2013 McLaren MP4-12C

Base RWD 2-Dr Coupe V8 man trans

Base RWD 2-Dr Coupe V8 man trans

2013 mclaren mp4-12c Reviews and News

2013 McLaren 12C Spider Front View
Somewhere in the Car Development chapter of the Automobile Product Planning Bible, it's written that small cars shall grow ever larger, that hulking SUVs shall grow ever manlier and that exotic cars shall grow ever more glamorous.
Exhibit A in the supercar class is the new McLaren 12C Spider. Two years after the first closed-top MP4-12C rolled off the production line, McLaren decided that it was time for a major up-grade. Of course, it would have been difficult to improve substantially on the performance of the coupe, which already featured 616 horsepower -- and a top speed north of 200 mph -- in a remarkably tidy mid-engine package weighing a mere 3,161 pounds. So the company chose to go the hedonist route, offering open-air devotees a convertible to meet their exhibitionist needs.
The Spider features a two-piece retractable hardtop that stows automatically under a tonneau cover at the push of a button. Because the 12C is built around a carbon-fiber tub, no additional structural support was necessary, so the roadster is heavier than the coupe by only 88 pounds -- the weight of the retractable hardtop motor and a rerouted exhaust system.
Despite a premium of $26,450 -- bringing MSRP to $268,250 -- McLaren expects the Spider to account for 80 percent of its sales. So the company recently brought a bevy of Spiders to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana for prospective customers to sample. But first, local journalists were to be granted some seat-time in the cars.
Auto Club Speedway is a D-shaped two-mile oval that's on the Sprint Cup and IndyCar schedules. The SCCA and other clubs race on a configuration that incorporates about half of the oval and an interior road course. To safeguard the Spiders, McLaren chose to forgo the oval -- where speeds of 170 mph would have been possible entering Turn 1 -- and restrict cars to the interior road course. This is like booking Megadeth to play a gig and then forbidding the band to crank the amps past 5. Then again, it significantly reduces the possibility of disaster.
Before driving a car, I ogle a bare chassis that McLaren has set up in the garage to showcase the elegant simplicity of the 12C. Rather than a unibody, the car is built around a one-piece carbon-fiber tub that weighs 165 pounds. A stout aluminum subframe bolts to the rear bulkhead and cradles the bespoke engine and proprietary transmission. Every component, down to the delicately sculpted wishbones, seems to be designed and made to the exacting standard of a leading Formula 1 manufacturer.
In many respects, ironically, the McLaren looks more arresting as a naked chassis than it does clothed in its understated, largely aluminum bodywork. If the Lamborghini Aventador is the winner of a wet T-shirt contest and the Ferrari 458 Italia is a supermodel in stiletto heels, the 12C is a very hot librarian. I'm not sure that's entirely by design. But it's in keeping with the company's all-things-to-all-(rich)-people philosophy. "We call it the 'and' car," says technical special-ist Simon Andrew, meaning that the 12C is equally adept on road and track.
The key to the car's adaptability is a suspension -- double wishbones and coilovers -- that uses hydraulically interconnected shock absorbers, each linked to a separate accumulator charged with nitrogen. Not only does this allow drivers to adjust suspension settings from Normal to Sport to Track, but it also takes the place of traditional antiroll bars, which enhance racetrack performance at the expense of a punishingly stiff ride. And, in fact, a brief street drive confirms that the Spider feels more composed -- and less oppressive -- on public roads than the 458.
But I'm more interested in its performance on the track. So after opening the dramatic clamshell door, I slide carefully into a narrow compartment with predictably comfortable seats and unexpectedly good visibility. The twin turbos attached to the 3.8-liter V-8 rob the engine of some of its aural appeal, and even with the so-called Intake Sound Generator (a resonator that amplifies engine noise) on the Track setting, the McLaren emits none of the intoxicating ferocity of a 458.
Then again, the turbos and the flat-plane crankshaft help the engine generate 616 rampaging horses and a wham-bam 443 lb-ft of torque. I'm eager to see how this translates into acceleration, so my first task is to sample the Spider's launch control system. At a full stop, I activate the Track mode and punch the Launch button. This prompts an Awaiting Throttle message on the instrument panel. Left foot on the brake, right foot buries the throttle.
The engine winds out to about 3200 rpm while a Boost Building message lights the screen. I feel like Jenson Button awaiting the start at the Monaco Grand Prix in a McLaren MP4-28. After a few seconds, the "Boost Building" light goes out and the car hurtles forward. McLaren quotes a 0-60 time of 3.2 seconds and several testers have managed a 2.8. Although I did not time my launch, my initial impression is an extreme Whoa! -- like watching the jump to hyperspace in "Star Wars" for the first time.
The racetrack experience isn't quite as impressive. Not because the car is disappointing; on the contrary, it's amazingly poised under duress, with minimal body roll and weight distribution that promotes neutral handling characteristics. But the circuit is frustratingly Mickey Mouse, consisting mostly of tight right-angle corners and no straights long enough to let the Spider reach the high-speed regime where its diffuser and air brake would be most effective.
The dual-clutch seven-speed transmission, designed by McLaren but built by Graziano, produces the seamless shifts we've come to expect from DSG gearboxes. Still, I make it only to 4th gear on the front straight. Then I lean on the gargantuan brakes, which are cast-iron but effective enough to throw me against my seat belts. Even when I get into the ABS, the car feels supremely planted, thanks partly to what are known as Z bars, or heave springs, that prevent the rear end from rising -- and losing grip -- under heavy braking.
I can kick out the tail at will in 2nd-gear corners. This is a testament to not only the engine's torque but also a stability control system that allows a satisfying level of hooliganism in Track mode. Normal and Sport modes are more restrictive, naturally, but I don't find out until after my stint that you can turn off the stability control altogether by hitting what Andrew calls "the Nintendo button."
After another 4th-gear blast down the back straight, I whistle through a high-speed chicane and brake for the decreasing-radius right-hander that's reviled by virtually everybody who races at Fontana. But here, I'm pleasantly surprised by the Spider's willingness to carve down to the apex I usually miss. The reason? The car's stability control system applies the brake of the inside rear wheel, which dials out understeer and improves turn-in -- a piece of clever technology that's been outlawed, paradoxically, in F1.
Racetracks usually expose the flaws in street cars, no matter how impressive they are on the road. But driving the Spider at Fontana made me appreciate just how capable the McLaren is -- not an F1 car for civilians, but a pretty damn good facsimile thereof.
McLaren MP4 12C Front View
Editor's Note: This is the third of eight automotive fantasies from our November 2013 print issue. We'll be publishing the fantasies over the next few weeks on automobilemag.com. Look for the issue on newsstands now or download our iPad issue to read them all.
Though it has fallen out of fashion, the epic cross-country drive remains one of the great set pieces of American letters.
Kerouac, Steinbeck -- I well remember reading their road novels as a schoolboy -- and, in a more extracurricular vein, Brock Yates of "Cannonball Run" fame. Crossing our country's vast and varied topography by automobile, each of these storytellers taught us something we didn't know about a land whose frontiers had long since disappeared but which still seemed mighty big.
Here at Automobile Magazine, the flame never went out. Our literary aspirations are more humble than the aforementioned masters, but we're certain that nothing compares to a good 3000-mile drive for getting to know a car.
So one day recently, I got in my car and drove home. Except that it wasn't my car. It was a $272,230 MP4-12C that belonged to McLaren Automotive -- and I was in L.A., more than 3000 miles from home.
This periodical's motto, pledged by our founder, David E. Davis, Jr., is "No boring cars." No boring destinations and no boring people is implied. With a plan of visiting a few interesting characters on the way back to my very fascinating family at home, photographer Martyn Goddard and I had our bases covered as we embarked on a rapid continental crossing in a machine most un-boring. Home cooking, regional dialects, and indigenous music are swell, but some truths can only be truly elucidated by traveling very fast.
Now that there is a million-dollar-plus McLaren P1, the 12C may only be the champion Formula 1 constructor's cooking-grade road car. Before you start feeling sorry for us, remember it's still one of the most exciting horizon-pulverizing devices known to man. It's a machine so new, so exotic, and so rare that, so far as we could figure, no one outside of a few lab-coated McLaren employees had ever attempted such a long journey in one.
Approaching the sleek and dramatically low 12C, I flashed back to something I'd written in an otherwise glowing report on this mid-engine holy roller after driving it at its 2011 introduction in Portugal. I loved the performance of the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 (592 hp, since bumped up to 616). Loved the carbon-fiber tub at its core. Went wild for its ride and handling, which come courtesy of a brilliantly effective, gas-controlled active suspension, advanced stability controls, and the kind of mega-downforce only F1 constructors can imagine. It was the 12C's styling that, at the time, struck me as unremarkable, supercar generic.
However, before Goddard and I left California, in a parking lot in Monterey Park, we received vivid, instant proof that in real life, out among the masses and far away from jaded car-writer cloisters, the MP4-12C is a stone-cold style monster.
For the next seven days, we would be swarmed with admirers, bombarded with their questions and thrusting camera phones. A big part of the journey was going to involve community relations and posing for pictures. For 3336.6 miles and across fifteen states, our transportation, born black on black at McLaren's futuristic factory in Woking, England, but treated to a disposable wrap in Hot Wheels blue for a just-completed Bay Area promotion, was an infinitely popular smartphone photo subject. Clearly, I'd miscalculated the power of generic supercar styling.
My initial time with the 12C had been mostly on the track, but even there I was impressed with its potential for practical use. Here was that rare mid-engine conveyance that, like an Acura NSX or an Audi R8, might make some sort of sense for long-distance transportation. The first day's drive, a little over 400 miles to Phoenix, didn't disabuse me of the notion. Despite its fundamentally weight-saving outlook, accommodations proved reasonable for two persons with soft luggage and a fair sampling of modern photographic equipment. The 12C is no Mercedes-Benz S-class, but being quiet, comfortable, and airy, it's no torture chamber, either.
As the traffic heading east on I-10 toward Arizona thinned out, I was reminded of the 12C's substantial performance envelope. This car is so fast it's sick. However famously terrific its most direct competitor, the Ferrari 458 Italia, may sound, the sweet noises of the McLaren's twin turbochargers spooling up and down, plus an exquisite exhaust burble as gearchanges are popped off during mad dashes to its race-bred, 90-degree, dry-sump V-8's 8500-rpm redline, will not grow old for any enthusiast, ever.
It was not yet 9 a.m., but the sun burned brightly as we traversed the surface streets of the greater Phoenix cement-o-plex. For all its natural beauty, no one does sprawl better than the Copper State -- mile after mile of it, its appeal presumably explained by car-centric suburban convenience combined with the sunshiny warmth and wonder of the surrounding environs, which is quite unlike anything we have back east. The same goes for Local Motors, where we stop to meet with John Burton "Jay" Rogers, Jr., the charismatic co-founder of what claims to be the world's first crowd-sourced automobile company.
A Harvard MBA, Iraq War veteran, and grandson of a guy who once owned Indian Motorcycle, Rogers explained that by keeping production low, building locally, and selling cars uniquely relevant to a local population, LM can avoid the pitfalls of would-be volume makers like Fisker. Local Motors manufactures the Rally Fighter, a $99,900 V-8-powered off-road coupe with a sturdy spaceframe and extravagant suspension travel. Customers do much of the assembly work, which exempts the Rally Fighter from DOT crash and airbag regulations because it's a kit car. Buyers show up on their own dime and are given tools, detailed instructions, a jig-welded chassis, and enough subassemblies to build a car. Friendly advice is available.
The perils of small-volume vehicle manufacture are too numerous to list, but McLaren appears to have sidestepped many of them. Performance aside, the 12C's number-one party trick -- the way its dihedral doors scissor forward from the A-pillars -- is hard to pull off, but they work exceptionally well, opening and closing easily and sealing properly, and they work like umbrellas in a downpour.
That wasn't much of a concern as we drove through the desert, where the air-conditioning system, a traditional minefield for smaller carmakers, kept us cool and didn't stop working. McLaren makes good use of the 12C's wide sills by placing individual ventilation controls on the doors' interior panels, limiting clutter on the slender, Volvo-esque, "floating" center stack, where the straightforward, fairly old-school controls of the Meridian sound system reside, along with a passable navigation system. Goddard noted with irritation, though, that the digital displays on the door-mounted controls can be hard to read in certain light and that the white stitching adorning the dash top reflects in the windshield at night. He was also less impressed than I with some of the interior materials.
If the Dos Equis guy is the most interesting man in the world, our host in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Denise McCluggage, is the most interesting woman. Born in 1927, McCluggage was raised in Topeka, the daughter of a Kansas lawyer and a homemaker. "I was a daddy's girl," she recalled over breakfast at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe. "I mowed the lawn. I washed the car. Because that's what Daddy did."
When she went away to Oakland, California, for college, she spied an MG TC in Kjell Qvale's sports car showroom on Van Ness Avenue, across the bay in San Francisco. "I was overcome. I had to have it. I'd never had to have something so much as that. And overnight . . . it was so intense, my desire . . . the British pound was devalued and they dropped the price to $1800. So I called my daddy, a long-distance call to Kansas, only death or whatever. He lent me the money to buy it. I paid him back."
She moved to New York in the early 1950s to work for the city's Herald Tribune as a reporter for its women's pages. She parked her next MG TC on the street outside of her Greenwich Village pad. "I was covering things like the introduction of new washable suede gloves, new refrigerators and ranges," and although she had the freedom to write a column a week on a subject of her choosing, McCluggage soon worked her way over to the sports pages, a rarity for a woman then. "I said I wanted to cover this new sport that they were doing -- sports car racing."
"I'd met Briggs Cunningham at a children's yacht race I was covering at his yacht club." Thanks to Cunningham, an instant admirer, her entrée to the sports car world was assured. "I started a column, the first anyone was writing [on sports car racing].
"Briggs was just the greatest guy ever. Suddenly, I was driving his race cars. My first was a Jaguar, a gift . . . I drove his OSCAs, his Porsches. [Alfred] Momo liked me, too, which was handy. I didn't race the D-type, but I drove it. Of course, it was a relatively simple thing to do in those days. You drove your cars to the races, you slapped numbers on them, you raced them, and sometimes you left the numbers on to impress people driving home."
McCluggage quickly improved an already skilled game, trying everything from Ferraris for importer Luigi Chinetti to rallying in Europe for the British Motor Corporation. A class victory at Sebring in 1961, while driving a Ferrari 250GT, was one career highlight that saw her pairing up with a rank amateur for a co-driver, her then-boyfriend, the tenor sax player and jazzman Allen Eager. It spoke to her ability -- and likely his -- while telling us plenty about a more relaxed time and a more easy-going sport.
After breakfast, McCluggage joined me for a ride in the McLaren. She was duly impressed but not as much as I was with her tale. While writing, racing, and arranging to ski most everywhere, McCluggage also managed to find time in 1958 to help start Competition Press (precursor to Autoweek, where she still writes a column). She left the newspaper game and circumnavigated the globe in the employ of the Fuller Brush Company, for whom she'd write a catalog. She dated a dashing cast of writers, musicians, millionaires, Formula 1 drivers, and, yes, even Steve McQueen. Let that sink in.
Deeply knowledgeable about cars and the automobile industry, McCluggage is well-read; politically outspoken in a retiring, jolly pinko sort of way; and a fine writer to boot. Rarely stooping to convention, she has led the sort of charmed and full life that many would wish for themselves. Not that it didn't surprise me, but it made a strange kind of sense when she added as an aside that "fulfilling men's fantasies insofar as I was able" was very important to her. Maybe so, but in my book, as a feminist, she's tough to top. She didn't confront a male-dominated society; she just went around it.
The gearhead sophisticates of Santa Fe turn out in numbers for a weekly lunch, the Tuesday Car Table, which McCluggage graces whenever she's in town. One of my tablemates, Dean Rogers, owns an MP4-12C that was in Houston having its cracked windshield replaced. He'd driven it 3000 miles so far and loved it. John Paul Gonzales, young son of a family whose Santa Fe roots go back hundreds of years, loved it, too, but believes early customers are involved in the model's "beta-testing phase," whether they want to be or not.
Goddard and I started agreeing with Gonzales when our car's audio system went on the fritz in Texas. Suddenly, the radio (or iPod) would go silent and the touchscreen would freeze. Rebooting would restore function, but then it would crash again, usually sooner than later.
Although Goddard's legs are long and mine are short, we agreed that there was something wanting in the seat bottoms where long-distance comfort was concerned. On the other hand, we were seeing fuel economy in the neighborhood of 22 mpg, even with plenty of full-bore acceleration.
In Amarillo, Tyler's Barbeque had sold out for the night, but we begged them to let us stay and, sure enough, they found a sublime end of beef brisket to share. The McLaren we'd parked outside didn't hurt our credibility. Texas-born Tyler Frazer, the award-winning pit master, revealed himself to be a young man of no mean sophistication, once again puncturing the tired notions I am embarrassed to say many Northeasterners have about the rest of the country, especially the South, a place some speak foolishly about, typically because they've spent no time there.
Not that we could stay in Amarillo, or Dallas, or anywhere too long. Select sport mode on one of the 12C's two console dials (one chooses suspension and stability control settings, the other engine/shift algorithms) and the acoustics get even more ferocious. A centrally pivoted paddle behind the steering wheel lets you shuffle through the seven speeds of the dual-clutch automatic (located immediately behind the engine located immediately behind your head), so you can play each cog for all of its musical worth. With due credit to the MP4-12C's relatively low weight -- 3200 pounds -- the Ricardo-built engine you're thrashing feels like the original Marshall stack of horsepower.
Zero to 60 mph comes up in three seconds. You're barely into second gear. Hitting 100 mph takes four more seconds, and you're at the top of third -- with four gears and three digits' worth of additional top speed left to go, all the way to 207 mph. The quarter mile has come and gone in less than eleven seconds. Holy Schmidt's (beer)! The reality of the road and the reasonable desire to remain outside of the criminal-justice system frustratingly limits manic blasts through any of gears two through overdriven seven.
For professional reasons, we found ourselves duty bound during our first few days with the McLaren to verify, vigorously and over and over again, that it is indeed blindingly fast and always ready to accelerate some more, from as low as 1500 rpm. It is also steely-eyed and stable at triple-digit speeds. We saw an indicated 148 mph on a lonely two-lane that will not be named, and the 12C was just getting started. By the time we got to Montgomery, Alabama, we'd slowed down considerably. I'm against all regional stereotypes, but you know what they say about New York Jews in exotic cars driving double and triple the speed limit. I'm not religious, but I'm pretty sure it's in the Bible somewhere.
In downtown Montgomery, we left the car at a parking meter and were ready to immerse ourselves in some national history that predated McLaren's arrival on our shores. We'd been invited to the state capitol by Josh Segall, a thirty-four-year-old lawyer and one-time Congressional candidate born to an old Montgomery family, a Jewish one with roots in the area that go back 100 years. I'd fortuitously become acquainted with Segall, a history buff and kindred spirit, during a business call. He offered a visit to Alabama government buildings in the company of Dr. Edwin Bridges, director emeritus of the Alabama Department of Archives and History.
Bridges showed us the rooms in the capitol where the Confederacy was born. He showed us the First White House of the Confederacy across the street. Deep in the bowels of the state archives next door, he and archivist Ryan Blocker allowed us to inspect the remarkable, restored flags of local militias, Bull Connor photographs, and the clothes Alabaman presidential candidate George Wallace was wearing when he was shot in 1972. A fascinating figure -- and a physically smaller man than you'd expect -- Wallace would after his shooting renounce his past of racial hatred and begin to mend fences with the African-American community. As if it were a Hollywood movie set, from the capitol's front steps we could see the church, just a couple hundred yards away, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had preached. Because he was not allowed to speak on the capitol stairs, King orated from a podium placed on a trailer pulled in front of the legislature's great home. So much history in such a small space.
You might say the same thing about our MP4-12C, but you'd say it only if you were talking to serious gearheads. Fortunately, Segall had arranged for us to meet local McLaren and Automobile Magazine fans at Mitchell Classics. Bill Mitchell is a friendly old-car dealer and retired psychological counselor who may, like us, have occasion to ponder the Freudian underpinnings of why he owns so many cars that he needs a warehouse. Two of the attendees told us that David E. Davis, Jr., had stayed at their homes. It's not too soon to hang those David E. Slept Here plaques, folks.
I tried to give them an idea of the sensation of driving this car. Blasting off is electrifying, but so is stopping quickly when you're running hard, such as when the back road we were hammering down turned to crumbled-up poo during a high-speed run. Or each time the Escort radar detector tipped us off to an imminent appearance by the state police. Nail the binders and a huge body-colored air brake rises suddenly from the rear of the car, like the tail of a scared cat.
Which is pretty cool. But once the inevitable paranoia of driving a supercar on public roads sets in, it's easy to suddenly mistake an air brake, or anything else that pops up suddenly in your mirror, for a cop who's stapled himself to your heinie. When you get over the shock and realize it's just the air brake you've spotted, there's the fear that behind it still lurks a cop, one who's been tipped off by its deployment. It's a rich person's problem. Call it Carbon Fiber Handcuff Syndrome.
You're handcuffed or liberated by a supercar, depending on which kind of weirdo you are. But everybody's always staring at you. A sizable percentage of restaurant staff left their stations at an Atlanta rib shack to gawp at the McLaren out front -- in the rain. Then there were the surprisingly arch artiste types we saw in downtown Richmond, Virginia, who paused with nonironic fascination for an unhipsterly number of seconds outside of their loft spaces and galleries simply to take in this most impressive machine. The night we reached New York we stopped for a time-lapse photo along the Jersey-side shores of the Hudson River. Our biggest problem, it soon became clear, was going to be shooing away the young people who surrounded our car.
As I'd assured the assembled that night in Montgomery, our experience proved that the great American road trip is alive and well. Americans loved the McLaren through and through, exhibiting all the unexpected insight, blinding ignorance, and 1000 percent enthusiasm that any supercar driver gets to know in a hurry. Two days earlier, in Mississippi, a family abandoned their dinner in a nearby restaurant to come chat us up at the filling station across the street while their meals grew cold.
Like the cross-country car journey, a supercar is one of those things that never goes out of fashion. And we had to admit that for an awesome machine, the McLaren was pretty decent.
McLaren MP4 12C Spider Front Right View
The McLaren 12C has a secret: The coupe's roof is little more than an aluminum-and-glass toupee that's been Krazy-glued in place with scant concern for structural rigidity. Put another way, the new 12C Spider is essentially as stiff as the fixed-roof car -- without any additional bracing.
Coupe-like rigidity from a roofless chassis is achieved via the large, hollow rails that run down each side of the MonoCell carbon-fiber tub. And for a company that will sell fewer than 2000 cars this year, using the exact same (complex and expensive) chassis for the coupe and the convertible amounts to a manufacturing coup.

A convertible like no other

With no reason to worry about chassis flex, McLaren has also kept the suspension as stiff as the 12C coupe's. That makes this Spider unique among six-figure open supercars, including the 12C's chief rival, the Ferrari 458 Spider. Softening the suspension is standard practice in a coupe-to-convertible metamorphosis, but McLaren needn't make such compromises thanks to its ProActive Chassis Control, which forgoes steel anti-roll bars in favor of interconnected dampers and sophisticated computer controls. The system squelches body roll in turns yet also allows the wheels to move independently over bumps on straights, so not only is the Spider as firm as the coupe, it's also as forgiving. In convertible form, the chassis remains the 12C's greatest attribute, with sharp responses, excellent balance, and supernatural ride quality whether the handling control is dialed to normal, sport, or track. On the 3.4-mile circuit at Spain's Ascari race club, McLaren's Formula 1-derived Brake Steer dissected chicanes, banked turns, hairpins, and changing-elevation corners with such assured aplomb that the 12C started to rewrite our biases. Maybe trading a 40-pound differential for brake-based torque-vectoring isn't such a crazy idea after all.
Spending quality time at speed with a 12C will also alter your understanding of its maker. McLaren's expertise isn't just technology; it's integrating technology with such profound skill that the 1's and 0's translate into nuance and finesse. Coupe or Spider, on road or track, it's a challenge to find serious fault with the 12C.

Quirks and quick fixes

That's not to say there isn't room for improvement. The 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 lacks the intoxicating immediacy of Ferrari's normally aspirated engine and the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox has its moments of suspect logic. In automatic mode, the transmission occasionally places too much faith in the turbochargers and holds its gear at 3000 rpm despite the full-throttle request of the driver. You can also catch it shifting more slowly than an economy car in manual mode if you ask for a big downshift when you're light on the accelerator. And despite McLaren's organizational neuroticism -- er, attention to detail -- there's evidence that the company is still learning when it comes to manufacturing. While we paused at a scenic overlook, a fickle Brit tourist picked the 12C apart for its uneven panel gaps and inelegant weather stripping.
His quibbles hardly registered, though, as we raced up Southern Spain's dreamlike A-369 and marveled that an automaker this green has gotten so much right. Heck, it's possible that by this time next year every McLaren will be assembled with the body quality of a Honda; the folks in Woking have embraced the notion of running changes with uncommon enthusiasm. An all-new engine calibration adds 24 hp to last year's 592-hp output, the loudness of the intake sound tube is now adjustable independent of the powertrain modes, and the throttle reacts to inputs more quickly. Eager to appease the very customers that prompted these changes, McLaren will flash the software updates onto all 2012 cars free of charge. Unfortunately for those owners, the most significant 2013 update involves hardware. A physical button on the exterior now opens the doors with perfect reliability and puts an end to the silly swipe gesture.

A new way of looking at convertibles

Beyond the thrill of exercising 616 hp with the top down, there are a couple of perks to choosing the convertible over the coupe. The nook under the tonneau cover moonlights as a second cargo hold when the top is up, and every $268,250 Spider comes with two small, L-shaped bags tailored to the contours of that space. On a more emotional level, lowering the top opens up a whole new aural experience. The flat-plane V-8's grunt isn't quite as deep as in the coupe, but the turbocharger waste gates take over with a sharp, snare-like rattle every time you back off the gas pedal. And while the roof can be opened or closed at speeds up to 19 mph, the rear window can be lowered at any velocity, creating an uninterrupted path for the engine's soundtrack to reach your cochlea.
Perhaps the only black mark on the Spider's record is a weight increase that raises the curb weight to 3249 pounds. Yet holding the gain to just 88 pounds is a heroic achievement for any convertible conversion. Whereas you can typically assume that the droptop model is a softer car for a softer buyer, you can't think of the McLaren that way. We're not looking to start a trend here, but amid four-door coupes and crossover coupes, we can't help but think of the McLaren 12C Spider as a new kind of automotive oxymoron: the folding-top coupe.
2013 McLaren 12C Spider
Engine: 3.8L twin-turbo V-8, 616 hp, 443 lb-ft
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Drive: Rear-wheel
EPA Mileage: 15/22 mpg
2013 McLaren MP4-12C
2013 McLaren MP4-12C

New For 2013

A year after relaunching its road-car business with the MP4-12C Coupe, McLaren has announced its second model, the MP4-12C Spider. The Spider’s power-retractable hard top can be raised or lowered in 17 seconds at speeds up to 19 mph. Also new this year: a power boost that increases the output of the turbocharged V-8 from 592 hp to 616 hp.


The British gentleman to Ferrari’s boisterous 458 Italia, the MP4-12C is a supercar with a measure of restraint. Its styling is far more understated than the Ferrari’s, but the McLaren houses technological innovations taken straight from Formula 1. Chief among them is its carbon-fiber construction. Its advanced suspension trades antiroll bars for a hydraulic system of interconnected dampers that almost completely eliminate unwanted body motions and at the same time allow this supercar to ride almost like a luxury car. Under heavy braking, an air brake deploys in the rear to help slow the vehicle. Rather than rely on displacement and revs, the 12C uses two turbochargers to boost power and keep fuel consumption in check. The 3.8-liter V-8 engine uses a flat-plane crank, like Ferrari’s V-8s, so the sound coming from the high-mounted rear exhausts is pure supercar, and a guttural intake honk dominates in the cabin. By the time the tach needle hits its 8500-rpm redline, the turbos are well out of lung capacity, but the MP4-12C sprints to 62 mph in as little as 3.1 seconds, and top speed is 207 mph. The interior is superbly finished and fabulously refined. This is a supercar that you could easily spend days in—whether beating on Ferraris at the track or running to the supermarket for that special bottle of olive oil.


The MP4-12C uses an ultra-strong carbon-fiber monocoque with aluminum crash structures bolted front and rear. It has front air bags, ABS, and traction and stability control, as well as a rear air brake actuated by transmission-fluid pressure.

You'll like:

  • Ferrari-beating performance
  • Exclusivity
  • Ultramodern construction

You won't like:

  • Unproven reliability
  • Restrained styling

Key Competitors For The 2013 McLaren MP4-12C

  • Aston Martin V8 Vantage
  • Ferrari 458 Italia
  • Lamborghini Gallardo
  • Porsche 911 GT2 RS
2013 McLaren 12C Spider Profile Drivers Side View In Motion Open
As was widely suspected, the introduction of the new McLaren 650S coupe and Spider means the end of the 12C supercar. McLaren will end production of the 12C (pictured), but plans to sate owners by giving them several free upgrades.
Mclaren Mp4 12c Convertible Driving Front
Among the 50 states, there are numerous picturesque destinations. Northern California is particularly known for its natural beauty, and for those in the know, the area has some great roads for testing out high-performance machinery. That's exactly what Epic Drives host Arthur St. Antoine did with the McLaren MP4 12C Spider in Marin County, getting a behind-the scenes look at some of the area's off-the-beaten-path attractions.
2013 McLaren 12C Front Passengers Three Quarters View Low
The Ferrari 458 Italia is one of the McLaren 12C supercar’s most direct rivals, and the introduction of the hardcore 458 Speciale has put McLaren on notice. A report from Autocar suggests that McLaren is working on an “enhanced” version of the 12C to better compete with Ferrari's sharpened 458 Speciale.
Mso 12c Concept Rear Three Quarters
In order to highlight the possibilities of the McLaren Special Operations in-house tuning arm, McLaren has revealed the MSO 12C concept that feature numerous upgrades over the already special McLaren 12C supercar. Many of these modifications are finished in carbon fiber, making for some weight savings over the already light, 3084-pound 12C.

Change Vehicle

Research Now

Used 2013 Mclaren MP4-12C Values / Pricing

Suggested Retail Price

Free Price Quote

Compare dealer clearance prices and save.
Select this Vehicle

Compare The 2013 Mclaren MP4-12C

Click Circles to Compare

Your Selected Vehicle's Ranking

2013 McLaren MP4-12C
2013 McLaren MP4-12C
Base RWD 2-Dr Coupe V8
Top Ranking Vehicles - Price

2013 Mclaren MP4-12C Specifications

Quick Glance:
3.8L V8Engine
Fuel economy City:
15 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
22 MPG
616 hp @ 7500rpm
442 ft lb of torque @ 3000rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front (optional)
  • Stabilizer Rear (optional)
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player (optional)
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation (optional)
Unlimited miles / 36 months
Unlimited miles / 36 months
Unlimited miles / 36 months
IIHS Front Small Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
NHTSA Rating Front Side
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
NHTSA Rating Overall
NHTSA Rating Rollover
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength

Find Used Mclaren MP4-12Cs For Sale

Search through millions of listings in the Automobile Magazine classifieds