McLaren 12C

Built In Surrey, Powered In Sussex

Words by Maarten Hoffmann

Until very recently, if you wanted a beautifully crafted supercar that was a rock solid financial investment, you sent your Euro cheque off to Italy. But no more, as there is an upstart from Surrey calling your name – as long as you have a spare £170,000 knocking around.

The McLaren 12c is pure British engineering at its very best and produced from a magnificent new lakeside factory in Woking, Surrey by a boss with obsessive compulsive disease. Ron Dennis, having left the Formula 1 team in subordinate hands, has taken on the herculean task of building a Ferrari beating world-class supercar and having just had the pleasure of driving the little tyke, all l can say is he’s done it, with bells on.

Under the hood is a relatively small twin-turbo V8 of unprecedented efficiency and power, a carbon fibre tub chassis using a revolutionary design process and totally independent double wishbone suspension so widely adjustable that the 12c can drive like a soft saloon or a pure-bred race car. And all from a factory without a hair out of place, with no dust or oil stains and an obsessive attention to detail. McLarens unique engine produces a spectacular 616bhp at 7500rpm and best of all? The engine is designed and built at the end of the runway at Shoreham Airport in Sussex by discreet engineering firm Ricardo.

Drop into the cabin, or rather launch control, and you will find quite a business-like interior with few of the flashy Ferrari touches. The steering wheel is small and pleasantly thin and is free from any buttons – it is reserved for steering and steering only with all controls being on the stalk. It is apocalyptically quick with 0-60 coming in a blurred 3.3secs and 100 in 6.7secs. I drove the Ferrari 458 last year and posted 0-60 in 3.4 but this is from a 4.5 litre engine with ‘only’ 562bhp. Quite how McLaren have managed this feat of technical genius would take several pages to explain, but wow!

We should be rightfully proud of British or dare l say, Sussex engineering – the 12c is set to trump Ferrari and all their fanfare and Italian pomp – the 12c is faster, cheaper, more economical and a revolutionary step forward.

In short, a Ferrari killer.