The Italian Junkyard

Thoughts, ideas, criticism about cars. Interesting news and facts from the world of the automobile. Events in Italy and Modena. What you can find elsewhere, filtered through the eyes of a discerning enthusiast. Design, style, everything on the chopping block. Nobody is safe anymore.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

8.1 Genesis of the brand new McLaren MP4-12C

It was a bit of a revolution when McLaren Automotive unveiled its new supercar, the MP4-12C.
While claiming astonishing figures as the lowest CO2 emissions per bhp, and new technologies such as the first ever road going carbon fiber monocoque made in only one piece, instead of many parts then merged together, possibly the most important fact was that a new contender entered this competitive market.
Perhaps in all this wind of new stuff and intriguing perspectives, they forgot to place correctly the suspensions' wishbones in the explode featured on the website...high engineering indeed.

If you check each component during the navigation of the page the suspension is correctly assembled and showed by the way.

Also, you should pay a bit more attention to the underfloor of your car when you are shooting it on a mirror-finished pavement...

Follow the jump for more.

McLaren isn't new to this kind of product, I mean cars, not PR mistakes. First with the basically never born 1969 M6 GT and then with the highly acclaimed and awarded iconic 1993 F1, which stormed trough the nineties and still represents a benchmark even if its performance has been (partially) overcame.

This is completely different though, as the MP4-12C is intended to be more of a sportscar rather than an hyper-ultra-absurd car. Avoiding pointless and meaningless definition, while the M6 GT was more of an homologation special, sort of, and while the F1 was meant to be something simply over the top, this, the MP4, is made to ruin the dreams of affirmed companies and names, such as Ferrari and its mid engined berlinettas such as the new 458 Italia, and Lamborghini with their impressive Gallardo in its various iterations.

Surely it has been a long way down to what we saw in those pretty sterile shots.
We could probably set the clock back to 2005, as it seems to have been the year when it all started.

But what do you do when the last car you built was designed by a genius under the name of Gordon Murray, who left the company after you forced it to design an household appliance instead of the new Mercedes-Benz super rocket?
You set a new company, because the relationship with Mercedes-Benz aren't that good anymore, as they were all expecting something more from the SLR.

To be honest, I don't know what people were expecting from it.
Was it fast? Heck, yes, if you believe test engineers tales, the folks from Stuttgart were having a tough time trying to leave the SLRs in the dust in their uber-rocket, the Carrera GT.
And if you are into Top Gear, you should know the SLR was just 1 second (or was it 0.9 tenths? Can't remember) slower than the same Carrera GT.
Now for a much less extreme car, somehow even more comfortable and surely easier to drive, which weights 392 kg more (kerb weight), and has only 14 bhp more and that jurassic 5 speed automatic gearbox, that's an impressive achievement.

They say it sold less cars than expected, but as far as I can remember, they planned since the beginning to build 1.500 cars or so, and as far as I know, they sold them all if not even more (considering all the limited editions the car spanned out).
I think the SLR suffers from two things: poor marketing a bad perception. It isn't that heavy in this new era of supercars and GTs. Take the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano. It weights basically the same as the SLR.
Yes, the SLR has a carbon fiber chassis, but the 599's aluminum one isn't heavy, and it also came 3 years later. Want to talk about the Murcielago, or the Vanquish?

All cars are getting heavier, and if you want this much of comfort, and they are getting a lot heavier.
The reviews about the SLR called for an excellent handling, capable of crisping the road someone said, and then that engine...just WOW, what a sound.

The thing is Mercedes-Benz called and advertised it as a supercar. If they would have gone for an uber-fast GT, which is what it actually is after all, it would have being fine. How can you call supercar something so heavy, with automatic gearbox, power-everything and...Paris Hilton driving one?!
You can't, so here you go your bad marketing and the bad perception.

McLaren, and even Mercedes did an excellent work, technically. The car is an excellent compromise between performance and touring, but that's something no one bothers to consider.
Then I could even add the SLR is damn good looking, especially the rear end, but that's just me perhaps...

This was the previous shot.
The new was is all about McLaren and no one else.
Even the engine was developed in house which is kind of a first as in motorsports activities McLaren always used outsourced engines, and so for the the road going projects.
What is, at least partially, outsourced is the style.

I Said it was somewhere during 2005 that McLaren gave the green light to the project, as at the beginning of 2006 the “Istituto Europeo di Design” aka IED aka “European Institute of Design” and McLaren engaged themselves in a project which would have provided to the first a theme for the final thesis of the three years course in Transportation Design, and a few ideas to the latter.

But let's take it one step at a time...

All Images Copyright: McLaren Automotive (ok, even the screenshot!)

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