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Discussion Starter #1
I test drove both 12Cs at LFSC yesterday. They have a McLaren Orange car with CCB and a black car (not sure which black, but not Fire Black) with iron brakes. Both have the sports exhaust. I have really mixed feelings about the car. One one hand I know that it is fantastically, astoundingly capable and fast. But on the other hand I am inclined to agree with the magazine reviews.

The car is emphatically a road car and not a track car. This is not to say that it won't blow away all competitors on the track, because it will, but the feeling you get is one of refinement and not one of a raw missile. I have some 40 track days in my Exige and the 12C is really the polar opposite of that. Where the Exige is loud and demands your attention lest it spit you out backwards, the 12C is refined, smooth, and extremely easy to handle. The suspension is astonishingly good - you go around corners absolutely flat yet bumps in the pavement are totally suppressed in Normal mode and passed through just enough to be felt in Track mode. It is the best suspension I've ever experienced - tighter and smoother than a Gallardo, an Evora, a 911 Turbo, a Cayman S, an F430. Frankly it's hard to imagine it getting any better.

My concern is that the 12C is too good and too drama free. Certainly it is blisteringly fast, but I worry it won't be fun. I've spent a lot of time on the track in my Exige, but I've also driven a ZR1 and a Carrera GT there. I would definitely have the CGT over my Exige, but I fear that I might prefer the Exige over the 12C. When I go over the alligators in the Exige, I know I've hit them because the entire cabin shakes and I start to lose the rear end. But I wonder if the 12C will filter a lot of the bumps out. As for the rear end, I did manage to break the 12C free a bit on my test drive and found it to be very well balanced and controllable for the moment of oversteer I got into - although certainly I'll need to be on the track to get a full sense for that.

In some respects the 12C reminds me of an ideal Aston Martin or of a much faster Evora. It is extremely fast, yes, but it is refined and composed first and foremost. Sadly that does take away from the drama and the fun somewhat. I wonder if watching the scenery blow by at Mach 1 would add that drama back. To some extent, it does.

The steering feel is about perfect. I can see a case for it being heavier, but I find it is far superior to the F430 (I haven't driven the 458) and not too far off from the Exige. The steering is tight but controllable and easily centered. I found the F430 somewhat twitchy where the 12C is rock solid. The ratio on the 12C seems a bit faster than the F430. I mentioned the carbon ceramic vs. iron brakes in the other thread. Suffice to say the feel/modulation of the carbon brakes on the 12C are equivalent to the iron brakes. Visibility out the back is useless, but that's OK because I'm used to not having a rear window in the Exige. Visibility out the front is excellent - perhaps better than the Exige and far better than the F430 or 458. Side mirrors are almost too big.

On the sports exhaust, I thought it was somewhat intrusive in the cabin given the road-going tilt of the car. It definitely sounds like a rumbling / gravelly American V8. On Track mode the sound was just starting to get to the point where I had to raise my conversation volume. I prefer a higher pitched F1 style whine, although I've only heard the Enzo reach my ideal - thus, since the exhaust sound doesn't really excite me, I'll definitely order a standard exhaust.

I wish there was a setting on the 12C that made it less good. I thought the Normal / Sport / Track settings for the powertrain were about perfect (minus the rather artificial change in cabin engine noise), but I wish there were more variation in the suspension settings. While the Track setting will keep the car absolutely flat in the corners while still filtering out nearly all of the bumps, I wish it would transmit every pebble, crack, and crease in the pavement into the cabin. Then, perhaps, it would be as exciting as my Lotus on the track. The isolation of the suspension, its speed and comfort makes it perhaps the perfect road car. But then the question becomes, what's the point of going 0-60 in 3 seconds on a public road? Would I enjoy cruising along at 50 mph in an Jag E Type more?

I guess the problem is, McLaren really has made an everyday supercar, but do I really want to make this my daily driver? Certainly it'd be a lot of fun, but I worry about the depreciation, and people hitting me when parked, and the lack of cargo room... Perhaps I should just stop worrying and drive the damn thing. :)
 

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I test drove both 12Cs at LFSC yesterday. They have a McLaren Orange car with CCB and a black car (not sure which black, but not Fire Black) with iron brakes. Both have the sports exhaust. I have really mixed feelings about the car. One one hand I know that it is fantastically, astoundingly capable and fast. But on the other hand I am inclined to agree with the magazine reviews.

The car is emphatically a road car and not a track car. This is not to say that it won't blow away all competitors on the track, because it will, but the feeling you get is one of refinement and not one of a raw missile. I have some 40 track days in my Exige and the 12C is really the polar opposite of that. Where the Exige is loud and demands your attention lest it spit you out backwards, the 12C is refined, smooth, and extremely easy to handle. The suspension is astonishingly good - you go around corners absolutely flat yet bumps in the pavement are totally suppressed in Normal mode and passed through just enough to be felt in Track mode. It is the best suspension I've ever experienced - tighter and smoother than a Gallardo, an Evora, a 911 Turbo, a Cayman S, an F430. Frankly it's hard to imagine it getting any better.

My concern is that the 12C is too good and too drama free. Certainly it is blisteringly fast, but I worry it won't be fun. I've spent a lot of time on the track in my Exige, but I've also driven a ZR1 and a Carrera GT there. I would definitely have the CGT over my Exige, but I fear that I might prefer the Exige over the 12C. When I go over the alligators in the Exige, I know I've hit them because the entire cabin shakes and I start to lose the rear end. But I wonder if the 12C will filter a lot of the bumps out. As for the rear end, I did manage to break the 12C free a bit on my test drive and found it to be very well balanced and controllable for the moment of oversteer I got into - although certainly I'll need to be on the track to get a full sense for that.

In some respects the 12C reminds me of an ideal Aston Martin or of a much faster Evora. It is extremely fast, yes, but it is refined and composed first and foremost. Sadly that does take away from the drama and the fun somewhat. I wonder if watching the scenery blow by at Mach 1 would add that drama back. To some extent, it does.

The steering feel is about perfect. I can see a case for it being heavier, but I find it is far superior to the F430 (I haven't driven the 458) and not too far off from the Exige. The steering is tight but controllable and easily centered. I found the F430 somewhat twitchy where the 12C is rock solid. The ratio on the 12C seems a bit faster than the F430. I mentioned the carbon ceramic vs. iron brakes in the other thread. Suffice to say the feel/modulation of the carbon brakes on the 12C are equivalent to the iron brakes. Visibility out the back is useless, but that's OK because I'm used to not having a rear window in the Exige. Visibility out the front is excellent - perhaps better than the Exige and far better than the F430 or 458. Side mirrors are almost too big.

On the sports exhaust, I thought it was somewhat intrusive in the cabin given the road-going tilt of the car. It definitely sounds like a rumbling / gravelly American V8. On Track mode the sound was just starting to get to the point where I had to raise my conversation volume. I prefer a higher pitched F1 style whine, although I've only heard the Enzo reach my ideal - thus, since the exhaust sound doesn't really excite me, I'll definitely order a standard exhaust.

I wish there was a setting on the 12C that made it less good. I thought the Normal / Sport / Track settings for the powertrain were about perfect (minus the rather artificial change in cabin engine noise), but I wish there were more variation in the suspension settings. While the Track setting will keep the car absolutely flat in the corners while still filtering out nearly all of the bumps, I wish it would transmit every pebble, crack, and crease in the pavement into the cabin. Then, perhaps, it would be as exciting as my Lotus on the track. The isolation of the suspension, its speed and comfort makes it perhaps the perfect road car. But then the question becomes, what's the point of going 0-60 in 3 seconds on a public road? Would I enjoy cruising along at 50 mph in an Jag E Type more?

I guess the problem is, McLaren really has made an everyday supercar, but do I really want to make this my daily driver? Certainly it'd be a lot of fun, but I worry about the depreciation, and people hitting me when parked, and the lack of cargo room... Perhaps I should just stop worrying and drive the damn thing. :)
An interesting point of view,only a small querie about your drive,the rear view?? i was more than surprised with the visability out the back,almost 90% of what i get out of my 997,which by supercar standards is fantastic,i am of average height,(well ok a bit below) and the mirror ajustment was easy to get a full view.The car will never need a rear view camera in my opinion
 

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I must admit I didn't spend a lot of them assessing the rear view as I've been trained by the Exige to use side mirrors only (even in my 3 series), but it seemed more restricted than both the F430 and the Evora. I don't really have any other supercar references.

Oh, I should also add that the torque is fantastic just about everywhere. Very unlike the F430 which is plain boring below 4-5k revs.

And finally it took me about 10 tries before I could reliably get the doors to open. The proper procedure practically requires rubbing the car. They should really increase the sensitivity on the sensor as you should only have the door unlocked when you're about to enter anyhow. I imagine nobody will ever steal the car as they won't be able to get in.



I wish you had driven a 458 that would have made your excellent analysis more complete ! I absolutely agree with your analysis but not the conclusions thereof!:D
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Ritesh said:
Great review Choatie. I drove it this past wknd and agree. Though I am still on a high from the mind bending acceleration.
I agree, the 12C is one of the few cars that have made my eyeballs hurt from acceleration. The other 2 being the CGT and the ZR1, and those two in much warmer weather.

I wish you had driven a 458 that would have made your excellent analysis more complete ! I absolutely agree with your analysis but not the conclusions thereof!:D
Well, sadly LFSC doesn't have any 458s around for test drives! They actually bought both US press cars and sold those too. I will try to get a 458 test drive in at some point.

Also, perhaps the police are less eager to throw supercar owners in jail in Essex...
 

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choatie88. Thanks for the post which makes sense to me and my reaction was the same. However subsequent rides and drives helped me warm to the cars traits as a little familiarity helped me adjust. The speed, steering and roadholding started to engage me with each drive.

There is no doubt that a 911, for me, has character in bucket loads but I think the flat six and it's harmonics sway me.

But the V8 rumble has it's own signature, just wish it was more like the turbo Merc SLS which is like thunder, but it isn't so I will like what it is!
 

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I have to disagree with you, why wouldn't you want a car that rips off the line and does 0-60 in 3 seconds? How often will it really be used on the track, less than 1%. The 12c needs 100 more hp to really show it's true colors and make it more fun to drive. May sound crazy but the car is just that capable and needs the extra power to make it shine.
 

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I have to disagree with you, why wouldn't you want a car that rips off the line and does 0-60 in 3 seconds? How often will it really be used on the track, less than 1%. The 12c needs 100 more hp to really show it's true colors and make it more fun to drive. May sound crazy but the car is just that capable and needs the extra power to make it shine.
The car needs 100hp more to make it more fun? Does it lack outright speed somehow?
 

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But the V8 rumble has it's own signature, just wish it was more like the turbo Merc SLS which is like thunder, but it isn't so I will like what it is!
Surely you don't mean the SLS AMG, whose normally aspirated 6.2L is the King of normally aspirated V8s? (well along with Audi's 4.2!)

Or did you mean the new Merc 5.5L Biturbo?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I think what he means is that with 700 hp, the car's outright traction and handling capabilities would be more easily overwhelmed.
I guess, but I think overwhelming those capabilities on public roads is extremely irresponsible. That's what the track is for - and that's why I'm so conflicted about the 12C.
 

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I guess, but I think overwhelming those capabilities on public roads is extremely irresponsible. That's what the track is for - and that's why I'm so conflicted about the 12C.
I read your original post, which I thought was a very sensible and honest opinion, by the way. That said, I'm still not entirely sure for what you are looking? I can think of many cars that might better fit your criteria (or at least what I think are your criteria). For example, why not pick up a 360 Challenge Stradale? They are a steal right now and in my opinion offer one of the most raw experiences you can get in a paddle-shift Ferrari. The sound is the best of the Ferrari V8s, too, in my opinion.

Or what about the new Exige S? You can't really get the Lotus feel in a full size supercar, in my opinion. And I say that as someboy who has thousands of track miles in an Exige Cup. The things are so small and light, they make everything else feel sluggish.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I read your original post, which I thought was a very sensible and honest opinion, by the way. That said, I'm still not entirely sure for what you are looking? I can think of many cars that might better fit your criteria (or at least what I think are your criteria). For example, why not pick up a 360 Challenge Stradale? They are a steal right now and in my opinion offer one of the most raw experiences you can get in a paddle-shift Ferrari. The sound is the best of the Ferrari V8s, too, in my opinion.

Or what about the new Exige S? You can't really get the Lotus feel in a full size supercar, in my opinion. And I say that as someboy who has thousands of track miles in an Exige Cup. The things are so small and light, they make everything else feel sluggish.
Yeah, that's the problem. I don't really know what I want either. I wonder if I'd be happy with a Vantage to be honest, although it didn't excite me when I drove it.

If the new Exige S V6 comes to the US I'll definitely be all over that.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yes, this might make it more fun on a public road, in the way in which manslaughter case is fun in court.
Yeah, I am very paranoid as where I live (Chicago, IL) the speed limits are artificially low (40mph on a 8-lane highway!) and 30mph over is an automatic reckless driving offense. They actually changed the laws last year so that 30mph over now can carry jail time. 40mph over now cannot be dismissed by the court.

So perhaps that explains why I'm not sure where the 12C fits into my life...
 

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Yes, this might make it more fun on a public road, in the way in which manslaughter case is fun in court.
It all depends where you live in the world,we all want more power,and a month ago 600hp was not quite enough,(i know,but you do get used to it),but now in the greasy british autum everytime i hit the loud pedal hard its very,well its VERY.But so controlled ive not had to use opposite lock yet even with the foot planted (hopefully i never will) .Although ive restrained myself from using track mode on the highway anymore,i dont want to trust my ability without a runoff.All of this fun is coming out of roundabouts naturally!!
 

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Andy, been meaning to ask you for a couple of weeks now.

Does the car feel more potent, now that the air is cooler and more dense?

It is certainly noticable is my little turbo runabout, but then, the cooling isn't that great.
 

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Having 700 hp doesn't mean that you should go crazy on public roads. The 12c has an amazing chassis, traction and control that the extra hp will take it closer to the limit and make it more "fun".

I don't think the 12c is for you, 360 straddle is a much better buy. But I am sure you will grow to like the 12c over time.
 

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The car is emphatically a road car and not a track car.

12C...
I wonder if I'd be happy with a Vantage to be honest...



As a former (modified) Elise owner (while in the Essex, to boot), I would never in my wildest dreams (or fantasies/nightmares) cross-compare it (or an Exige) to an MP4-12C (let alone Gallardo, 360/430 & 458, R8, NSX, etc). Perhaps a Spec-Miata/MX-5, Ariel Atom, or the like - yes. Even the Evora seems a bit of a stretch to compare to the aforementioned. Perhaps the forthcoming V10-powered ESPRIT may balance-out the otherwise one-dimensional slot-car like skewed spartan experience of the Lotus Elise/Exige platforms.

The brilliance of the MP4-12C (along w/ the 458 Italia) is that they bridge the gap between a town-&-country gentleman-racer GT & the dedicated track-day performer.

I guess it comes down to diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks! All one's preference...

Just my 2-pence. . .
 
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