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8 mars 2011 2 08 /03 /mars /2011 07:00

86063_0O0K8316_122_85lo.jpgI will publish a series of posts dedicated to the various press reports written after the MP4-12C press presentation in Portugal. This first post will focus on some key notes from the 4 major American magazines, as well as from Inside Line. More North American reviews may follow in another post. I cannot copy/paste full articles, so I have chosen to publish a few significant quotes for each of them.

 

Road & Track
Just a short article but some interesting additional pages to go through. Chosen quote, related to chassis and suspensions:
McLaren touts the MP4-12C to be for the road and track. So our first stint in the car sampled the car’s civility on rough roads around Portimão. Even with handling set to Track mode, the 12C’s all-around double-wishbone suspension with hydraulically linked active damping is able to soak up road imperfections with ease. But on long and winding roads is where the new McLaren really feels at home. Powering through high-speed corners, the car is never unsettled by any sudden gaps in the pavement, and communicates the event with a touch of vibration through the steering wheel just to let you know it’s alive.

Motor Trend
As usual for Motor Trend when there is a significant new performance car, the magazine makes at the same time a test report and a technical presentation, which is a nice and short summary of the main car features. The 3 major conclusions from Edward Loh:

1. The 12C is fast, fluid, and flickable, yet easy to control. I get on the gas a bit too early out of a rising left and the rear 305/30ZR20 Pirellis just begin to break away. I steady my foot and countersteer just a touch, and the car drifts ever so slightly through to the edge of the track. It's natural, beautiful, and I'm feeling smug, when the voice next to me says:

"It does a nice job of correcting mistakes, doesn't it?"

Indeed. McLaren set out to build a super sports car that can be driven by guys who have the money, but nowhere near the talent, of an F1 driver. Active dampers with adjustable roll control and brake steer technology culled from F1 make this scalpel easy to handle, as do simpler virtues like excellent visibility and honest steering feedback.

2. The 12C delivers brutal performance. For $231,400, roughly the price of a Ferrari 458 Italia, McLaren aimed to deliver "level-up" performance -- the speed and handling of super exotics with names like Pagani, Koeniggsegg, and Bugatti. And the 12C does just that. Per the McLaren's data logger, I muster over 150 mph down Portimao's 0.6-mile front straight on my second lap, just before firing the carbon ceramics and fancy airbrake to generate 1.1 g of deceleration over the bumpy tarmac. While chatting me through the car and track, Mr. Goodwin hits over 158 mph and pulls 1.5 g of braking into the very same corner. This only partly validates McLaren's supercar claims, but at first blush, it appears the 12C dives deep into supercar territory.

3. The 12C is not a Ferrari; it is very clearly a McLaren. The gents from Woking, England, weren't shy about calling out the 12C's primary competition, but there was some grumbling from the assembled journalists about what the car gives up to the Ferrari 458 Italia. Some of these whispers are merely reactions to the unfamiliar. Despite the flat-plane crankshaft, there is no signature Italian shriek, though the 12C has a turbo-muffled roar all its own. Crisp Italian lines are nowhere to be seen, but why would they be? The 12C cuts its own purposeful profile, which looks much better in person than in photos. Its broad nose and organic curves recall manta rays while its cab-forward proportions bring to mind the Acura NSX.

 

Car & Driver

A very nice summary by Don Sherman:
Amateurs will enjoy this ride, good drivers will feel like track stars, and great pilots will find the MP4 a handy  tool for polishing their skills. There’s something here for everybody.
And because the MP4-12C is not perfect, a few critics from the same writer.
Of course, there are lapses. The MP4 suffers from an obvious lack of sex appeal, and it was christened with a part number instead of an evocative name. We wouldn’t mind a touch more steering feel and less brake-pedal travel during aggressive stops. High-speed stability is slightly shaky, a fault probably attributable to the substantial aero forces heaving on the rear of the car. Lower seat bolsters are spread to accommodate thunder thighs, a flaw easily resolved by ordering the optional sport seats. A lighter, louder sport exhaust system is also coming. Lastly, the MP4 could use a nicer welcome mat than the mouse fur covering the doorsills.

Automobile Magazine
Another very elogious report, with praises for the chassis:
Technologies like these allow the 12C to make the best drivers faster while flattering lesser ones, and inevitably they will one day save lives. Simply put, the McLaren's best feature is its ingenious chassis, the living embodiment of forty-plus years of winning.

Inside line
This time, I have selected an extract related to the transmission, but the article once again gives kudos to the chassis and points out that brake steer technology operates well:
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, too, is a joy to operate. Because the shift paddles are mounted on a rocker, the driver can favor one hand over the other to perform both up- and downshifts — pushing on one paddle or pulling on the other — to accomplish the same shift. In Track mode, the shifts aren't just fast, but smooth. This is aided by the use of the Pre-Cog function where the shift paddle is preloaded so that when the shift is requested (with a full pull at around 7,500 rpm on upshifts), it's instantaneous — thanks to years of Formula 1 field testing.
Leave the transmission in Automatic mode with all "normal" settings engaged, and we were just as impressed with its functionality over southern Portugal's variety of roads as we were by its ability to dominate the track.

Matt Davis who wrote the article is rather neutral on the design:
To most, the MP4-12C is not the most astonishingly beautiful design in its class. Many at McLaren, including Design Director Frank Stephenson, freely admit that certain angles can challenge the eye. They've also already heard every possible "It looks a lot like a..." comment, so they're unflappable on the topic. For us, it is most influenced by the original McLaren F1.

 

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