McLaren MP4-12CEnlarge Photo
The suspension is based on double wishbones with coil springs. The dampers are interconnected hydraulically and provide adaptive responses depending on both road conditions and driver preference. The Proactive system features adjustable roll control which replaces the standard mechanical anti-roll bars. There are three suspension modes that are selected on the Active Dynamics Panel. There is a 'normal', a 'sport' mode and a high performance mode which adjusts numerous parameters in the system.
Another feature that helps the MP4-12C to handle at a new level is a development of an electronic system used by McLaren's 1997 MP4/12 Formula 1 car--Brake Steer. In essence, it is a system that brakes the inside rear wheel when the car is entering a corner too quickly to make the desired radius. Under normal circumstances the front would wash away wide of the apex the driver wants to touch: in other words, the car is in a state of understeer.
Brake Steer manages the tendency of a car to wash out and brings its nose back on line. It assesses the steering angle to determine the driver's intended course and applies the inside rear brake to increase yaw rate and resume the desired course. The system also works on acceleration out of a corner when the inside rear has a tendency to spin, allowing the driver to put power down more quickly. It controls what a limited slip differential would do and obviates the need for such a complex and heavy unit, thus saving more valuable pounds.
The end result of all this high-tech gear is some serious performance numbers. McLaren is claiming a 0-62 mph time of less than 3.0 seconds in initial testing, as well as an 11.0 second quarter mile and a top speed in excess of 200 mph. Vehicle weight will come in at around 2,866 pounds (dry).
Of course, as complete as the MP4-12C is in standard form, there will be customers that will always want to customize their vehicles further. Thus, the car will be available in a palette of 17 exterior paint colors, and a range of interiors in a variety of colors and materials for the seats, dash panel and inner door panels. Other options for the exterior include ordering the mirrors, diffuser, splitter and roof in carbon-fiber. Brake calipers can be specified in three colors, while lightweight forged wheels are also available in a choice of finishes.
Inside, the seats can be specified as electrically-operated and heated, or as a manual lightweight sports seat with carbon-fiber seat backs. Optional goodies include satellite navigation, Wi-Fi access, and voice activation.
Performance options such as carbon ceramic brakes with uprated calipers, a sports exhaust, and cup tires can also be specified.
Production will start at the new McLaren Production Center late this year and if all goes to plan, the first examples of the MP4-12C will start deliveries in the U.S. in the middle of 2011.