c . Assume you have the invite and look forwards to your comments. All I have received this year is an invite to The Wedding, doh....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
going tuesday. Cant wait
Great,who are you going with?? i guessed london weds,manchester thursday and birmingham friday,got that wrong! im off thursday,looking forward to your opinion as tuesday is wet and thursday sunny so we will should have every view
 

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keep us posted!!
 

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I am due down there on Wednesday morning, can't wait
Great,who are you going with?? i guessed london weds,manchester thursday and birmingham friday,got that wrong! im off thursday,looking forward to your opinion as tuesday is wet and thursday sunny so we will should have every view
 

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Looking forward to hearing everyones first impression. I need to find out if the U.S. division is planning anything like this.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
going tuesday. Cant wait
GT are you having a private viewing for VIP,s as mclaren have told me they are not at dunsfold today,they are there wednesday for the London dealership,sorry for the confusion if you are somewhere else???
If they are having a european day,which of the european dealers are you going to use for your lhd car?
 

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So had the chance (and privilege) to drive the car at and around dunsfold today. Did a drive for about 15 mins on local (pretty bad) B roads and then about 10-15 laps on the Top Gear circuit (yes the actual circuit!) at all modes. Will probably end up writing more later on but main points;

- indeed on city/traffic/potholes/DD mode the car is much better than competition. That does not mean that the car feels like an Merc E Class (it doesn't and it really shouldn't anyway) but you can go over potholes and not feel the usual jerk, boom, paf etc that is associated with F cars and GT porsche models. I think the expectations are probably set a bit too high on that it is going to feel like an executive saloon etc and that is unfair as you can still hear the engine note (as you should be in a car like this) and you are sitting on a sport seat, pretty low etc etc. So people should expect the best ride quality possible in a SPORTS CAR (not a Lexus).
- Overall the suspension setup is obviously pretty clever as you can tell in N mode that there is plenty of roll for a car like this but beyond a certain turn angle it is as if a sway bar magically appears and suddenly keeps roll in check.
- On normal and track mode you can feel no roll and the only feeling i got is that of a very stiff and efficient chassis, with equally stiff suspension (see hydraulic system) but also bushes everywhere instead of usual rose joints or monoballs. The result is very efficient cornering ability with very good NVH characteristics. If anything one could even consider remove some of those elastomer bushes to get a bit more "feel".. but i guess that could be pretty pointless in terms of efficiency. Very well thought out indeed.
- Grip is very good for such a car. Was driving on beaten-up P zeros which offer nth like the grip of the corsas, especially on a damp day like today. Got some wheelspin on cold tires on 2nd which is normal but the traction on the exit of a corner is very good, esp for a 2 wheel drive car.

Engine
- Was quite interested to see how it would feel to me, since i currently drive a car with a lot more torque/hp. Pleasant surprise there as the feeling of acceleration is quite good for the quoted power numbers and it genuinely feels like it has more torque than 600NM. Top end power is good too with an effective power band of 5k rpm! This, together with the fast gearbox/weight, must be the reason for the ground breaking perf figures that mclaren has announced.
- Exhaust note. Personally i like it. It is not high pitch like the F or loud like the L cars obviously but its loud enough and purposeful. I am interested in the sports exhaust and at some point i was wondering whether its really necessary..
- Gearbox. Being a manual fan i was also quite worried i would not like the paddleshift but i think mclaren did a good job with this rocker system as it has mechanical feel that really makes you feel involved in the whole process a lot more than other dual-clutch systems. I remember that the downshifts in N mode don't have the "drama" blips of a scuderia or GTO but on track mode they were quick and fun. Upshifts are pretty instantaneous, and so are downshift if you engage the precog system. Basically the reason why Clarkson DID NOT like the paddles is the reason why I LIKED THEM! They feel like you are actually doing sth! If one is lazy then they can put it in auto mode. (did not even try that to be honest)

Handling
- Feels like a light car with a lot of power and good traction, which is obviously a very good thing! You can carry insane speeds at wot on those 4th gear corners at Dunsfold (I think I scared a bit the person next to me.. so he did the same to me on few hot laps at the end!). Was worried about the absence of LSD but the brake steer works well on those tight corners when you come in pretty fast. Tried all modes and obviously the track mode is by far the most fun as it allows you to really place the car on medium and fast corners beyond the limit of traction. And at those moments you get to see the balance of the car; it just holds the line - even when sliding at over 100mls/hr, and just digs in and goes.. I was just trying to imagine how it would be with a new set of Corsas and no passenger next to me.! (yes 80+kgs do a make a difference at those conditions).
On the tight 2nd gear corners though the ESP was interfering, i would rather take it off completely for track use. (yes it is possible but could not try it)
I think that the chassis is definitely capable of taking more power/torque as it really did not get out of shape (and i tried hard!)
- Steering is a tad slow, i would say medium in terms of directness compared with a 458 or GT3. There was a reason for that, as most people would probably prefer that setup as it is less "scary" and definitely safer. I for one would prefer it to be a tad faster..

- Brakes. Only drove the ceramics, stopping power is very very good, even compared to the PCCBs. Never seemed to get tired. Stopping power at the end of the straight was only limited to the tires and the car was always very balanced on the brakes. The weight makes a big difference here. I think with grippier tires the stopping power would be even more impressive.

- Car presence is more understated than say a ferrari 458 or 599GTO but i guess that was the purpose of mclaren anyway. I toured the production line and saw most colour/ interior combinations and I think that with a careful selection of colours/ carbon bits etc one can get closer to this "italian supercar" feeling that some might claim that this car may be missing. I for one saw the combination that i like that I think looks stunning without shouting too much.

Verdict- absent any force majeure events, I think I might be getting one!
 

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Thanks for the update. Sounds like they let you give it a good drive.
 

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Thanks for you comments, great review & good to get some real world opinion, especially the honest review of the ride, I guess the journos got a little carried away over comparison with cars in this segment & wrongly compared it to sedan like ride. Good point to not expect too much.

I like your point of it feels like a 'light car', I have a Scuderia & that is something that is very appealing to me and why I didn't jump at 458.

All your points tend to concur with all the journo reviews to date, so I am pleased. A question.... do you think it could be an every day car or more than just a weekend car? I am keen to have a car that can be a more than weekend drive & closer to every day, being a little more understated also helps for me in this case.

Can't wait to see it in the flesh, sadly not till next month here in Australia, and more importantly drive it, sadly not until 4th quarter this year, this ultimately will make the final decision for me.

I guess the only advantage of the longer wait.... the early gremlins should be sorted & more real world reviews from owners.
 

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Thanks for the great review. Can't wait for mine and unfortunately have to wait for the dealer to get his demo in early May before I get to drive one :(
 

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GT-TT. Helpful review and no surprises. Were the Turbos noticeable with lag or noise?

Out of interest what colour and interior combination will you choose and or see as understated?
 

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Some further thoughts

So was thinking about the brief encounter yesterday with the car, was waiting for a long time for a test drive so there was too much to take in during those 30-40 mins in total I got to drive it.
Firstly to answer some of the questions above if I may, there is no turbo noise as such. You get induction noise (esp in track mode where that system transfers the noise in the cabin) and then its exhaust/engine noises. So all in all think sth between an AMG type grunt (a bit more high pitch) and a ferrari screaming at 8k rpm. Very small turbo lag, also response is good, not very sudden. I would actually like even quicker throttle response as well as steering, but all that is personal preferance.
Second, yes the car is a daily driver, as it can be driven slow at crap roads. You can probably go shopping, go to long trips or.. to the theatre in this. No bad visibility, long nose to negotiate parking or u-turns, wide track for small roads etc etc.
And yes it handles better than a scud (an scud owner immediately told me this after his test drive) and it is waaaay faster. Also as he said, it is a hell of a lot easier at and beyond the limit, at a damp slippery airfield track with normal P Zeros (not R compount). But also more comfortable and less noisy.. With the scud you are forced to be in huper mode all the time, even at 30 kms/hr, here you get both. Pretty much what all journalists and mclaren marketing material have described.

So I was thinking about yesterday and was trying to find what i did not like. Well one has to admit that yesterday's drive conditions pretty much epitomised the usual downfalls of most sportscars. On crappy B roads at 40mph a performance car jitters, makes funny noises on pot holes etc, it just does not feel right. Also at the limit on a racetrack you almost ALWAYS get some (if not all) of the following; roll, squat under braking, braking fade, understeer, snap oversteer on exit under power, component fatigue etc. To be fair yesterday i did not get any of those.. And i am not comparing my observations to a standard 911tt or ferrari etc. I spend a lot of $$ and effort to improve the above on my car at the detriment of NVH/ noise/comfort and finally got to something that I liked. Well this car did it better to be honest.
And we did not get to drive it on the conditions that most other sports cars thrive on; highway with long corners, or mountain roads with smooth series of corners etc. Only tried it in the worst conditions that traditionally expose a car built for performance.
So why some people think that there is sth missing? Well after a long thought my opinion is that the answer is maybe somewhere in the above lines. Usually people are used to compromises; a 430 ferrari makes silly noises at a traffic light and jitters on crap roads but feels great on that perfect road. The 911tt feels better at slow driving and is much quicker and safe up to 8/10s but.. does not feel like a 599GTO or scud when you downshift or corner it on that perfect ride. The GT3RS is fantastic on that perfect road but is maybe too harsh on the bad roads, has a roll cage and that wing! (and imo lacks power and torque).
Here they tried to give it all at the same package. Its not italian, german or even a british kit car (see Noble or TVR). Its a combination I guess of what they liked in all of them without the theatrical performance of the ferrari and lambo - no the italian cars dont need to sound like they do when you drive slowly, or when you downshift. And no they dont have to transfer the engine vibrations in the cabin- these are all features designed on purpose to make you feel like a F1 driver when going slowly. They dont add performance or usability.
And that is maybe what confuses people?:confused:
I think the hopefully objective comparisons coming up on magasine reviews will be very interesting..

PS. I think i ll go with titanium silver (ceramics with orange calipers ) with most carbon options -except vanes- with a black/ carbon interior with orange stiching. You can get more exclusive effect with alcantara and some other dual colour combos, also the orange, black and red (especially) looked really nice imo but not for my intended use.
 

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GT-TT. Thanks for the additional input. You have verbalised the differences between the 12C and the alternatives very well.

To an extent idiosyncrasies become 'character' in some cars, particularly the 911 and some Ferrari's, and for me you are saying the 12C is built for purpose and is very Ron Dennis in execution.......pretty competent across a wide range of uses AND a performance car. There you are, they are getting to me now!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
i am going through another european market as i am thinking of a lhd car. Full report tomorrow evening (hopefully!)
Now i understand,the event for the week was for the whole of europe,so london was for today,but as you are buying a lhd car you were invited with the overseas dealerships on tuesday,nice detailed review,i will hope to get some pictures tommorow for everyone
 
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