McLaren MP4-12C road car revealed

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

McLaren MP4-12C - the new sports car by McLaren
McLaren MP4-12C - the new sports car by McLaren

F1 car history provided the inspiration for the naming of the McLaren MP4-12C, the new sports car revealed by the company today.

The car shares the same naming convention used by the team’s F1 cars. It falls between McLaren’s 1997 MP4-12 (which won three Grands Prix) and the 1998 MP4-13 (which won both world championship titles).

This is probably because of the ‘brake steer’ technology fitted to the car, which is related to the same innovation which appeared on the 1997 and 1998 McLaren F1 cars. It was banned by the FIA early in 1998.

Brake steer applies the brakes to the inside rear wheel during high-speed cornering to reduce understeer. On the F1 cars this was operated by an extra brake pedal, but on the MP4-12C the system is electronic.

The car is powered by a 600bhp 3.8-litre V8 engine built by McLaren, making it an all-McLaren production. Its predecessor, the McLaren F1, used an engine supplied by BMW.

It also has a Formula 1-style seamless shift gearbox but does not have the distinctive central driving position of the McLaren F1.

The MP4-12C is seen as the successor to the F1 road car, designed in 1993 by Gordon Murray and Peter Stevens. Murray is not involved in the new project and is developing a new supercar design of his own, which he says will not rival the performance of the F1. He is also currently working on a compact, low-emissions city car called the T25.

The MP4-12C has been Ron Dennis’s project for the road car division since he stepped down from the race team earlier this year and the company will build around 1,000 per year. Now more than ever, McLaren is becoming a rival for Ferrari off the track as well as on it.

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78 comments on “McLaren MP4-12C road car revealed”

  1. Joaqo (Max should resign now!!!)
    9th September 2009, 6:24

    What a beauty!

  2. It looks better than the new ferrari they just unveiled…but doesn’t really impress me…

    1. You mean the 458? I quite liked that.

      1. Yea, the Front fascia is alright but I disliked everything from the A Pillar back on the 458, especially around the hips of the car, they just looked weird with the line on the door and rear arch being independent of each other and made the greenhouse seem oddly large.

        Here with the McLaren, we see a pretty standard fare in the design of the Midship Engined Supercar. While the 458 can’t really be seen as related to anything (except maybe the Autobacs Garaiya) the McLaren looks like a half dozen cars to come out in the last decade, three prominently pop to mind are the Carrera GT, Ascari KZ-1, and Saleen S7.

        Now it’s not to say it’s not pretty in it’s own right, but it’s hardly impressive or unique in the styling department.

        1. Thats what I thought. It looks incredibly non-descript. You’d think McLaren would come up with something special for their first new road-legal car in 15 years.

          Interesting to hear that the engine is In house too. No help from Mercedes at all?

        2. I agree here. Unless there’s something wildly different about the rear, it’s indistinctive in supercar terms. The 458 looked odd in places but at least had a hint of quirky character.

    2. lewisisoverated
      9th September 2009, 10:54

      i think it actually looks a lot like the 458 Italia.. just looks like theyve taken the basic design and improved on it! something like when mclaren stole the ferrari formula1 documents in 07 :D

  3. Its predecessor, the McLaren F1, used an engine supplied by BMW.

    I always found that ironic, that the McLaren F1 car paraded around the Tech Center is powered by a now major rival.
    The F1 car has its own innovative braking system, a series of fans suck the car into the ground under heavy braking.

    1. I always found that ironic, that the McLaren F1 car paraded around the Tech Center is powered by a now major rival.

      Could it possibly be the reason why McLaren have built their own engine for mp4-12c? Do they see Mercedes as their rivals somewhere in the future? Bigbadderboom told me that Mahle was bulding the v8 engine for them at their plant at Northampton. But i don’t see anything on their website.

      But he did provide a PDF file but the details are very sketchy.

      1. Nah, probably because you can’t market a supercar with a Merc engine apart from to Asian and Arabian countries.

        The west would go,
        Henry; “tally pip old boy, is that the new s Class mercedes?, haven’t they ruined the styling”
        Pip (from great expectations); “by jove your right Henry”

        then they both jump into a cataram for a hill climb.

  4. It is very beautiful and I am a big Mclaren fan, but I wonder about the possibility of their road car ever being in the same league of popularity and celebrity that ferrari has attained. Also and I hate to talk about colour, but they need to design a trademark like ferrari has with their maranello red, or yellow. Otherwise it just ends up looking like it could be mistaken for a Lotus! Is the orange harking back to the old days Mclaren days…if so it makes sense. But the colour they have used is not appealing.

    Anybody know the top speed? 0-60 secs etc…?

    1. I’m sure McLaren can muster up enough popularity to make this car a success story for them. Maybe not Ferrari popularity, but popularity none the less.

      End of the day, we must remember: the McLaren F1 is one of the most desirable road cars on the planet! Just ask Jay Leno! ;)

    2. Orange is the traditional McLaren colour. It was the colour of their first F1 cars, it is often used as a testing livery, on the team’s victory shirts. The F1 LM versions are all orange too, I think.

      I don’t know if the colour has a name other than ‘McLaren Orange’ though. ‘Victory Orange’, maybe>

      1. No it wasn’t, The original McLaren F1 car (1966) was white. The orange cars were sponsored by Gulf Oil and the colour was known as “Gulf Orange”

    3. Lotus!! I was wondering what it reminded me of. One of their recent Europa or Esprit concepts I think.

  5. I think the 458 looks better, but i wouldnt mind either one.

  6. It was a disappointment when I took a look at it. Road cars always have something in their design that tells something about it to the eyes of a petrolhead. The F1 told it was a monster, had muscles and can corner exceptionally, the Camaro tells it is like a total muscular body builder. This….. nein, just like a wannabe car. But 3.8 producing 600 hp is too awesome, wonder how many super/turbos it has and rpm it should attain, being Ron’s project, if it needs some 8-9 rpm, it won’t entertain me.

    1. It was a disappointment when I took a look at it

      Srini, do you drive turbocharged supercars around the streets of Bangalore? No offense meant :)

      1. I know a few people who drive turbocharged supercars around the streets of Delhi and I’m sure there are a few in Bangalore as well. :P

  7. I think that the 458 is a better looking car.

    This new McLaren looks kinda similar to other supercars that are around, doesnt it? (like the Koenigsegg perhaps)

    1. The back of that new Ferrari looks ug-leeeee. And the front isn’t much better. Having said that, I’m not too keen on any of the Ferrari road cars really.

    2. I agree, it does look a bit like a Koenigsegg.

      I don’t dislike it, but I don’t love it, and with supercars that’s a problem.

      The 458 however looks fresh. For me it’s one of the best looking Ferrari’s for a while. More going for it looks wise than the 350 and 430.

  8. What a beauty! Luca di Monty must be sulking somewhere in Marenello. Thanx to Max, McLaren are all set to thump Ferrari out of road car business.

    1. Becken has some more photos, including the interior.

    2. I think it’s hot as hell! Honestly, after just one photo it’s already my second most wanted car… Right behind the McLaren F1! :)

  9. It looks ok, you can deffinatly see some design links to the original F1. square headlights, body layout and dimention, nose, backside. I am confident that it will out perform the 458, and im sure that mclaren have every intention of creating a better car, ive heard that it will be up there with the 599gtb.

    this shot of the car looks different to other pics ive seen, other pics show a more angular design, particulary around the side intakes and the rear lights, but overall I expect this to be a very, very good car.

  10. I’ve read a couple of articles that say this is powered by a twin turbo, 6 liter V8. Some clarification would be great.

    Frankly I don’t care about the numbers, it is simply gorgeous! I see a lot of the old F1 in it too. If this the first of 3 models as some reports indicate, I can’t wait for the next one!

    1. Bigbadderboom
      9th September 2009, 8:02

      Yeah I thought it was powered by a developed 6.2ltr Modified Mercedes V8, which is badged as a McLaren engine.
      I will investigate! ;)

      1. Bigbadderboom
        9th September 2009, 8:09

        Mclaren have been quoted as saying the engine produces 592bhp with an efficiency of 155bhp per Litre, this would give a displacement of 3.8ltr and yes it is twin turbo charged.

      2. There must be some Mercedes involvement in the engine. Doesn’t Merc has a shareholding in the McLaren Group, not just the F1 team?

        1. It is rumored that Mercedes provided the blueprints for the engine & Mahle are manufacturing them. But details regarding the engine are still very sketchy.

  11. According to one magazine I read (but I cannot remember which one) the MP4-12C will only be one of a range of cars, so it will be interesting to see if the keep an F1 ‘family’ likeness, or if each one will be styled differently.
    I am interested by the fact the McLaren are building their own engines. Maybe as MP4-19b says, they are keeping clear of any future clashes with Mercedes, which is odd considering the deals that must be in place already between them and AMG/Ilmor for the current F1 racing engines.

  12. “McLaren is becoming a rival for Ferrari off the track as well as on it”.
    It will go wheel to wheel with Ferrari with 458

  13. I want one of those :)

  14. Right so that’s one more reason to get into the RAF then save every penny I can..!!

    1. What will you do if they deploy you in Iraq or Pakistan? :(

      1. If I got posted overseas I would put the car into storage in my Dad’s garage and let him have use of it in return for him making sure it was looked after…

        It was only meant as a joke anyway. Even if I saved every penny I could, I doubt I’d be able to afford a super-car…ever!!

      2. I didn’t know the RAF were deployed in Pakistan..

        1. No me either… but Afghanistan is only next door, maybe he got it mixed up…

  15. I preferred the Ferrari 458 Italia, but that said neither are real beauties imo. I think it’s the front of the mclaren (it reminds me of a Tesla :S what I just don't care about, rest is alright though. Though tbh if I had either I'd rather drive in them than look at them anyway.

  16. Sorry, but I don’t see any personality in this design, you can put any brand you wish except the traditional ones: ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini.

    McLaren have one of the best F1 design of the grid, they should work harder with this new project.

    The front is quite similar to the Ferrari 430 with more curves over the front wheels, btw.

  17. I just wanted to know if Kimi or Massa are allowed to own this car?

    1. Not as long as they’re Ferrari drivers I suspect!

    2. I don’t think they would want to. They have access to better and prettier cars :)

  18. I like the look of it, but I don’t like the name MP4-12C. Using McLaren’s usual naming system the name MP4-12C would be used for a development of the 1997 Formula 1 car MP4-12, just like the 2003 car MP4-17D was a development of the 2002 MP4-17.

    In one of the links already provided it has this to say about the name

    The MP4 bit is the chassis designation of all McLaren Formula 1 cars since 1981 – harking back to the merger from Ron Dennis’s Project 4 organisation. The twelve refers to McLaren’s internal benchmarking system for rating its own cars and rivals, ranking power, weight, efficiency and so forth. The C apparently refers to carbon, although we wonder if it shouldn’t stand for coupé as there will be a roadster MP4-12 too.

    I thought McLaren would have come up with a similar but new naming system as they intend produce several different cars in years to come. I didn’t think there was that much wrong with P11, the car’s original codename. By the way does anyone know how they came up with P11, and if it was something like Project 11 what were the first 10 projects?

    1. so the 458italia was code named f148 what were the other 147f’s, it supoze that it coresponds with mp4 11, they also had a p12 concept which will use a v10, aparently will have 700-800 bhp

  19. So no road cars to ever have KERS?

    1. Now that’s an important question that you rise. But you must know that this mp4-12c is a supercar & it wouldn’t give a damn for fuel consumption & efficiency. And Kers is supposedly “mercedes technology” & mclaren, it seems don’t want to involve merc in any of their future projects. I think, again this is purely my thought a split is imminent. Actually i wouldn’t call the McLaren-Mercedes a grand success at all. In 15 years of their partner ship all that they’ve managed is 59 victories out of around 250 odd races, so their sucess ratio is less than 25%. meanwhile with honda as their engine partners in the late-80’s & early nineties mclaren achieved 44 victories out of 80 races, winning 55% of the time. After all these years of partnership with mercedes all mclaren have to show is 3 WDC & 1 WCC. so this partnership isn’t a “grand” success at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if they part ways in the near future.

      1. Back in the Honda days, Ferrari was in a coma.

    2. But I raised the question as there have been rumours, but nothing has come of it?
      KERS for a road car would be like the new NOS lol.

  20. Shame it doesn’t have the central driving position, it was one of the things that all the reviewers raved about when they tested the F1 road car. It could have been a McLaren signature feature.

    Electronically-controlled brake steer? Surely that also goes by the name ESP/ESC/electronic stability? As far as I know it works in the same way: monitoring the speed of each wheel and independently braking them to keep the car pointing straight. I suppose using this tech to turn the car more sharply is what makes the McLaren system different… or the exact opposite, even!

  21. Looks like a Lotus…

    i prefer thr 458! but this one is not that gar away…

  22. Congratulations to Ron and Mac ! as a fan, I am happy. However, the car looks a little generic. I like the SLR and the Stirling Moss Replica better. Of course, these are front – engine cars …. McLaren has to find its signature look in rear engine cars.

  23. Prisoner Monkeys
    9th September 2009, 12:25

    It’s like somebody mated an F430 with a McLaren F1.

  24. It looks very nice. Can’t wait to see the Stig get hold of it.

    I wonder if McLaren can now move some R&D costs onto this project when an F1 budget cap comes along?

  25. Any idea about the price this thing will be selling at?

  26. Potbellied Haug admits Rosberg is McLaren 2010 candidate.

  27. I think it’s a bit bland and not unique for a supercar, I don’t like the name even if it is relevent, and although McLaren should be using orange, they shouldn’t be using that shade of it.

  28. How is “brake-steer” different from the stability control program in my wife’s Passat wagon, that uses the brakes in cornering, in theory, to keep us out of the scenery? Who knew the old barge had F1 tricks up its sleeve? I will now be taking on-ramps at 10/10ths to try it out.

    Anyway, this car comes up way short of my expectations. How come no mass-damper, pneumatic-valvetrain, traction-control steering wheel paddles, front wheel spats or KERS? In any event I want to make sure Kovalainen, if he gets one at all, gets a slightly more draft version.

  29. HounslowBusGarage
    9th September 2009, 15:48

    A MacLaren sportscar, eh. Hmmm, I wonder if they will go into GT racing like Ferrari?

  30. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    9th September 2009, 15:57

    Even though British engineering & manufacturing is on the ropes right now, it’s wonderfull to see we can still do it at the highest level.

  31. Wow, what a stupid and confusing idea to call the car.

  32. Fairly dull looking front end. The rear looks really interesting though.

  33. Looks like an upgraded Lotus Elise.

  34. Looks a lot like a Ferrari… another spygate scandal??

  35. To get 600bhp, Mclaren had to put two turbos on their V8.
    Without any turbos, Ferrari’s V8 makes 562bhp… Ferrari has made a much more impressive achivement IMO. My only doubt is if the handling of the Mclaren will be superior, due to his carbon-fibre chassis…

  36. I just figured out what to put on my christmas list…

  37. Prisoner Monkeys
    10th September 2009, 7:59

    I am totally going to use this car in the novel I’m writing. I already know exactly how it will be introduced.

    1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
      10th September 2009, 9:28

      Hope your novel has a point to it, unlike your comment……

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        10th September 2009, 11:48

        Oh, it does. I’ve been looking for a good car for a while now; the MP4-12C is it.

        And it’s funny you should say that my comment has no point, as yours doesn’t either.

        1. Mussolini's Pet Cat
          10th September 2009, 14:05

          I’ve got to read this novel of yours, should be hilarious………

          1. Prisoner Monkeys
            10th September 2009, 14:51

            It’s not going to be a funny one. One scene simply involves a sportscar, and I like the MP4-12C. So I’m going to include it.

  38. Looks like a fusion of Diablo and Ferrari F430 Spider (closer to the last one). Nothing inspiring. Like some people mentioned before – I was expecting something quirkier.

  39. Incredible how bland that thing looks compared to the SLS. Just pales in comparison.

  40. oh noe mclaren did it again..are we gonna have a repeat of the 2007 f1 “incident”…the car looks very familiar, almost like i’ve seen it somewhere before…o wait…

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