Used 2012 McLaren MP4-12C
Used 2012 McLaren MP4-12C for Sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2012 McLaren MP4-12C utilizes high technology and race-proven smarts to deliver otherworldly performance.
McLaren. The name alone evokes memories both of the popular Formula 1 racing team and one of the rarest, most expensive supercars ever built. This niche manufacturer's latest creation, the MP4-12C, will likely inspire the same enthusiasm as the million-dollar McLaren F1 did throughout the 1990s. Yet the 2012 McLaren MP4-12C is a departure from those previous blank-check endeavors; it's meant to be an "affordable" exotic, one that sets you back just $230,000.
For the money, wealthy driving enthusiasts will enjoy a truly superb sports car. A 3.8-liter V8 with an exceptional amount of twin-turbo boost howls with 592 horsepower, while a dual-clutch, seven-speed automated manual transmission provides blindingly fast, nearly seamless shifts. Lightweight construction, a midengine layout and an advanced suspension design that trades stabilizer bars for specialized dampers make the MP4-12C an exceptional handling machine.
The McLaren's styling doesn't flash like some might expect of an exotic. Instead, it's a purposeful and uncluttered execution that lets the package's dynamic performance do the talking. Even so, the dihedral hinged doors that pivot upwards from the A-pillar give this car a unique look.
Within the price category of $250,000 exotics (!), the MP4-12C faces heady competition from the 2012 Ferrari 458 Italia, 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo and 2012 Porsche 911 GT2 RS. With company like this, it's impossible to pick a loser, let alone suggest a winner. It's safe to say, however, that the 2012 McLaren MP4-12C will be an object of automotive lust for quite some time.
Trim levels & features
The two-passenger, midengine, rear-wheel-drive 2012 McLaren MP4-12C is available in one trim level. Standard features include 19-inch front wheels and 20-inch rear wheels, bi-xenon headlights with washers, power-folding and heated outside mirrors, LED driving lights, an active airbrake, an adaptive suspension with three driving modes, cruise control, manually adjustable seats (power height adjustment for the driver), leather upholstery and trim with faux suede seat inserts, a 7-inch touchscreen display and a four-speaker stereo with Bluetooth streaming audio, a USB port and iPod integration.
Options are plentiful and pricey. Buyers who want a color other than white, silver or blue will pay for the privilege. Other add-ons include contrasting color or carbon-fiber body elements, parking sensors, lightweight wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes, painted brake calipers, a sport exhaust, a full leather interior, carbon-fiber interior trim, power-adjustable heated seats and a navigation system with upgraded surround-sound audio. A Stealth Pack option puts a dark finish to the exhaust tips and rear wing supports, but unfortunately doesn't make the MP4-12C undetectable to police radar.
Performance & mpg
The 2012 McLaren MP4-12C is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 making 592 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The only available gearbox is a dual-clutch seven-speed automated manual transmission that drives the rear wheels. In Edmunds testing, the MP4-12C accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, a very impressive time for an exotic without all-wheel drive.
Standard safety equipment for the 2012 McLaren MP4-12C includes antilock disc brakes, front, side curtain and knee airbags for the driver and passenger, hill-start assist, and traction and stability control. Carbon-ceramic brake rotors are available as an option. In Edmunds testing, an MP4-12C (with the standard brakes) came to a stop from 60 mph in 106 feet, a short but otherwise unexceptional distance for an exotic sports car.
The 2012 McLaren MP4-12C's V8 at cruise might sound too sedate for some enthusiasts, but pinning the throttle to the floor in the Track setting (or buying the optional sport exhaust) will offer a more visceral soundtrack that rivals anything in the production car realm. In a similar vein, the lack of a traditional manual transmission might cause some enthusiasts to complain, but the McLaren's dual-clutch seven-speed automated manual is as good as it gets, with rapid-fire upshifts and impeccably precise matched-rev downshifts.
The MP4-12C is a car that inspires flattery at the highest levels. The precision and palpable feel of the steering rivals the best from Ferrari and Porsche. Combine this with a suspension system that offers real-world compliance with otherworldly poise, and you've got one of the best sports cars ever made. The credit goes to the technically advanced active suspension and the MP4-12C's incredibly effective (yet unobtrusive) electronic driving aids. Whether it's accelerating, braking or ripping through high-g turns, the McLaren delivers uncommon body control -- no squat, dive or roll to speak of. No other car, exotic supercar or otherwise, can claim this wide range of talents at any price.
Styling elements rooted in racing history accent the MP4-12C's cabin, but overall the environment is understated and free of superfluous touches. The standard faux suede dash resists windscreen glare and the seats keep occupants firmly in place. The main interior feature -- a narrow center stack that floats gracefully from the dash and sweeps between the seats -- houses most of the system controls.
With multiple driver-selectable settings for the suspension and powertrain, plus infotainment controls, the center stack could be a confusing mess of buttons and switches. But McLaren has artfully integrated everything into a simple, elegant presentation, with the touchscreen display oriented vertically to maximize available space. The dual-zone climate controls are smartly relocated to the doors.
Don't expect to haul much more than the proverbial butt, though; similar in size to that of a Porsche 911, the McLaren's front trunk accommodates a very small 5.1 cubic feet.
Features & Specs
More About This Model
Before today, debates on the performance of rear- and midengine cars generally boiled down to Ferrari vs. Porsche. But now, the 2012 McLaren MP4-12C threatens to stand alone beyond either. To quote the less-than-humble McLaren boss, Sir Ron Dennis, "It is the best-handling sports car in history."
And he should know.
Dennis was the team principal of the McLaren Formula 1 team between 1981 and 2009 and is the executive chairman of McLaren Automotive — the company responsible for the legendary McLaren F1 and SLR McLaren. When Dennis says a car handles well, we're willing to listen.
But to see for ourselves, we joined McLaren at the 17-turn, 2.9-mile racing circuit at Portimão in southern Portugal. There we experienced the full range of driving conditions — dry track, damp track, good and bad public roads and the car's comfort and track setups. It was demonstrated, in no uncertain terms, that McLaren has achieved a breakthrough.
Greater Than the Sum of...
Accomplishing world-beating status demands a world-beating powertrain and McLaren delivers with its 592-horsepower 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 and rear-mounted, Graziano-built seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox. The massive power is a product of high boost (21.8 psi) and a nauseating 8,500-rpm redline. There's a long shelf of torque (443 pound-feet) extending from 3,000-7,000 rpm.
But perhaps the greatest point of contention surrounding the MP4-12C's specs was McLaren's choice to use an open differential and brake-steer technology borrowed from Formula 1. Traditionally, the idea of using the brakes to go faster has been a failure. McLaren's brake steer system operates on the inner rear wheel in fast corners. It observes steering angle and predicted trajectory with the goal of eliminating understeer and wheelspin at exit. And it works — seamlessly and invisibly. We were able to polish off most of Portimão's curves without breaking the customary sweat.
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, too, is a joy to operate. Because the shift paddles are mounted on a rocker, the driver can favor one hand over the other to perform both up- and downshifts — pushing on one paddle or pulling on the other — to accomplish the same shift. In Track mode, the shifts aren't just fast, but smooth. This is aided by the use of the Pre-Cog function where the shift paddle is preloaded so that when the shift is requested (with a full pull at around 7,500 rpm on upshifts), it's instantaneous — thanks to years of Formula 1 field testing.
Leave the transmission in Automatic mode with all "normal" settings engaged, and we were just as impressed with its functionality over southern Portugal's variety of roads as we were by its ability to dominate the track.
The Physics of Speed
Despite McLaren's encouragement to wean ourselves off the need for carbon-ceramic brakes, our test cars on track had the optional carbon stoppers and they are magnificent. Still, the standard two-piece iron-aluminum rotors — 14.6-inch front, 13.8-inch rear — get the job done.
The brakes are aided on the track by an air brake that substantially increases deceleration of the 2,945-pound machine. A fore/aft weight distribution of 42.5/57.5 — nearly identical to the Ferrari 458 Italia — makes the dynamics even more lively. The McLaren, with an 0.8-inch-longer wheelbase, is 1 inch shorter overall. Its well-planned interior, however, buys space and shrewdly shifts human mass to the middle.
McLaren offers multiple weight-saving options that are capable of reducing the car's weight to 2,868 pounds. They include "superlight" wheels, carbon sport seats (Recaros are standard), Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires, a carbon splitter and diffuser, a sport exhaust and the aforementioned carbon-ceramic brakes.
Every element of the McLaren works together to create a lower polar moment of inertia than any Ferrari or Porsche. Bending and twisting rigidity are higher than any model from those brands as well — two qualities which manifest themselves in the MP4-12C's handling. Getting the new McLaren to do whatever we wanted it to do was easier than an Ariel Atom or Lotus 2-Eleven track toy, only here those dynamic qualities are joined by all the refinement and substance required in this segment. A risky statement, maybe, but also a powerful differentiator.
Besides the car's insane powertrain, McLaren built sophisticated chassis control into the MP4-12C, which it calls Proactive.
There are two chief command clusters on the narrow center console: "H" means handling and it sets the suspension, steering and stability control for Normal, Sport or Track; "P" means powertrain and has the same modes for throttle mapping, gearshifts and management of the intake plenum tone inside the cabin. At the center of the H cluster is the "Aero" button for fixing the air-brake rear wing at 15 degrees. The transmission is locked in Manual mode if you press the "Manual" button at the center of the P cluster. But before you fiddle with any of these controls, you'll need to punch the "Active" button right at the center of all things near your right hand.
As expected on any track, we immediately selected the settings with the Aero and Manual buttons lit. The McLaren's adaptive dampers with hydraulic roll control perform sensational duty under the highest lateral g-forces with no help from mechanical antiroll bars front or rear. In the same sense, there is no nosedive under torturous braking, nor any lift while exploring launch control.
With things kept so constantly level, we were liberated to seek out every talent of the MP4-12C, and discovered that its chassis does require some getting used to. Like a trophy truck dancing though the whoops, there's a sense of isolation here that belies the available control. The car sticks to the tarmac at all four corners on big Pirelli P Zero tires — 235/35 ZR19 front, 305/30 ZR20 rear. Initially we were overwhelmed with the chassis' abilities, but soon enough got on with the business of accomplishing all the things that its competition can't.
Take a Stare
To most, the MP4-12C is not the most astonishingly beautiful design in its class. Many at McLaren, including Design Director Frank Stephenson, freely admit that certain angles can challenge the eye. They've also already heard every possible "It looks a lot like a..." comment, so they're unflappable on the topic. For us, it is most influenced by the original McLaren F1.
The brash treatment of the twin side intakes catches our eye. They gulp in cooling air at a ferocious rate to gust over the longitudinally oriented radiators flanking the V8.
The rear fascia looks as if it's from a different design school than the rest of the car. But, even here, the Bugatti-like air brake pops straight up under the hardest braking and it becomes one of the most captivating rear ends around.
Every such discussion about the car as it sits still comes to the point that you have to drive it and it then becomes a most beautiful thing. The McLaren people certainly think so, and even humble chief test-driver Chris Goodwin told us, "There's no other car that could do that section that quickly," after scorching through the very technical first sequence of curves at Portimão. There's a definite beauty to that.
While a Nürburgring Nordschleife lap time has not been made public yet, McLaren personnel are saying that recent testing on many of the world's most significant tracks puts the MP4-12C comfortably ahead of any current competitors. Top speed so far has been recorded at 210 mph at Nardò in southern Italy, while 0-60 acceleration on standard P Zero tires is claimed at 3.2 seconds with the standard tires and just 3.0 seconds with optional P Zero Corsa rubber.
McLaren claims the 0-125-mph time in cars using the Corsa tires and the other lightening options is just 8.9 seconds, significantly humbling all current Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis. It's even quicker to this speed than the Enzo. If these numbers hold, only the horribly expensive Bugatti Veyron remains faster.
While the biturbo exhaust sound of the MP4-12C doesn't make us cry from happiness, there's always the sport exhaust option. And, in any case, just switch the P cluster to Track mode and a resonance tube from the intake plenum pipes more sound into the cabin.
For this first partial calendar year McLaren will build roughly 1,000 units — about a third of which are destined for the States. By 2015 things will be operating full-tilt to produce 4,000 units annually, spread over this and two other models. MP4-12C deliveries in the U.S. begin by early September 2011 at the nine anointed showrooms nationwide (plus one in Toronto, eh).
And as McLaren has racing in its blood, there are very ambitious factory and privateer racing plans not far down the road, beginning with the MP4-12C GT version currently testing. All 2012 McLaren MP4-12C buyers can sign up for a new McLaren Owner Experience that will teach them how to squeeze all the juice possible from this world-beater.
And, based on our initial drive and McLaren's insane acceleration claims, there's plenty of juice to squeeze.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored press event to facilitate this report.
Used 2012 McLaren MP4-12C Overview
The Used 2012 McLaren MP4-12C is offered in the following submodels: MP4-12C Coupe. Available styles include 2dr Coupe (3.8L 8cyl Turbo 7AM).
What's a good price on a Used 2012 McLaren MP4-12C?
Price comparisons for Used 2012 McLaren MP4-12C trim styles:
- The Used 2012 McLaren MP4-12C Base is priced between $109,500 and$109,500 with odometer readings between 20191 and20191 miles.
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Should I lease or buy a 2012 McLaren MP4-12C?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.