McLaren 12C – A British icon in the making

McLaren MP4-12C
McLaren MP4-12C

The MP4-12C was originally launched back in 2011 and aimed squarely at taking on the Ferrari 458. While on paper the specifications suggested it was a fair comparison, the Ferrari had the luxury of years of road car development from a manufacturer that was first founded back in 1929. For McLaren Automotive this was an all-new project, albeit with a rich history of success in Formula 1 and Le Mans.

Ron Dennis and his team built a phenomenally good car, possibly too perfect. From its launch it was clear that the MP4-12C could take on it’s fierce rival on the road and track. With McLaren’s racing roots the MP4-12C was initially criticised for being too focused and anodyne in comparison to the intense driving experience of the 458.

McLaren did everything right, they just forgot the emotional connection that brings an instant smile to the face in the 458. For 2013 and the launch of the 12C Spider, the MP4 part of the name was dropped, but more importantly the 12C was treated to more power, better throttle response and more intake noise.

So is it a good car? Yes. It is phenomenally fast, 0-60mph in 2.8 seconds and a top speed in excess of 210mph, handling and grip is other-worldly but never at the expense of ride quality. The way the 12C tackles British roads is frankly mind-boggling considering you are in a race-bred carbon fibre supercar. The initial step across the deep sills into a simple interior devoid of any unnecessary buttons makes you feel like a racing driver. There’s no compromise though, visibility is exceptional, within minutes of collecting my car in central London I was fully relaxed about navigating my way through the city.

While McLaren never intended to stop production of the 12C when the 650S was launched in 2014, predictably orders slowed right down with most preferring the heavily revised 650S. These final 12Cs are the most sought after, featuring a myriad of dynamic updates mirroring the 650S. The really great thing about the McLaren is that updates filter through in an almost Apple-like way, improving the car’s software.

There are, in fact, very few 12Cs on the road. During it’s four year life just over 4000 examples were produced with well under 1000 on the road in the UK. The understated looks are aging very nicely thanks to the design talents of Frank Stephenson and his team. With the lowest prices hovering around the £110,000 mark, now is the time to buy a car that will undoubtedly increase in value in future years. What gives the 12C the perfect investment DNA? Low production numbers, it’s the first car from McLaren Automotive – barring the previous F1 of course – and it has a bloodline straight to the phenomenal P1. Should we also mention that Rowan Atkinson’s twice rebuilt F1 road car recently sold for an estimated £8m, quite a jump from it’s list price of £540,000 back in 1997.

McLaren MP4-12C
McLaren MP4-12C

In the classifieds we found this car privately. While it is very attractively priced, at this level a certain element of peace of mind is required. McLaren Qualified is the companies own pre-owned programme and offers warranties, multi-point inspections and a fully updated service record as part of it’s service. £124,950 buys you this Volcano Orange 2012 model that will give you far less sleepless nights.

McLaren MP4-12C
McLaren MP4-12C

Do your research, ask plenty of questions about which upgrades the car has received and be weary of cars with very low mileage. The 12C is a car that loves to be driven and will respond to use much more than being stored for long periods. This is a car you can comfortably drive to the shops in whilst being one of the most focused supercars currently available.

About the Author:

Tim Hutton has been involved in the automotive industry for 18 years, creating ideas and content for premium brands. When not writing about cars, you will find him driving them all around the world. Having learned to drive at seven in a racing car, petrol is very much in his veins.