By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
McLaren cut its teeth on the great racetracks of Europe so, in 2012, when it decided to produce a street-legal car worthy of wearing its name, the whole world knew it was going to be something special. The MP4-12C supercar for 2014 continues to astound its owners and confound long-time greats Ferrari, Bugatti and Lamborghini. The MP4-12C easily ranks among the top ten great exotic cars for 2014, delivering 616 horsepower from its mid-mounted V8 engine for blistering performance both on and off the track. And, British tastes being what they are, McLaren's MP4-12C is fitted with an elegant interior for two and a price tag befitting its lofty status.
Whether you're cruising the Hamptons or just out for a spin through the Alps, you don't want to be seen in the same Ferrari 458 as everyone else. McLaren's 2014 MP4-12C sports car can keep pace with its rivals, yet proves a comfortable and easy-to-drive exotic on common roadways.
McLaren has halted – perhaps temporarily – production of the 2014 MP4-12C to make room for the 650S. However, if you really want one, odds are the Special Operations team can likely build one for you. Nice, huh?
Driving Impressions With 616 horsepower and an F1 pedigree under its belt, one might think the 2014 McLaren 12C Coupe and Spider would be beasts to drive. But the truth is the...... multi-adjustable performance settings allow this supercar to feel quite at home on urban streets and shady boulevards. Flip the console-mounted switch from "Normal" to "Sport", however, and the 12C's racing heritage quickly becomes evident. The comfortable ride stiffens and the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic snaps through its gears faster than a gnat can blink. Acceleration from the twin-turbocharged V8 is blistering, capable of propelling the McLaren 12C Coupe from zero to 60 mph in just three seconds (3.1-seconds for the Spider). The MP4-12C is adept in the corners, even at high rates of speed, aided by an electronic system that applies brake force to help the car keep moving in the direction intended, not spinning wildly into a concrete wall (or unsuspecting shrubbery, depending upon your venue).
LUXURY RIDE QUALITY
While we can all attest to the 2014 MP4-12C's prowess on the track, it may surprise many exotic car owners just how well the car behaves in everyday driving. While not Bentley-smooth, the 12C won't jar your teeth loose or dislodge a kidney when tackling ordinary surface distortions.
FOLDING HARD TOP
For 2014, the McLaren MP4-12C Spider convertible permits you to enjoy the thrill of open-air driving, but can revert back to coupe-like comfort when the weather becomes nasty. The 2-piece retractable hardtop can be lowered at speeds up to 19 mph and the operation is just 17 seconds from start to finish.
Getting into a McLaren MP4-12C supercar isn't exactly an elegant affair. The upward-opening doors are a nice touch, but you still need to drape yourself across the wide doorsill before finally settling into the low seat. Once inside, though, the car is quite comfortable. The two seats are appropriately bolstered, and to McLaren's credit there is even cargo space on a bench behind the seats. Directly in front of the driver is the large oval instrumentation that will let you know when you're traveling at Go-To-Jail speeds. Spider models feature a rear glass panel that can be lowered to let in more engine noise.Exterior
For hard-core car enthusiasts the McLaren MP4-12C has more curves covered by more scintillating skin than a supermodel. Massive air intakes adorn the MP4's sides, while even the vertical-opening doors are works of design magic. Up front, long and trapezoidal headlights are reminiscent of Ferraris, and the rear boasts high-mounted exhausts that howl from above, not below, the bumper. The McLaren's mid-mounted V8, meanwhile, is displayed under a panel of glass for all to see. Spider models have a 2-piece retractable hardtop and dual-purpose tonneau that protects the retracted roof or, with the roof up, covers a small cargo space.
The 2014 McLaren MP4-12C comes with a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with manual capability, 19-inch wheels in front and 20-inch wheels at rear, bi-xenon headlights, cruise control, a 7-inch touchscreen monitor, dual-zone climate control and a Meridian 4-speaker sound system with AM/FM/USB/hard drive and iPod integration. The Coupe and Spider also feature a unique Intake Sound Generator system that lets drivers vary the amount of engine noise entering the cabin.
The McLaren MP4-12C options include carbon-ceramic brakes (nearly $14,000 alone), power-adjustable seats, parking sensors, custom interior trims including Alcantara, an upgraded audio system with satellite navigation and exterior bits that include carbon-fiber engine panels. An upgraded exhaust system that's lighter and louder than the standard one can be had for even more aural pleasure. A "Stealth Pack" doesn't make the car invisible, but rather finishes the rear airbrake and exhaust pipe in a polished metallic finish, with the aim of giving the 12C a more aggressive rear.
The heart of every McLaren MP4-12C for 2014 is a twin-turbo V8 engine that makes 616 horsepower. All that power is transferred to the rear wheels via a dual-clutch 7-speed transmission that can shift automatically or manually via F1-style paddle shifters. In a car that weighs around 3,000 pounds, all this ferocity makes for a vehicle that can hit a top speed of 207 mph and blast to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds.
3.8-liter twin-turbo V8
616 horsepower @ 7,500 rpm
443 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000-7,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg
At over $242,000, the 2014 McLaren MP4-12C exotic Coupe isn't exactly a good choice for folks who enjoy practicing self-denial, or for those who might be interested in using that kind of cash to buy something more pragmatic. Like a house. The topless 12C Spider convertible variant adds even more to the bottom line, with a starting price around $268,000. Options on this car can quickly add up to tens of thousands more. At these prices, the MP4-12C is comparable to a Ferrari 458 Italia, about $40,000-$50,000 more than a base Lamborghini Gallardo and Aston Martin DB9, and well over $100,000 more than the Audi R8's starting price. Be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for the 2014 McLaren 12C. Since the 2014 McLaren 12C will be available in very limited quantities at best, we expect its value to hold up well in the years ahead.