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McLaren's new supercar brings race track performance to streets

January 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A British automaker known for its racing cars has produced the quickest street legal car in the world with the ability to go from zero to 60 in about 3 seconds. While it may be beyond your price range, it's fun to dream.

Even in Beverly Hills, where Ferraris and Lamborghinis seem to abound, it stands out. It's the new supercar from McLaren - a name many people have never heard of.

"We've won Indianapolis three times. We dominated Can-Am racing in America. We won 20 world championships," said Ron Dennis, chairman of McLaren Automotive.

The automaker's expertise is deeply steeped in racing, and they don't often build street cars.

When they do, though, an exotic like the MP4-12C really shows its stuff. It's complete with high power, light weight construction and the quickest acceleration times of any street car sold today.

Due to McLaren's technical innovations, it's relatively fuel efficient too.

"The rewards that we've reaped is effectively, we have one of the only two high-performance cars coming into this country with no gas guzzler tax," said Dennis.

One of the keys to this car is carbon fiber. It's very light and strong, and the entire tub of the car is made of the material.

Because McLaren has been such an innovator in the making of carbon fiber, they've been able to evolve it. In the early 1990s, their F1 supercar had a tub that took 4,000 man hours to build. With the MP4-12C, it only takes four man hours.

So, while the MP4-12C is well over $200,000, that's cheap compared to its exotic predecessors. The F1 model had a price tag of $1 million.

The MP4-12C is also very easy to drive at any speed. The interior is snug but not cramped, and it's as docile as any modern car around town.

Out on the track, the racing heritage is put to good use from electronic launch control to aerodynamic aids which help with both cornering and braking.

It's an exotic for the record books, but McLaren is not stopping at one.

"It isn't just about this model. It's about a whole family of cars that we're producing over the next few years," said Dennis.

In the meantime, this new super sports car will be turning heads in neighborhoods like Beverly Hills, already used to other, more run-of-the-mill exotics.