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10 décembre 2011 6 10 /12 /décembre /2011 10:00

111024 mclaren dunsfold609

Finally an almost positive review for the MP4-12C in a British magazine, but still not victory.

The MP4-12C shouldn’t be second. It should be on the top step, crowned Evo Car of the Year 2011. ‘I had my most memorable drive of the test in the MP4-12C and went faster than I would have thought possible,’ said Catchpole. ‘I expected it to be a bit bland and a bit computer-gamey but it’s not,’ said Porter. ‘There are moments when it’s doing stuff that goes much further than exposing its competitors in this test – it questions the fundaments of what a sporting car should be; how it should behave,’ said Harris. But it finishes second because almost all complimentary comments on the McLaren were followed by ‘…but…’.

When it was right, the McLaren was nigh-on untouchable, but almost from the moment its wheels hit the warm Portuguese asphalt it was troubled by niggles and issues. Some of us only experienced it as it should be late in the test. Then it was devastatingly effective, utterly engaging, ludicrously wieldy and fast; a car to show up the shortcomings of the Ferrari 458 which beat it in our summer group test issue. But…

‘There’s this feeling that you’re not driving the finished article,’ said Catchpole. And that’s what tempered the enthusiasm of too many of us. ‘It was so close,’ said Green. ‘Even if it had been on the standard brakes, it might have won. Maybe next year…’

Scans available @ German Car Forum.

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2 décembre 2011 5 02 /12 /décembre /2011 21:00

Article en Français et Anglais / Article in French and English

AMS1st place: Ferrari 458 Italia

 Ce fut un combat serré, mais la Ferrai gagne parcxe qu'elle est plus mûre et plus rapide à la limite. / It was a tough battle, but the Italia won, because it's "more mature" and it's faster at the limit.

Pneus / Tyres: Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Poids / Weight: 1546 kg
Vmax.: 326 km/h
0-100 km/h: 3,5 s
0-200 km/h: 10,4 s
0-260 km/h: 19,2 s
0-400m: 11,3 s
Souplesse / Flexibility (80-120 km/h) in 5th/6th : 3,3s/4,6s
18 m slalom: 68,4 km/h
Test d'évitement / 110 m ISO evasive test: 155,3 km/h
Freinage (100-0 km/h) froid/chaud / Braking (100-0 km/h) cold/warm: 33,8 m/33,0 m

Hockenheimring: 1.09,7 min 

2nd place: McLaren MP4-12C

Elle est plus rapide que la 458, mais aussi plus chère, a quelques problèmes de qualité et pourrait être plus expressive en termes de son et de design / It's faster than the 458, but it's also more expensive, it has some quality-issues and it might be a bit more emotional in terms of design and sound.
Pneus / Tyres: Pirelli P Zero Corsa
Poids / Weight: 1483 kg
Vmax.: 330 km/h
0-100 km/h: 3,2 s 

0-200 km/h: 9,2 s
0-260 km/h: 16,7 s
0-400m: 10,8 s
Souplesse / Flexibility (80-120 km/h) in 5th/6th gear: 3,6s/5,9s
18 m slalom: 68,4 km/h
Test d'évitement / 110 m ISO evasive test: 153,5 km/h
Freinage (100-0 km/h) froid/chaud / Braking (100-0 km/h) cold/warm: 33,8 m/33,8 m
Hockenheimring: 1.09,5 min

Scans available / Scans disponibles @ German Car Forum.


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28 novembre 2011 1 28 /11 /novembre /2011 21:00

Article en Français et Anglais / Article in French and English

mp4 in milano 0691copy

Après Sport Auto, la MP4-12C a participé à un autre essai marquant pour une automobile, l'édition annuelle du Club des 4 secondes du magazine italien Quattroruote. Cet essai a opposé cette année la Ferrari 599 GTO, la Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0, la Lamborghini Aventador et finalement la McLaren MP4-12C. Avec un temps de 1'13"860, la Lamborghini a établi un nouveau record sur le circuit d'essai du magazine, près d'une seconde plus rapide que la McLaren (1'14"815), elle même plus d'une seconde plus rapide que les autres rivales. Si le moteur de la Ferrari domine les débats (100/100), la McLaren domine quant-à elle sur le chapitre de la transmission (48/50), des freins (100/100, ex-aequo avec la Porsche) et la tenue de route (192/200). La Lamborghini l'emporte malgré tout d'une courte tête au total sur la MP4-12C, 878 à 871/1000. Relatif échec de la McLaren dans cet essai, car cette seconde place est malgré tout une belle reconnaissance de la part de la presse transalpine.

This test is one of the most significant in Europe after Sport Auto Supertest. Issued every year, it featured in 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO, Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0, Lamborghini Aventador and McLaren MP4-12C. With a lap time of 1'13"860, the Lamborghini has set a new track record for the magazine, almost one second ahead of the McLaren (1'14"815), more than one second faster than the two other cars. If the Ferrari's engine dominates (100/100), the McLaren wins 3 categories: transmission (48/50), brakes (100/100, ex-aequo with Porsche) and handling (192/200). Overall win goes however to the Lamborghini, shortly ahead of the McLaren, 878 vs 871/1000. This second place is nonetheless a good result for the McLaren, coming from an Italian magazine.

Scans disponibles / Scans available @ German Car Forum.

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5 novembre 2011 6 05 /11 /novembre /2011 10:00

Article en Français et Anglais / Article in French and English

mp4 in milano 0349Un des essais majeurs de la presse automobile internationale est enfin disponible, le Supertest par Sport Auto en Allemagne. Je suis pas mal partagé par le résultat, qui est certes presque parfait, avec une note de 70/70 (mais un resultat sur piste mouillée faible, et celui-ci ne compte plus dans la note maintenant), mais en deça de la Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Les résultats apres mon introduction en anglais (avec quelques références de la Nissan GT-R MY2011).

One of the most significant test in the international press has been finally release, the German Sport Auto Supertest. If the 70/70 high score is a significant achievement, it hides the fact that wet handling result is poor (but does not count anymore in the score) and that on most categories, a 911 GT2 RS does better. Results below (including 911 GT2 RS as well as MY2011 Nissan GT-R for reference):

Nurburgring: 7.28 (GT2 RS: 7.24 / GT-R 7.36)
Hockenheimring: 1.08,7 (1.08,4 / 1.10,0)
0-100kph: 3.4s (3.5s)
0-200kph: 9.8s (9.8s)
Poids/Weight of tested car: 1451kg (1405kg)
Cw: 0.37 (0.35)
CwxA: 0.72 (0.71)
Deportance a 200kph AV/Downforce at 200kph front: 2kg (14kg)
Deportance a 200kph AR/Downforce at 200kph rear: 62kg (35kg)
200-0kph: 144.2m (126.6m / 129.2m)
36m slalom: 138kph (144kph / 140kph)
Mesure d'evitement/110 evasion meter test: 157kph (159kph / 155kph)

Circuit humide/Wet handling: 1.38,7 (1.38,7 / 1.35,0) 1/10 (très mauvais score/very poor result)

Plaisir de conduite/Driving pleasure: 10/10

Usage quotidien/Daily driver rating: 7/10

Scans available / Scans disponibles @ German Car Forum.

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20 octobre 2011 4 20 /10 /octobre /2011 21:00

mclaren mp412c 058With the end of the year getting closer, various "Car of the Year" issues are being pubish. This month, we have discovered the results of Autocar Britain's Best Driver Car 2011 and Auto Express Performance Car Of The Year 2011. Both are quite disappointing for any MP4-12C fan, with the car finishing in the middle of the pack. Both complain about various things, but mainly about lack of fun and the fact that the MP4-12C imposes a way to drive it - and that if you don't follow the way, you won't be efficient behind the wheel. Detailed judgment as follow.

Auto Express

Phenomenal pace and exceptional handling mark the new McLaren firmly in the top echelon of supercars.

The MP4-12C is a towering achievement, but it’s missing one vital commodity – the pure ability to thrill.

You get your kicks from the McLaren in a different way to the other cars in our line-up. Unlike the Ferrari, Mercedes or Jaguar, it’s not designed for the driver to switch off the electronic aids and play the hooligan on track. It only wants to be driven one way; smoothly and fast.

This single-minded pursuit of speed is understandable from a team that has made its name in Formula One, but in eking out the last one-hundredth of a second something has gone missing.The twin-clutch gearshift is one of the most rapid we’ve experienced, but you don’t get a satisfying blip of the throttle on downshifts.

Part of the blame lies with the engine. A V8 turbo is the pragmatic choice as it provides the best blend of performance and economy, but its uninspiring soundtrack simply doesn’t do the rest of the car justice. The chassis, meanwhile, is almost beyond criticism, as the amount of grip it generates is staggering.
However, the clever Brake Steer system (which applies the brakes to the inside rear wheel to prevent slip and contain understeer) detracts from the driving experience, rather than adding to it. And turnining it off isn't exactly encouraged by the complicated electronics.
If this all sounds a bit negative, that’s simply because expectations of the McLaren were so high. It has achieved what it set out to do, effectively matching the Ferrari 458 Italia for raw pace, so the MP4-12C really deserves plenty of praise.

Its phenomenal pace and exceptional handling rank it firmly in the top echelon of supercars. And it encourages you to drive neatly and precisely as you try to set the fastest lap time you can. We just wish it was a bit more fun while you did it.
Ranking: 5th.
Online article here.
Autocar
Transcript of the article published in Oct. 12th issue of the Magazine, written by Andrew Frankel.

Interestingly, there appears to be nothing fundamentally wrong with this car. It’s not too heavy or insufficiently stiff – indeed, it is the lightest, stiffest car in its class thanks to its carbonfibre monocoque. What niggles is an inescapable feeling that, in almost all areas, the car gives the impression that just a little more development time could have unleashed something quite extraordinary and less compromised.

We’ll look at its shortcomings in a minute, but it’s important to make clear that the McLaren does things no other car here can even think about. It was the quickest around the circuit by a clear second, and had we been at a more expansive facility like Donington or Goodwood, that gap would have grown wider. It packed the biggest punch (by far) and easily the swiftest, smoothest gearchanges. Grip levels from its optional Pirelli Corsa tyres were predictably heroic.

However, it impressed most over the bumps. Indeed, if you did a totally committed lap, using all the track and more by leaning on the kerbs in a way you’d never dream of doing in your own car, and then did exactly the same in any other contender, you’d think you were on a different facility altogether. When you cruelly banged the fully loaded outside wheels over some vicious-looking saw-toothed kerb, instead of rattling your teeth in your gums, the McLaren simply quivered momentarily and shot off up the road. At least some of its lap time comes from its ability to use bits of track you’d steer clear of in the others. Its brakes were also astonishing.

So why has a car that, a year ago, plenty of us would have named as the runaway favourite to win this contest come home squarely in the mid-field? The short answer is ‘confidence’, or lack thereof. Year after year, the car that wins this contest does so not because it is necessarily the fastest or the grippiest, or the one that does the biggest skids. It is the car that, before it does anything else, provides the driver with the confidence to wring its neck. If then it also turns out to have a surplus of all the more easily measured or observable talents, it’s in with a very good shot. Around Rockingham, none of us got the feeling that the McLaren was on the same page as the rest of us. As one tester it, and if we can be allowed to mix our metaphors, “no rider wants to be outwitted by the horse”.

There was no single failing that terminally undermined a potentially fine performance. In fact, there were several issues, some smaller than others, in most areas of its endeavour. Drivers complained about power delivery that caused such a big and sudden bang in the back at the exit of a corner that stability could be compromised. One tester observed that the gearbox could refuse downshifts when braking from high speed, another that the engine could have done with a sharper throttle map. There was one concern about the car’s rear-end stability when braking into a quick right that you approach over a left-hand brow, and another concerning its friendliness in the wet. A more general lament was its inherent desire to push its nose wide of the apex.

In short, none of us felt the car was on our side. It didn’t feel like it wanted throw you into the next postcode, but it did refuse to adapt to its driver. There was one way to drive the McLaren MP4-12C and that was its way. Do it any other way and it would soon point out the error in unambiguous terms. Which is why, for all the skills of its creators and the clever tech it carries, it failed to provide the driver with that crucial confidence.

Ranking: 6th

Full coverage on German Car Forum.

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27 septembre 2011 2 27 /09 /septembre /2011 22:50

First cars are being delivered, at least in UK. Maff has kindly allowed me to publish here the very complete report he has posted on Piston Heads, a report which I assume will be completed over the next weeks or months. So stay tuned ! Pictures from the original article.

Sept. 20th

After a wait for a few issues to be sorted by the dealer I picked her up this afternoon, and, WOW!
The McLaren has a lot more visual appearance on the road than any photo's portray, and has quite a stance. The interior fit and finish is very good, better than the Ferrari's, exterior fit and finish is probably on par.
I happened to be driving my GTO and California this morning, and got straight out of those and into the MP4-12C. The first thing I noticed is how small the McLaren feels compared to the Ferrari's, but its actual size is slightly bigger than a California.
The MP4 feels much more nimble than the GTO, but most of that will be down to the weight difference. The MP4 is certainly quicker than the GTO once it gets going, and it pulls like nothing I have driven before once you get to 4500rpm all the way to 8500rpm. However I would guess from a standing start the GTO would pull away, as the GTO just sits down and goes off the line with no wheelspin at all, whereas the McLaren gets a lot of wheelspin and needs to be modulated, I assume due to the turbo torque kicking in. Once the McLaren is up to 80mph or so then it would start to pull away at quite some speed from the GTO. The McLaren really IS quick once rolling and I would be amazed if at motorway speeds anything bar a Veyron would currently pass it (except modified cars wink
Oh, and one thing I was not expecting! The noise!!!! I have the optional sports lightweight exhaust and inside the cabin the exhaust/engine noise is much louder than the GTO, not sure how that compares outside - I would guess the GTO is louder.
I drove the GTO and MP4 back to back on my local twisty hilly roads and the MP4 does handle better than I expected. In comparison the GTO just simply sticks and does not slide very much at all unless properly provoked or driven in a very agressive manner, whereas I found the MP4 to be a little more playful than the GTO but still very well balanced, and the GTO would have its work cut out trying to keep up with the MP4 on the twisties.
Ride is very good, nicely sprung and still dampened to what you would expect. Sometimes feels a but floaty but only in a straight line over undulations, paint finish is very good, better than Aston, Ferrari.
And the not so good bits:
- Seats don't have enough adjustment for height and backrest (and these are the optional electric memory ones)
- interior does feel a bit small, but then as a plus it makes the car feel smaller than it is
- TURBO LAG! Below 3000rpm the small engine does show through. You really have to be above 3000rpm all the time otherwise it feels like I am driving my smart car. There really is virtually no get up and go at all compared to my similar cars. Even compared to my California and C63 AMG below 2000rpm its lousy and between 2000 and 3000rpm its just about on par. To be fair my other cars are NA, but you know its a turbo engined car in the McLaren. And once the power does come on when you back off to brake at say 6000rpm it feels as if the power is still being delivered for a very short amount of time, as if the turbo is still 'un-spooling' which I found a little strange.
- Throttle response leaves a little to be desired. Maybe harsh comparing it with the GTO which is just perfect, but I did expect a little better.
- I wont mention the 'launch car' issues as these have been mentioned in other posts, but they did detract from the experience.
Overall, even with the items above it is a still a great car, and something for McLaren to be proud of. Yes its not perfect, but some of the issues above could be sorted out over time. My main gripes are with the turbo lag and responsiveness, and should be issues that can be fixed.
Some may say its not fair to compare to a 599 GTO which costs over £110k more than the MP4-12C, but its just my way of comparing to what I know very well (>7000 miles on my GTO now and numerous track days).
The MP4 will be put through the same paces as my other cars so it will be interesting to see how it develops with some use and track days.

IMG 2254.sizedBlog admin opinion on the car: Very interesting specification, with a nice combination of black touches, in particular on the turning vanes, with the white body color.

Sept. 21st

One day on and 100 mile more, and two faults so far, first was an exhaust valve fault, which put the car into limp mode. Pulled over, switched it off, locked it and after 2 minutes it thankfully sorted itself back out again. Phew.
Then 20 miles later an 'ESC Fault' appeared on the dash, and none of the handling or powertrain buttons worked and dash reset to default mode. Switched off in traffic, restarted and fault cleared. Again. Phew.
Oh, and whilst listing to the iPod, the media center rebooted itself for no reason. TO be fair IRIS is not in a very healthy state on all cars, but at least the iPod part works. Or did.
Hope it gets better from here on!!!
- 599 GTO or McLaren if I had to keep one? GTO. Its just a better car, maybe only 90% as fast but just an all round great car. I could see myself getting board of the McLaren, not of the GTO.
- Steels or carbon brakes? I have the steels and they feel fine feedback wise, and do slow it down very well, however I do now wish that I would have spec'ed the carbon ones, as I can see the standard pads/disks wearing out pretty quickly due to the shear speed of the thing and all the braking thats needed!
- Comparison of size to the GTO. See pics below, but I was surprised this morning when I put them side by side to find them exactly the same length and width, and the GTO is large!!

IMG 2265.sizedSept. 25th

Well what can I say?!
A week on with the car and I have been using it every day. In 'normal/normal' mode (drivtrain/handling) and the aero off, and auto mode its easier to drive and more comfortable than my C63.
However, in track/track mode, or even track/sport the car is a different car. The exhaust flaps open and it is proper loud, the suspension changes and it feels as if I have just got in a different car.
In summary, F**k me what a car.
I like to think I drive my cars pretty hard, to give you an idea my 8 month old 599 GTO is already 20% through its near lifetime CCM3 carbon ceramics, and my California of the same age is ready for a re-spray due to stone chips.
I've been giving the MP4 a pretty hard time now she is run in, and I really can not believe what I am experiencing. The initial issues I had with the throttle response, whilst still not perfect has become much less of an issue, and in track mode is much better. The turbo lag is also less of an issue once you learn the 7 speed box's ratio's.
My absolute certain conclusion: This is the fastest car I have ever driven. There is NO way my GTO would hang with the MP4 on a British A or B road. Zero. I can 100% agree with the top gear lap times. I have driven a ot of cars, tracked and raced numerous, and I do not know of another road car that could keep up with the MP4 being driven in anger.
Even the new Aventador, unless it can shed 200kg don't even bother trying, its that quick.
The precision of the turn in sublime, the handling is the best I have ever experienced, the balance is perfect, and for a car that does NOT have a LSD, it beggars belief. I do not know how a car that limits its wheel spin via electronically breaking the spinning wheel does it. I am sure most of us have driven a car without a diff and felt what happens when the traction control brakes the spiining wheel and its not good (C63 for example!), but in the McLaren it just goes, and when it does slip it drifts beautifully with good control.
Yes the GTO is a nicer car to drive, the GTO feels more mechanical, and that V12, but if you want to go for a complete balls out blast at speeds that seem impossible, the McLaren is the car to do it in.
And its not been without problems, 12 electrical faults with the car and counting, I've lost part of the front wing guard, and it stranded me in London at midnight on Friday refusing to start after 30 minutes of trying, but hopefully these issues will be fixed this week.
How some of the magazines found this car slower round a track is beyond me, maybe the most recent updates to the McLaren last week sorted these issues, but thats my next test... track day booked. biggrin

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22 août 2011 1 22 /08 /août /2011 23:05

mclaren mp412c 047Faible activité cette été, avec à l'exception d'un article dans Automobile (US, basé sur le comparatif déjà paru dans Car UK) et d'un nouvel article comparatif assez pauvre dans Top Gear, essentiellement deux prises en main (sur les routes anglaises) dans la presse française, que je vais brièvement résumer ici, leur contenu étant assez pauvre et succint.

 

Auto Moto - Septembre 2011

L'auteur y loue la facilité de conduite de la voiture, notamment grâce à une très bonne visibilité, mais se plaint comme beaucoup d'autre de l'effort nécessaire sur les palettes pour changer de vitesse. Surprise, car c'est la première fois que je lis la chose, on note quelques reproche sur le train avant qui a trop tendance à copier la route et demande donc de tenir fermemement le volant, phénomène amplifié au freinage. Au passage, on note des reproches sur le manque de feeling de la direction. Mais il faut noter que les phénomènes diminuent lorsque l'on passe en position sport (apparemment, les commentaires passés concernaient la position confort).

 

L'Automobile magazine - Août 2011

Là encore, on note des commentaires positifs sur l'habitacle et la visibilité, même si on peut noter des reproches sur l'épaisseur des montants. Par contre, l'habitacle est estimé étroit pour un gabarit supérieur à 1,80m, l'ergonomie parfois perfectible (position des palettes de changement de vitesse, bouton de marche arrière trop reculé, réglage peu commode des sièges électriques). Le moteur pousse fort, mais manque un peu de caractère (ou plutôt de voix) et présente un peu d'inertie du fait des turbos. Il est bien secondé par une transmission très agréable dans ses changements de rapports. Les commentaires sur la tenue de route sont très positifs (grande vitesse de passage en courbe, bonne motricité sur le mouillé...) mais ne semblent pas s'appuyer sur un temps de conduite suffisant pour être vraiment significatifs.

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31 juillet 2011 7 31 /07 /juillet /2011 20:00

mclaren mp412c 012Traduction du comparatif avec la Ferrari 458 Italia déjà publié par Autocar.

 

Le fait qu’une auto soit un peu plus légère ou un peu plus rapide ne la rend pas forcément meilleure. Autant se faire à l’idée, après tout, que la McLaren pourrait être une auto comme les autres. Elle a, elle aussi, ses petits travers, ses petits défauts de jeunesse. Ainsi, il faut claquer ses portes avec fermeté pour qu’elles soient correctement fermées. Et puis, la plupart du temps, son moteur n’est pas mélodieux. Les boutons de réglage du châssis et du mode de conduite évoquent le plastique bon marché. Enfin, le freinage carbone n’est pas facile à doser à basse vitesse. Néanmoins, il y a une chose positive que l’on remarque tout de suite : le confort particulier de la suspension. Les amortisseurs pilotés sont utilisés pour l’antiroulis. Ils ont tendance à se raidir en appui et à se détendre en ligne droite. Par moments, on peut se croire à bord d’une Mercedes. Certes, la 458 est elle aussi bien suspendue grâce à des amortisseurs magnétiques. Elle n’est pas trop raide en antiroulis et les débattements ne sont pas trop limités. Cependant, McLaren a de toute évidence été très attentif à la notion de confort en usage courant.

L’habitacle de la 12C est moins flamboyant que celui de la 458 mais il est vaste, fonctionnel, doté d’excellents sièges et complété par un coffre à bagages digne de ce nom. A bord de la Ferrari, on est assis plus haut et on a l’impression que la caisse est plus large. Le volant de la Mclaren est plus sympa, avec des palettes plus petites et solidaires, censées évoquer la F1. Reste que Hamilton n’a pas à franchir des ronds-points et que les palettes de la Ferrari, plus grandes et non mobiles car fixées sur la colonne, sont plus pratiques. Mais il y a trop de boutons sur le volant de la 458. /…/

Tout en suivant le flot de la circulation, sur l’autoroute encombrée, nous remarquons, à bord de la McLaren, que les percussions les plus sèches de la suspension sont transmises dans le châssis avec un effet de résonance. On dirait également que les bruits de roulement sont amplifiés par la coque de la structure creuse. La direction est en revanche parfaite, douce, stable, équilibrée, avec une bonne consistance. Celle de la Ferrari est plus vive et peut se montrer plus fatigante sur un long parcours. On dirait que la 458 aime se faire remarquer, elle titille, elle veut jouer. Même lorsqu’il s’agit d’aller chercher le pain. Alors que la McLaren va volontiers passer en septième sur le mode auto, à 1000 tr/mn, la 458 cherche en permanence à faire entendre sa voix.

Rien de mieux que les petites routes du Pays de Galles pour continuer la partie. Tout de suite, la McLaren confirme la qualité de sa suspension. Elle avale les bosses et se joue des montagnes russes, elle filtre les inégalités avec un savoir-faire que pourrait jalouser Lotus. Tout en gardant la même assiette, elle encaisse les bosses et les trous tandis que la direction ne bronche pas. Sauf dans les cas extrêmes, lorsque les percussions sont plus fortes et que l’on arrive en butée, ou bien lorsque, déjà contractés, les amortisseurs se font surprendre et renvoient l’impact dans la direction. Reste que la McLaren dégage une grande impression de facilité. Ce faisant, elle rassure. Mais attention, sur route ouverte, cela pourra être trompeur pour celui qui ne reste pas sur ses gardes.

La Ferrari est moins facile de caractère, sa direction est plus nerveuse. Mais elle dispose d’un moteur autrement plus expressif et réactif, unique en son genre et d’une sensualité qui fait défaut au V8 biturbo de la McLaren. Sa boîte double embrayage est elle aussi exceptionnelle. Objectivement, la 458 est plus endiablée, plus communicative alors que le freinage est plus facile à doser. Retranchée derrière son assurance, la 12C paraît réservée. La 458 se place mieux sur les freins et répond mieux à l’accélération quand il s’agit de virer de façon neutre à la limite du raisonnable sur route ouverte. Avec la 12C, on ressent un temps de réponse à la remise des gaz, avant de virer avec plus de facilité et moins de sensations. On passe plus vite et c’est moins grisant. Je dois avouer qu’au bout des deux jours durant lesquels je n’ai cessé de passer de l’une à l’autre, je me suis pris d’une véritable affection pour la Ferrari. Pour tout vous dire, cela m’a laissé perplexe. La McLaren donne l’impression d’être plus rapide mais cela ne suffit pas à faire la différence, à convaincre, ou à séduire.

C’est sur la piste d’évolution du MIRA que j’ai commencé à comprendre un peu mieux le phénomène, après avoir débranché les ESP. Comme vous le savez, la McLaren est dépourvue de différentiel autobloquant, à ce qu’il semble pour des raisons de poids. Mais elle est sensée disposer d’une botte secrète, le ‘cornering brake’ ou ‘brake steer’, une fonction supplémentaire de l’ESP Bosch. Le principe de ce dispositif est de plus en plus répandu mais McLaren a l’alibi supplémentaire de l’avoir développé en Formule 1. Il permet de corriger le sous-virage en freinant la roue intérieure, et de remettre les gaz plus tôt en sortie de courbe. Contrairement à ce qui se passe sur un ESP classique, le système n’attend pas la perte d’adhérence pour intervenir. Du coup, sur circuit, la 12C enregistre des vitesses de passage en courbe étonnantes. Et c’est en utilisant pleinement les possibilités de cette aide à la conduite qu’il faut l’exploiter. Si vous la pilotez de manière instinctive, comme vous le feriez avec n’importe quel autre modèle du genre, le train avant gardera toujours la main. Il est difficile de placer la 12C sur les freins, et le léger temps de réponse des turbos à l’accélération complique un peu les choses. L’arrivée désynchronisée des chevaux engendre plus de sous-virage. Par réflexe, on lève le pied, avant de remettre les gaz. Et cela marche à merveille sur la Ferrari, avec certes une transition un peu pointue entre sous et survirage. La recette ne fonctionne pas sur la 12C, laquelle demande des automatismes de pilote de F1. Il convient de solliciter plus franchement la direction pour informer le système avant de mettre du gaz, beaucoup de gaz, pour combattre le retard à l’accélération et supprimer le sous-virage. Et c’est à ce moment-là que l’on peut exploiter tout le potentiel d’accélération latérale et s’extraire de la courbe à une vitesse inimaginable. Quand l’auto se met à glisser, on a une sorte de relation télépathique avec la direction, et le châssis pardonne beaucoup. Je n’ai jamais ressenti pareille sensation en sortie de courbe. C’est en cela que la McLaren est spéciale, différente des autres et quelque peu surnaturelle. Elle a été mise au point par des pilotes avertis, pour des pilotes avertis. Et à ce niveau-là, elle semble intouchable. Chez Ferrari, on n’a pas la même philosophie. Peut-être suis-je victime du côté exhibitionniste de la 458, mais c’est elle que je préfère.

 

Plus

Châssis

Comportement moderne

Confort de suspension

Moins

Moteur peu expansif

Mode d’emploi particulier

 

La McLaren défend une froide perfection et un souci d’efficacité sans états d’âme. A l’image de la marque et de la Formule 1. Sur circuit, elle a un potentiel de vitesse en courbe jamais vu sur une routière, qui plus est confortable. Mais elle n’a pas le lyrisme et le pouvoir émotionnel d’une Ferrari, au demeurant peut-être aussi efficace. Mais cérébrale, plus instinctive, elle est née d’un savoir-faire ancestral.

Ferrari 458 Italia 19/20

McLaren MP4-12C 18/20

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28 juillet 2011 4 28 /07 /juillet /2011 20:00

mclaren mp412c 003Is it real opinion/journalism or just rivalery between different publications, but Steve Sutcliffe has a different opinipon in this week's Autocar about the recent last minute modifications of the MP4-12C. I would have liked to read such positive opinion on the car when the comparo has been published in order to counter-balance the conclusion quite clearly in favour of the Ferrari 458 and its different approach of the supercar concept.

 

You may or may not be surprised to know that I was both amused and slightly disappointed to discover that McLaren is “tweaking” the MP4-12C to give it more emotional appeal. Or, to be more accurate, to make it noisier following criticism from us press types that it lacks aural drama beside a Ferrari 458 Italia.

When I went on the production prototype launch of the 12C, way back in January, the good people from McLaren went to great lengths to explain how the 12C wasn’t meant to be as extrovert as the 458, period. “It’s a more advanced, more precise kind of car, we feel, so it doesn’t need to make so much noise to get that point across,” one engineer told me at the time.

In the end, I spent four days driving a pair of 12Cs back to the UK, during which time I fell for the car book, line and sinker, I have to admit. Because that’s what tends to happen, basically, when you spend so long behind the wheel of what is undoubtedly a very good car. Inevitably, you end up focusing on the good stuff, allowing the less good aspects to fade gracefully into the background.

Despite this, one of the things that we – the various engineers from McLaren and I – did talk about quite a lot on our road trip was the noise that the 12C makes (or made) in comparison with the 458. To begin with, I was curiously disappointed by the lack of aural stimulation from its twin-turbo V8. Yet the more time I spent in the car, the better I thought it sounded – to a point where, at the end of four days, I thought it sounded fantastic.

Not loud for the sake of being loud, but just really rather sophisticated and, I dunno, very technical-sounding somehow. There was just an awful lot of unusual noises to listen to, albeit at less volume than in a Ferrari, and at all sorts of different points throughout the rev range. In its way, I thought the 12C sounded every bit as intriguing as a 458, even though its decibel count was lower – as it always will be when you attach a pair of turbos to the side of any engine.

Point is, I came away from that initial experience of the 12C with a very clear belief that this was a car that had a personality all of its own. The 12C was not trying to be a Ferrari. It was something more subtle than a bright red car with a deafening exhaust note and steering so responsive that it makes your heart thump faster – and not necessarily in a good way – even at 25mph.

I genuinely believed (partly because McLaren has so genuinely told me so during the previous four days) that the 12C was more grown-up than that. It wasn’t meant to be a car for posing in along the seafront at Puerto Banus. It was a machine for people who appreciate the business of driving quickly. Therefore, it didn’t need a blaring exhaust or ‘will it, won’t it’ steering merely to make it feel fast.

Now though, just because one or two magazines have said that it doesn’t sound as exciting as a Ferrari, McLaren is going to change the 12C to suit. It’ll have a “fruitier” sound (but only inside the cabin) and more aggressive throttle response, both of which will provide “an emotional increase when you drive the car”. Can you imagine Ferrari changing its mind about such fundamental issues at such a late stage in the programme?

Nor can I.And the thing is, I’m still not sure who’s right: we journos for being so hard to please, Ferrari for being so stubborn, or McLaren for displaying the flexibility (or is that lack of confidence?) in changing its mind.

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24 juillet 2011 7 24 /07 /juillet /2011 09:30

mclaren mp412c 061Comparison done on European ground (UK), it features the McLaren MP4-12C, the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Porsche 911 GT2 RS. This is the first comparison won (by a wisker) by the McLaren -  in opposition to Bristish magazines, Car & Driver is using 'objectve' numbers rather than emotions to find a winner. Review of the McLaren below.

 

Tales of McLaren Group boss Ron Dennis’s obsession with organization and precision are legion. In many ways, the MP4-12C is the roadgoing embodiment of his compulsions. Take the center-mounted tachometer: in most cars, a blip of the throttle sends the rev needle up and back like a ball tossed in the air, slowing at its peak. Not so in the 12C. Rev the twin-turbo V-8 in neutral and the needle sweeps steadily, stops abruptly, and goes back down at the same steay pace.

Next to the overly elaborate GT2 RS and the curvaceous Ferrari, the 12C is almost understated. The main attractions here are the dihedral doors, which pivot up and out after a light massage under their lips, which activates a sensor to open the latches. Ingress is easy – simply step in and sit down. Climbing out over the wide sill is tougher.

Get into the McLaren after driving the Porsche or Ferrari, and the differences are apparent – maybe only to a small degree, but the small things matter here. The seats fit perfectly. The range of steering-wheel adjustments for rake and reach will accommodate the most acrobatic of driving positions. The cowl eight is low, which gives the 12C even better forward visibility than the two other cars here, although the Ferrari’s lower rear end provides a better view straight back. The McLaren is built around the driver. The setaing position is farther inboard than in the Ferrari, which gives the 12C a narrower feel and lends the driver a better sense of the car’s placement on the road.

Comfort and visibility also help make better use of the McLaren’s power, which propels it forward to the best acceleration times in the test. Its 13.9-second 0-to150-mph time is half-a-second quicker then the second-place GT2 RS’s. You wouldn’t know by the engine note, which is muted compared with the Porsche’s and Ferrari’s. Switching the drive mode to “sport” or “track” pipes more of the sound into the cabin, but it doesn’t change the fact that much of the noise is lost in the sound-damping turbochargers. The quiet highway ride is nice, but when you pay for 593 horsepower, you don’t want to hear them only at high revs.

The dial adjacent to the drive mode controls the chassis and the 12C’s trick suspension, dubbed Proactive Chassis Control (PCC). If there is a single key to the 12c’s brilliance, it is this. Through an interconnected system of hydraulic fluid and nitrogen, PCC allows for the separation of roll stiffness from suspension reactions at each wheel. In “normal” mode, it gives the 12C a ride like a family sedan’s. Turn the dial to “track”, and it’s nearly as stiff and unyielding as the GT2 RS. Even on the waviest of road surfaces, the McLaren stays vacuumed to the tarmac.

The 12C is a car of total coordination. The superior visibility grants the driver greater confidence, and the suspension compliance allows for full use of the brakes and engine. Add in linear power delivery, a smooth brake pedal, and predictable steering, and you have a vehicle that, however monstrously powerful, feels like and extension of yourself. Everything in the McLaren works exactly as expected, allowing you to adjust your speed in small increments and, ultimately, get from point A to point B quicker than in the two other cars.

The 12C is maybe a millimetre short of perfect, though. At low speeds, the gearbox and brakes conspire to make creeping stops difficult to modulate. Over single-wheel bumps, an audible “thunk” resonates through the carbon-fiber chassis. Our prototype test car lacked a functioning infotainment system.

By most indications, however, McLaren has elevated the supercar. The MP4-12C offers a range of capability not seen before. It’s the sort of car that can be driven across the country and straight onto the track, with no compromise on either end of that spectrum. For now, it’s as close as you can get to eternal automotive bliss.

+ Highly versatile suspension, smooth power delivery, comfortable cabin

- Somewhat lacking in soul, difficult to exit with grace, unproven reliability

= An astonishing combination of refinement and performance in a user-friendly package


You can find scans of the full article on German Car Forum.

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