McLaren Life banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,330 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
OK, so today I spent over one hour test driving a carbon black MP-4 at Park Place in Dallas. As usual the guys at the dealership were great, and all were obviously knowledgeable about the car (unlike the people in some other dealerships I've visited).
So, after 14 months on the list, what did I think about my first drive? Well, I think I now understand the reactions from the press - the car is schizophrenic; it is so comfortable, quiet, and civilized that first impressions for me were "what's the fuss about, this car is tame?" But then after a while driving and getting more confident, I realized that I was are drving at speeds waaaaay in excess of what my brain was telling me - I was cruising along the 60 mph limit freeway, glanced down at the speedo and saw that I actually was doing 125. That's why all the traffic seemd to be moving backwards! So, as others on this forum have noted, you need to adjust your reference points when driving the MP-4. I think that this explains how Top Gear can initially say the car is only OK, but then award it the Car of the Year (after they've driven it a lot more) - first impressions are highly mis-leading: I reckon an MP-4 driver could take on pretty much any other car, beat them, and not break into a sweat whilst doing it, it is so refined.
The biggest deceiving factor is the ride; even in Track mode, it is only about as stiff as my FGT, but in all modes it does not have the noise/vibration/harshness issues that other supercars generally have; it's so well-damped and smooth. I deliberately drove along the same road as I took in my FGT getting to the dealership (the road was under construction and really beat-up). In the Ford, it was crash bang wallop; in the Mac you could hear the bumps and craters (courtesy of the amplifying effect of the CF tub), but not feel them at all - very impressive.
Regarding engine noise, I know its been tweaked since the car's introduction, but to me it honestly feels a little contrived; very nice in normal mode, but a bit intrusive in sport and track. The engine noise is made more noticeable because of the otherwise quiet interior environment; in my FGT you can hardly hear the engine (except for the supercharger whine) even tho' its only about 2" from your ear. However, you struggle to hold a conversation at speed because of road and tire noise. In the Mac it's so quiet that the only noticeable sound comes out of the engine, and in my view it becomes the focus of your hearing and is too loud. Maybe I'm an old fart tho'
Brakes felt a little wooden when only using them lightly ,but are lovely and progressive when used for 'real' braking. The air brake also adds noticeably to retardation - my Dealer "encouraged" me to really run hard up behind traffic and brake heavily to engage the air brake - wow, very good, and looks cool in the rear-view mirror!
Steering - awesome, terrific feedback and absolute precision.
Transmission is sooo cool. I've not owned a paddle-shift car before(I'm a bit of a Luddite when it comes to clutches and gear levers) so I was a little sceptical about the rocker system. It's great however, very intuitive and absolutely instant. the pre-cog is fun but I'm not sure if it's of any use in the real world. The only issue I found with the transmission was it would occasionally get confused when coming up to a stop-light in normal mode, and would clunk around a bit - but maybe that's what all these double clutchers do?
Build quality was beautiful; the paint is superb and fit of panels excellent. The interior is gorgeous and with fantastic ergonomics: I'm 6' - 4" and fit perfectly. The car I drove was specc'd exactly the same as mine with orange space fabric etc - guess what? I didn't snag my jeans on the fabric, so everyone can relax about longevitiy issues! The only quality problem I found was the real slam that the doors take to shut properly - how long will the A/C controls in the doors last when subjected to all this abuse?
Overall, in my opinion this car will definitely re-write the supercar book as the most usable performance vehicle ever built to-date. I think that the MP-4 will be capable of massive amounts of mileage (I know that's a horrible thing to some supercar folk) because it's so nice to drive and is so comfortable. It will certainly supplant the FGT as my daily driver. In the real world, my main concern will be the ground clearance - I lost count of how often I could hear those funky little plastic aero pieces ahead of the front wheels scraping. I can pretty much guarantee that they'll be ripped off within days if the car is used for daily driving? The only other big problem I have with the car is that my wife also took it out for about 30 minutes and came back smiling - she doesn't drive any of my other vehicles because they're too "hard". I might end up fighting her for the keys to the McLaren!
Couple of pictures attached - the 'F1' car is actually Johnny Rutherford's '72 (I think) Indy car. Now I hope that I can have to have the patience to wait til delivery!
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,955 Posts
Balanced report, thanks. Would not argue about the exhaust. The cabin induction pipes can be removed to make it more 'natural' according to my dealer. You do need a second test drive and third plus fourth to acclimatise!

The waiting is tough, just got my build date confirmed as week 12.
 

·
McLaren Fanatic
Joined
·
3,071 Posts
Enjoying yet another positive review. Certainly wish I had an order in too. :)

The only issue I found with the transmission was it would occasionally get confused when coming up to a stop-light in normal mode, and would clunk around a bit - but maybe that's what all these double clutchers do?
I heard one of the engineers mention that in traffic it is best left in 'Auto' and allowed to do its own thing - maybe that's what you were referring to as "Normal"?

Also, the car will downshift into first automatically when you come to a stop while using the paddles and he said that was better to let it do that than trying to downshift into first on your own with a flick of the paddle.

>8^)
ER
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Great review! I drove the same black car yesterday at Park Place. The guys there are great. Looking forward to getting mine next year!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Driving review

Had my day down at Dunsfold on the top gear track on Tuesday - we had the opportunity to drive on the local roads as well as the Top Gear circuit.

Obviously the amount of driving time was limited, around 60 minutes in total therefore i can only give a limited impression, however I can report that the car is BLOODY BRILLIANT!

Before getting into the argument about comparisons with the 458, my impressions are -

Steering / Suspension / Brakes / Handling - Very linear steering, good feedback and sharp turn in. Very easy to balance with the throttle also and the Brake / Steer system works very well. The track was wet and we cornered at speeds I would not have believed possible. The car remained composed and controllable, when the traction systems did intervene, they were very subtle and I always felt as if I was in control and the car responded to my inputs.

Braking is simply unbelievable, great pedal feel (Ceramic brakes), it was very difficult to get to the point of lock up and have the ABS intervene. I did not get to try steel brakes unfortunately however the test drivers with us advised that unless the car is going to have track use, the standard brakes are more than capable.

The suspension soaks up bumps very well, is very controlled and has no noticeable rebound. In corners, the hydraulics work unnoticed and the car remains completely flat, the loading of each tyre can be easily felt and the suspension communicates clearly when limits are being neared.

Overall, the handling is very neutral, both oversteer and understeer can be controlled by the driver and the amount of correction by the systems can be adjusted using the two dials on the dash that control throttle / engine mapping and Suspension / Traction.

Using the launch control really shows how advanced the electronic systems are, pulling away in the wet and over the painted runway lines was unbelievable - the car shimmied a little but simply launched forwards as if on a dry surface without trauma.

The interior of the car - even on the development cars we were using that had covered 12k miles - is very well executed and well constructed. All controls fall to hand, the readouts are quick to assimilate and the driving position is excellent. The quality of construction and materials used are also of an extremely high standard. Volcano Orange paint suits the car perfectly and the paint quality is also very high (Ferrari take note - it can be done!)

McLaren really have produced an exceptional car. I know many will wish to compare it to a 458, however I believe comparison is unfair. They are very differrent, the 458 is certainly more of an event - noise, looks, involvement particualarly the amount of interaction through the steering.

The MP4-12C is more polished, easy to exploit, more refined / restrained and it works with you more.

From the posts on here I know many have suffered problems with the MP4-12C, I am also frustrated by the delays and now expect delivery during January. I would also say that my 458 has not exactly been a paragon of reliability, and Ferrari could not be described as being helpful in sorting out the problems we have had with the car. The team at McLaren seem really committed to ensuring everything is right with the car and have kept me informed of progress therefore I have great faith that the car will spend more time on the road and less with the dealer.

Roll on January when I can (weather permitting) start to arrange some real comparisons!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,177 Posts
Had my day down at Dunsfold on the top gear track on Tuesday - we had the opportunity to drive on the local roads as well as the Top Gear circuit.

Obviously the amount of driving time was limited, around 60 minutes in total therefore i can only give a limited impression, however I can report that the car is BLOODY BRILLIANT!

Before getting into the argument about comparisons with the 458, my impressions are -

Steering / Suspension / Brakes / Handling - Very linear steering, good feedback and sharp turn in. Very easy to balance with the throttle also and the Brake / Steer system works very well. The track was wet and we cornered at speeds I would not have believed possible. The car remained composed and controllable, when the traction systems did intervene, they were very subtle and I always felt as if I was in control and the car responded to my inputs.

Braking is simply unbelievable, great pedal feel (Ceramic brakes), it was very difficult to get to the point of lock up and have the ABS intervene. I did not get to try steel brakes unfortunately however the test drivers with us advised that unless the car is going to have track use, the standard brakes are more than capable.

The suspension soaks up bumps very well, is very controlled and has no noticeable rebound. In corners, the hydraulics work unnoticed and the car remains completely flat, the loading of each tyre can be easily felt and the suspension communicates clearly when limits are being neared.

Overall, the handling is very neutral, both oversteer and understeer can be controlled by the driver and the amount of correction by the systems can be adjusted using the two dials on the dash that control throttle / engine mapping and Suspension / Traction.

Using the launch control really shows how advanced the electronic systems are, pulling away in the wet and over the painted runway lines was unbelievable - the car shimmied a little but simply launched forwards as if on a dry surface without trauma.

The interior of the car - even on the development cars we were using that had covered 12k miles - is very well executed and well constructed. All controls fall to hand, the readouts are quick to assimilate and the driving position is excellent. The quality of construction and materials used are also of an extremely high standard. Volcano Orange paint suits the car perfectly and the paint quality is also very high (Ferrari take note - it can be done!)

McLaren really have produced an exceptional car. I know many will wish to compare it to a 458, however I believe comparison is unfair. They are very differrent, the 458 is certainly more of an event - noise, looks, involvement particualarly the amount of interaction through the steering.

The MP4-12C is more polished, easy to exploit, more refined / restrained and it works with you more.

From the posts on here I know many have suffered problems with the MP4-12C, I am also frustrated by the delays and now expect delivery during January. I would also say that my 458 has not exactly been a paragon of reliability, and Ferrari could not be described as being helpful in sorting out the problems we have had with the car. The team at McLaren seem really committed to ensuring everything is right with the car and have kept me informed of progress therefore I have great faith that the car will spend more time on the road and less with the dealer.

Roll on January when I can (weather permitting) start to arrange some real comparisons!
Pleased you joined the club PG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,955 Posts
I know many will wish to compare it to a 458, however I believe comparison is unfair. They are very differrent, the 458 is certainly more of an event - noise, looks, involvement particualarly the amount of interaction through the steering.

!

I wonder if this comment hits at the heart of the discontent of the British press?

Their ego's and belief that they are driving experts demand the challenge of the 458 to prove how good they are? Whereas the MP12 needs time and speed to get to know.....maybe the subtleties are missed on short drives!

When I drove the 458 it was an event, no doubt, with a wonderfully responsive engine. But it was not easy, for me, to drive fast on B roads as the width would hinder progress when oncoming traffic appeared but it's only 25mm or so wider than the MP12. The Mclarens driving position is perfect and coupled to the BIG screen makes it easy to position, helped by the brilliant steering. It certainly 'fools' you into thinking it is much smaller than the 458.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,330 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
The Mclarens driving position is perfect and coupled to the BIG screen makes it easy to position, helped by the brilliant steering. It certainly 'fools' you into thinking it is much smaller than the 458.
Great point about the driving position - it feels like the car is rotating around your torso, so accurate positioning is dead easy. I've never felt that in any other car I've driven; even my wife commented on it after her drive
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
600 Posts
Back now driven after upgrade of 8.2 seems the same but then was nothing wrong before BUT I miss Iris :D

No doubt most were non driving things
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
983 Posts
Any updates on when IRIS will become available? Been driving my beater truck lately instead of the Porsche, and must say I dearly miss satnav.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,177 Posts
Back now driven after upgrade of 8.2 seems the same but then was nothing wrong before BUT I miss Iris :D

No doubt most were non driving things
Good news Bruce,im looking forward to the fuel/mileage left available,being from yorkshire i like to judge to it to the last mile:D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
617 Posts
great report Texas
have you already driven an m3 e90/92 before ? i think your feelings would have been very similar

when you push hard that car, the only noise you hear, comes from the v8.

i understand your point of view, i came from a GT3rs and the only question is, Am I going to take so much pleasure with the mp4 ?

(but now let's imagine a track focused version of the mp4, but road legal)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
824 Posts
Advised today that IRIS is scheduled for Q1 2012, but obviously that could be anytime from 1 Jan to 31 March. Hoping the latter, as I want it for free!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
296 Posts
Good report Tex

i too have found the cabin noise from the intake tubes a little bit much, certainly for around town, its not the decibel level of it but just at slow speeds it is a bit deep for my taste. once on the move its no issue. I hadn't thought about it being because everything else is so quiet compared to a normal super car but it makes sense, as i rarely listen to the radio in a super car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Nice driving report, Texas :))

My only question would be : if you would need to make a choice between your midnight blue with stripes Ford GT or the MP4, which one would you choose ? :))

If it were me, I think the FGT stands higher on the desirability list ;-)

Enjoy the holiday season!

Frank
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,330 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
I'm fortunate to be able to have both! The nicest thing about the FGT is that because of its 'blue collar' image, everyone loves it (not true of the prancing pony marque). I think the MP-4 will be similar - those who know the car will really appreciate it, those who don't won't connect it with the 'poseur' crowd but simply see it as a fabulous car. As far as driveability, the Mac wins hands-down; I drive my GT pretty much every day, but have to live with its harshness, poor visibility and impracticality (you have to drive around for ages when parking to find a space wide enough to open its doors fully so you can get out!). However, I absolutely love the Ford because of its relative simplicity - I do all my own maintenance on it, don't think that's going to happen with the Mclaren!
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top