Erin Baker of the Telegraph says that the MP4-12C, which goes on sale in early 2011 with a price tag of about £150,000. Telegraph Motoring viewed the car at McLaren Automotive's headquarters in Woking last week and was briefed on the plans for a range of sports cars from the new company, headed by former F1 McLaren boss, Ron Dennis.
The 12C follows the McLaren F1 supercar, which had a top speed of 240mph in the mid-Nineties, and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, which ended production earlier this year. A McLaren spokesman said this week:
At the 12C's heart lies a carbon fibre monocoque (a tub light enough for two men to lift), a structure that McLaren insists means new standards in handling, ride, performance, safety, economy and practicality. Behind the rear seats sits a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 with 600bhp, that is driven through a McLaren seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, controlled via steering-wheel mounted paddles.
McLaren claims the car has more power per gram of CO2 than any car that's not fully electric; not so surprising given that most hybrids concentrate on economy rather than power, but impressive nonetheless.
A handling feature called Brake Steer, a development of an electronic system used by the F1 team, brakes the inside rear wheel when the car is entering a corner too quickly, to stop the car understeering. It also works on acceleration out of the corner when the inside rear might spin.
Inside, driver and passenger sit close to minimise the car's width. There are climate controls on each door, a digital display and huge central rev counter in the middle of the instrument cluster, a free-floating tunnel console with transmission buttons and launch control, and cup holders beneath it.
As for the difficult economic conditions, Ron Dennis said, "What we are offering is a new approach to the market, through a skilled, solid, debt-free and risk-managed company. McLaren is right to take this step now and support future growth of high-technology manufacturing and engineering jobs in the UK."
The 12C faces stiff competition from the new, well-received Ferrari 458, which McLaren admits is the benchmark, as well as the Porsche 911 Turbo, Bentley Continental GT and Aston Martin DB9.