2012 McLaren MP4-12C

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ

 

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----  Specifications  ----

Price 

  --

Production 

  --

Engine 

3.8 liter V8

Weight 

2868 lbs

Aspiration 

twin turbocharged

Torque 

443 lb-ft @ 3000 - 7000 rpm

HP 

592 hp @ 7000 rpm

HP/Weight 

4.8 lbs per hp

HP/Liter 

155.8 hp per liter

1/4 mile 

10.9 seconds @ 135 mph

0-62 mph 

3.3 seconds

Top Speed 

205 mph

(from McLaren Press Release)  McLAREN FORMULA 1 TECHNOLOGY DELIVERS ULTIMATE PERFORMANCE ON TRACK AND ROAD IN THE NEW MP4-12C

• Formula 1 integration - technologies, processes and people - inspire the 12C’s headline performance data and record lap times
• 30 years of carbon composite chassis design at McLaren inspires the 12C’s revolutionary carbon MonoCell: the lightweight safety cell, designed around the driver
• Innovative chassis concept offers performance foundation: McLaren Airbrake and McLaren Brake Steer support 12C dynamics; bespoke ProActive Chassis Control suspension and SSG transmission deliver ultimate track times and supreme on road comfort and behaviour
• Debut media test, and first recorded hot-lap, of MP4-12C at Nürburgring Nordschleife captured on film at www.youtube.com/mclarenautomotivetv

In 2011, a McLaren team with experience in developing successful Formula 1 cars and expertise from launching McLaren cars in the past, has launched a new type of sports car. The groundbreaking new MP4-12C features technology born on the race track, and for the first time available in a road car.

The 12C development team has pushed the car to its limits in all climates and driving scenarios in Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Bahrain, the USA, and South Africa, but much of the car’s performance credentials have been honed on the broken surfaces and offset cambers much closer to home; Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, England.

Located close to the McLaren Technology Centre, Dunsfold has proved an effective ‘home’ for the 12C development programme. It is there that bespoke components including the one-piece carbon ‘MonoCell’ chassis, unique Proactive Chassis Control suspension system, race-derived Brake Steer and McLaren Airbrake were first tested and tuned in unison.

Fast laps on world-famous test tracks

Unusually for a development track, Dunsfold is also a very public place: hundreds of millions of people have, in fact, followed cars around its eight corners, having watched Top Gear’s ‘The Stig’, on line and on TV, take the world’s best sports cars to task at the Surrey circuit.

And earlier this year, the McLaren MP4-12C sealed its position at the top of the TV show’s laptime leaderboard, having achieved a record time for a mid-engine sports car, and the fastest lap for a typical road-going performance car. A stunning 1:16.2 lap of Dunsfold Aerodrome at the hands of ‘The Stig’ in a production specification 12C, was particularly rewarding for the dedication displayed by the 12C’s Dunsfold-based development team. http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear/show/powerlaps.shtml.

Prototype versions of the 12C featuring unique race-bred technologies have undertaken test programmes in every imaginable environment, at circuits and proving grounds all over the world. In all cases, data captured by McLaren Electronic Systems telemetry equipment has shown the 12C to be quicker than the lap times set when testing benchmark competitor cars.

In its debut Nürburgring Nordschleife media test, by German performance car specialist publication Sport Auto, Editor-in Chief, and ‘Ring expert, Horst von Saurma-Jeltsch recorded a superb single-lap time of 7:28* in a production specification 12C at the famous circuit. Independent data from Sport Auto shows the 12C in its one and only recorded flying lap to-date to be already ten seconds quicker around ‘The Green Hell’ at the hands of von Saurma-Jeltsch than the nearest Ferrari and quicker even than ‘hypercars’ from Koenigsegg and Pagani.*

The 12C was conceived at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, UK under the same roof as McLaren Racing’s Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team: ‘performance’ lies at the heart of the 12C and the McLaren Automotive team responsible for its design, development, engineering and now manufacture. The result is a car that McLaren believes is faster, more efficient, more agile and even more comfortable than any other sports car in the world. A unique combination of attributes.

MP4-12C performance data highlights

0 - 200kph in 9.1s (8.9s on optional Corsa tyres)
CO2 emissions of 279g/km (equating to 24.2 EU mpg combined)
0 - 100kph in 3.3s (3.1s with optional Corsa tyres)
top speed: 330kph (205mph)
100 - 0 kph in 30.5 m (100 ft)
¼ mile: 10.9s @ 135 mph
dry weight (with lightweight options): 1301kgs / 2868 lbs
carbon MonoCell chassis weight: 75kgs / 165 lbs
power:weight (lightweight options): 461PS / 455bhp per tonne.
power: 600PS (592bhp) at 7,000 rpm
torque: 600Nm between 3,000 – 7,000 rpm
CO2 per horsepower: 0.47

For racing and road: the world’s most advanced simulator

McLaren Automotive undertook an advanced simulation programme to define the technical specification of the 12C, an approach that the McLaren Formula 1 team takes every time it designs a new race car. The McLaren simulator is believed to be the most advanced in motorsport, and was conceived by the Technical Director responsible for the 12C, Dick Glover, during his time in McLaren Racing.

Glover, now occupying a new position as Director of Research, and one of many ex-McLaren Racing experts now at McLaren Automotive, said: “Having the McLaren simulator at our disposal from the start of the 12C development programme has been a tremendous asset.

“We were able to accurately predict the dynamic performance of our very first concept-phase vehicle and ensure that it was suitable for extreme testing from day one. It would be incredibly difficult to achieve similar results if you were designing and building a car without simulation.

“We use professional racing drivers in our development team. Throughout the real-world testing programme we continually schedule time for them in the simulator to fine tune the performance and driving characteristics of the 12C. This experience is then validated back against real-world conditions at one of the test facilities we use around the world. It is an ongoing, dynamic, feedback process that mixes the best of technology with the best hands-on track work,” Glover concluded.

The 12C development team took simulation to a new level as it sought to ensure the prototype cars were pushed to their absolute limits. This innovation in development was put into action at a Spanish test facility reproducing the impact of the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife. The Nordschleife in Germany is regarded as the world’s ultimate test circuit due to its combination of challenging surfaces and 20.81km (12.93m) length. McLaren Automotive visited the Nordschleife on several occasions for periods of sustained testing, but with the circuit being closed during winter months, the development team identified a way of recreating the extreme conditions found at the Nordschleife in a different environment.

Dick Glover said: “We have a permanent test base at the Applus IDIADA proving ground in Northern Spain. Our team of engineers took data from the Nordschleife circuit including lateral g performance, vertical road inputs, engine throttle position and gearing, and created a programme which could be undertaken at IDIADA, which we call the ‘Idi-schleife Concept’.

“This programme allowed us to undertake challenging and aggressive testing to the level experienced at the Nordschleife but at a location where we can run testing literally twenty-four hours, seven days a week and quickly move our cars closer to their development targets,” Glover concluded.

From simulation to reality: ‘Pure McLaren’

Antony Sheriff, McLaren Automotive’s Managing Director: “The overriding principle that has driven us to where we are today is that every one of our cars will be ‘pure’ McLaren. This means that each and every component is conceived, designed and produced to McLaren’s specification to meet the extreme requirements of the 12C, from its revolutionary carbon MonoCell to the switchgear. There are no carryover components in the 12C. Similarly, our test programmes, production processes and aftersales plans are also brand new and bespoke to McLaren.

“One fundamental result of this passion to produce a pure McLaren is that the 12C is what I call the ‘and’ car. Compared to main rivals, it has better performance ‘and’ is more fuel efficient; it is lighter ‘and’ stronger, safer ‘and’ fully equipped; it is smaller in its exterior dimensions ‘and’ spacious inside; it’s handling characteristics will deliver unbeatable track times ‘and’ yet it is more comfortable on road.

“As for the 12C’s performance, efficiency is a key aim; efficiency in performance is a goal that we believe our customers will appreciate. With 600PS it is the most powerful car in its class, yet with a CO2 figures of just 279g/km, when we launched the 12C it produced each horsepower more efficiently than any car on sale today featuring a petrol, diesel or even hybrid engine,” Sheriff concluded.

12C Carbon MonoCell: the essence of a racing car for the road

In 1981 McLaren Racing introduced the carbon monocoque to Formula 1: it offered an unbeatable combination of strength and lightness and, at Silverstone that year, John Watson piloted the MP4-1 to first place in the British Grands Prix, recording the debut win for a carbon-based Formula 1 car.

On October 16th 2011, McLaren competed in its 700th Formula 1 race in South Korea, with Lewis Hamilton taking the racing team’s 200th carbon fibre chassis car to yet another podium position, just a week after Jenson Button took top spot at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Statistics that mean no further explanation is required as to why McLaren settled on a carbon chassis for the MP4-12C: the first carbon chassis in a volume production sports car below £200,000, and the first to be produced as a one-piece moulded chassis. But not the first carbon-based car from McLaren, of course.

The legendary McLaren F1 sports car was the first road car to feature a carbon chassis when it launched in 1993. With 2,153 SLRs manufactured in its seven year production run, the 2003 – 2009 SLR is the most successful car in the £300,000+ price-point and the most successful of any car built on a carbon-fibre chassis. Since 1981, McLaren has never built a car without a carbon chassis.

Now, the 12C takes carbon innovation to a new level. The MonoCell is a unique one-piece moulded chassis that weighs just 75kgs (165lbs). The MonoCell concept required it to provide the perfect combination of occupant space, structural integrity, light weight, and relatively low construction costs. And the ideal chassis from which to deliver ground-breaking efficiency and performance in the sports car market.

Mark Vinnels, Programme Director at McLaren Automotive, said: “With 30 years experience in carbon technology, the physical benefits of carbon are well known at McLaren. What we are now progressing, on the 12C and future models, is making serious in-roads into economies of scale without reducing quality.

“The goal, that we are confident we have achieved, is to bring supercar performance to a new market, combined with never-before achieved levels of efficiency. Having met many of our future customers around the world, there is no doubt that those in the market for high-performance sports cars are looking for cars that offer more than just looks and power. Innovation, technology, and accessible performance are in demand. We believe that the 12C, with a one-piece moulded carbon chassis at its heart, heralds a new future for sports car design,” Vinnels concluded.

The MonoCell is a lightweight, hollow, very strong and predictable structure that is produced in one piece through the Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) process.

The production process begins by loading dry carbon fibre into a complex 35-ton steel tool before it is pressed together, heated and then injected with epoxy resin. Using a steel tool is new to the manufacturing process: historically, carbon chassis’ have been formed in ‘soft’ tooling of composite materials, which adds production costs and time. The subsequent post-curing process hardens the resin, and the MonoCell then enters a booth where key surfaces are machined with great precision in preparation for vehicle assembly. The process between forming and curing produces the MonoCell as a hollow structure, and is the key to the chassis’ combination of strength and light weight.

Once complete, the MonoCell is placed into a unique McLaren-designed test rig and subjected to high stresses, in order to prove that each part is capable of meeting exacting performance standards.

Looking back, the carbon chassis of the McLaren F1 was produced manually and took up to 3,000 hours to complete each unit. The bonded carbon chassis of the SLR reduced that manufacturing time ten-fold. The new carbon manufacturing process developed for the 12C will mean the MonoCell can be produced in a four hour cycle. Investing in this process means McLaren Automotive is making carbon a reality to sports car enthusiasts seeking the ultimate in lightweight and safe chassis construction, at a price point more affordable to a wider market.

Claudio Santoni, Function Group Manager for Body Structures at McLaren Automotive, said: “With the carbon MonoCell, the 12C offers owners more than just exceptional occupant safety. It is incredibly light, which helps reduce the 12C’s CO2 emissions and improve fuel efficiency. For the same reason; acceleration, braking, changes of direction and vehicle stability are all significantly improved. Using a carbon composite means we can manufacture the MonoCell with aerospace industry levels of precision, which is fundamental to accurate dynamic suspension geometry control.”

The advantages that this innovative carbon chassis brings to the sub-£200,000 sports car market are:

Light weight: The 12C MonoCell weighs just 75kgs, some 25 per cent lighter than a comparable aluminium chassis. Carbon fibre forms the structural basis for the whole car and contributes to the car’s low overall weight and overall efficiency.
High torsional rigidity: The MonoCell is 25 per cent stiffer than an equivalent all metal structure and provides the 12C with a higher torsional stiffness to weight ratio than competitors. This inherent rigidity means the unique front suspension system, mounted directly onto the MonoCell, requires less compromise for the flexibility of the suspension itself. Therefore, it is easier to develop the unique balance between supple ride and precise handling that McLaren has targeted.
A very strong safety cell: The MonoCell offers greater occupant safety. It acts as a safety survival cell, as it does for a Formula 1 car.
Ease of repair: Aluminium extrusions and castings are jig welded into the finished assembly and bolted directly to the MonoCell. In an accident, the light weight aluminium alloy front and rear structures absorb impact forces and can be replaced easily, whereas cars with full aluminium chassis use their structure to absorb and crumple on impact, causing more damage (and expense) to the whole structure, including the passenger cell.
Low perishability: Carbon composites do not degrade over time like metal structures that fatigue. One is able to get into a 15-year-old McLaren F1 and there is none of the tiredness or lack of structural integrity that afflicts traditional cars that have suffered a hard life. The 12C will feel as good as new in this respect for decades.
Extreme dimensional accuracy: There is absolute predictability in the production process. In any plane or dimension, between two points, every MonoCell will be within half a millimetre level of accuracy. This ensures an extremeely high level of build quality and predictable performance.

No compromise: Lightweight and efficient new 600PS powertrain

The unique new M838T engine powering the McLaren MP4-12C is a 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine, designed by McLaren Automotive.

Weighing 199kg (439lbs), the M838T features a dry sump lubrication system and a flat plane crankshaft, which has allowed McLaren Automotive’s engineers to place the engine extremely low in the chassis, lowering the 12C’s centre of gravity and in turn optimising the car’s handling responses.

At the rear, high level exhaust pipes exit the car from a mixing box rather than a conventional silencer unit, saving weight. An optional Sport Exhaust system made from Inconel, an extremely heat-resistant nickel-chromium-based alloy, further reduces weight and enhances the exhaust note.

Richard Farquhar, Function Group Manager for Powertrain at McLaren Automotive said: “The decision to design and build a turbocharged engine for the 12C was taken early in the programme. We wanted low weight, low rev range tractability, potent mid-range performance and extensive high-rev reach. All that, and a level of refinement and efficiency from a V8 that perhaps you might not expect. I’m confident that the 12C powerplant delivers on all these aspects.”

Mated to the M838T is a dual clutch, seven-speed ‘SSG’ transmission. Using the Active Dynamics Panel situated in the centre console of the 12C’s cockpit, the characteristics of the SSG transmission can be switched through three different settings: ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Track’ modes. Each provide a progressive immediacy of gear shift, operated through finger-tip controls mounted on a rocker behind the 12C steering wheel: upshift by either pulling with the right hand or pushing with the left, and vice versa to downshift. This ‘one-hand shifting’ principal, and the satisfying mechanical ‘click’ on gearchange, is reminiscent of the shift mechanics introduced and still used in Formula 1 cars.

The SSG system has another trick in its box. If the driver enters a sharp corner too quickly, requiring a strong braking action, there is every chance he will not be in the ideal gear for smooth acceleration out of the corner. If the left-shift control is depressed and held, instead of ‘clicked’, while under braking, the transmission matches engine speed to the correct lowest gear.

‘Automatic’ mode, ‘Launch Control’ and ‘Winter’ modes can also be selected on the Active Dynamics Panel, the latter changing all electronic functions to suit low grip conditions and delivering maximum driver aid and support. There is no traditional manual transmission offered; the two pedal layout offered further scope to create a narrow, lighter, and more comfortable car.

ProActive Chassis Control**

Working to the McLaren mantra of ‘no compromise’, McLaren Automotive’s Vehicle Dynamics engineers set about creating a brand-new suspension system for a sports car that aims to deliver executive car-like ride quality and a sharp, reactive handling response.

ProActive Chassis Control featuring Adaptive Damping provides much higher stiffness in roll compared to conventional suspension systems, and greater comfort in a straight line. The suspension is based on double wishbones with coil springs. The dampers are interconnected hydraulically and linked to a gas-filled accumulator, providing adaptive responses depending on road conditions and driver preference.

Paul Burnham, McLaren Automotive Vehicle Dynamics Manager - and formerly McLaren Racing Senior Vehicle Dynamics Engineer - said: “It is not enough just to be fast. The 12C has to innovate in every area. An anti-roll bar is a common and simple solution to support handling, but the disadvantage is that stiffness is always there, whether the driver requires it or not. It is important to us that the 12C is rewarding and comfortable to drive at low and high speed, on the daily commute and on the track.”

The ProActive system features driver-adjustable roll control which replaces the mechanical anti-roll bars that have been a standard feature of road cars since time immemorial. It allows the car to maintain precise roll control under heavy cornering while decoupling the suspension in a straight line for excellent wheel articulation and compliance.

As with the transmission, but independent from it, 12C drivers are able to select ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ or ‘Track’ settings for the suspension through the Active Dynamics Panel. Each mode is responsible for managing roll control system pressure, Adaptive Damping and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) settings. This ensures bespoke tuning between handling, ride and transmission for focused track activity, dynamic road driving, or comfortable cruising.

Burnham continues: “Adaptive Damping works by electronic sensors monitoring the movement of the body and wheels and only increasing damping when required. We believe Adaptive Damping as part of ProActive Chassis Control is the best system for a driver to set the car to his or her preferred driving modes. Its speed of response is particularly effective!”

The fundamental principle behind ProActive Chassis Control is simple physics: dampers featuring an hydraulic system of high and low pressure valves interconnected left to right, front to back. When high pressure meets high pressure under roll conditions, stiffness results; when high pressure meets low under heave and warp, there is more ‘give’ and comfort prevails. See ‘notes to editors’ for full technical overview of ProActive Chassis Control.

Brake Steer and McLaren Airbrake

Brake Steer is a variation on McLaren’s electronic driver aid used successfully in Formula 1 on the 1997 McLaren MP4-12. It was subsequently banned, indicating its clear performance advantage, but has been developed for the 12C as the control system to prevent wheel spin and improve traction.

Brake Steer does essentially the same job as a ‘torque-vectoring’ differential, but is up to 20 kgs lighter – part of the 12C’s ‘weight-down’ design philosophy. It uses the same hardware to operate as the 12C’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system, preventing wheel spin, reducing understeer, and significantly boosting track times.

In essence, it is a system that applies braking forces to the inside rear wheel when the car is entering a corner too quickly to make the desired radius – supporting either a driver who has misjudged the corner, or a skilled driver seeking the fastest possible entry and exit from a corner. It supports later braking into corners, and earlier power delivery on exiting.

Under normal circumstances these scenarios would tend towards a state of understeer. Brake Steer controls this and makes the car behave in a more neutral fashion, bringing 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 12C’s ESC system is managed electronically by the driver-operated Active Dynamics Panel settings. The 12C provides ample grip and safety in ‘Winter’ or ‘Normal’ modes, yet ESC offers increased slip in ‘Sport’ or ‘Track’ modes. ESC can be switched off by drivers seeking to engage with the limits of the car’s performance in safe environments, but a supremely discreet level of stability control still remains as a final layer of protection.

A unique McLaren Airbrake adds drag and rear downforce when deployed under braking, helping the car to decelerate and meaning more rear brake pressure can be used, hence stopping distances are shortened.

Adding rear downforce also improves the car’s stability under braking to give a more secure feel and optimum track performance: under typical heavy braking, the rear can go ‘light’ as weight is transferred forwards, ‘pushing’ the front of the car down. With an Airbrake, the car behaves as if ‘pulled’ from behind, counteracting the tendency to dive, therefore maintaining traction.

Under heavy braking above 95 km/h, a piston operated by transmission hydraulics raises the Airbrake to 32°. Once the first stage ‘wing angle’ is set, and the Airbrake pushed into the airflow, the centre of aerodynamic pressure forces the bottom of the ‘wing’ back up to 69°: aerodynamics raise the Airbrake to its full and maximum angle rather than relying on a larger, and therefore heavier, motor. This weight-saving solution took almost 50 per cent of weight out of the mechanism.

At the press of a button on the Active Dynamics Panel inside the 12C cabin, the Airbrake can be manually raised to 32°. Chris Goodwin, McLaren Automotive’s Chief Test Driver, said: “This operation allows the driver to significantly adapt the 12C’s handling characteristics. Raising the Airbrake increases downforce and therefore stability through circuit corners. It glues the 12C to the track and the result is clear: a faster lap time!

“The option of engaging the Airbrake is indicative of McLaren DNA present in the 12C. Some performance cars only offer one setting, drama, whereas technology in the 12C, evolved from that designed by McLaren for its Formula 1 cars, produces a range of driving experiences like no other. Owners will enjoy discovering the depths of the 12C’s dynamic performance on road and track, and as you’d expect with race-bred technology, it will be applied in the safest possible package.”

Wheels, tyres and brakes

The wheel and tyre combination selected for the 12C is critical to performance and handling agility. The front wheel diameter is 19” to ensure the sidewall height is large enough to ensure good impact isolation, and maintain excellent aerodynamics.

The MP4-12C is supplied as standard with Silver finish cast aluminium 5-spoke design wheels (8.5”x 19” Front, 11” x 20” Rear). Two wheel upgrade options are available. Lightweight and Super-Lightweight Forged Wheels offer significant weight savings, in turn increasing efficiency and performance. The 5-spoke Lightweight Forged Wheels have a technical appearance and save 6kg, compared to the standard wheels. The 10-spoke Super-Lightweight Forged Wheels offer a pure performance look and are 10kg lighter in total. To date, more than 70 per cent of 12C customers have ordered upgraded Lightweight or Super-Lightweight Forged Wheels.

Standard tyres on the 12C are bespoke Pirelli P Zero’s, with latest generation tyre technology. The 12C’s ProActive Chassis Control system has allowed the Vehicle Dynamics team to use a softer compound than is normal on high performance sports cars to achieve extra grip. Pirelli P Zero Corsa ‘sport’ tyres are available as an option for use at higher temperatures and on circuits. These give more grip in normal conditions than the PZero tyres, but are less effective than the standard tyres in standing water or temperatures below 7°C.

The standard forged aluminium bell and cast iron brake configuration is bespoke to the 12C and has been optimised for weight, saving around 8 kg from a standard cast iron option that was considered. Naturally, it gives excellent performance in terms of braking bite and feedback. As an upgrade, Ceramic Composite Matrix (CCM) brakes may be specified.