First Drive: 2012 McLaren MP4-12C

Paul Barshon Patrick Gosling

The 458's engine sounds more exotic and revs higher (9000 rpm), and its interior is more opulent if a bit garish in spots. McLaren will offer its new baby in seventeen basic colors, but the company is prepared with an infinite number of wallet-draining custom paint and interior schemes for those so inclined. In standard form, however, it is tastefully austere and well equipped, with firm, comfortable seats trimmed in leather. Its simple, handsome, digital gauges are easy to read, and controls are usefully placed on the driver's door panel or on stalks. Unlike in modern race cars -- we're happy to report-there are no steering-wheel buttons and controls to mar the simplicity of the driver interface. Meanwhile, an airy, floating console-à la Volvo-leaves adequate room for easily accessed oddments.

The 12C is, in fact, lighter, lower, shorter, and narrower than the 458 Italia. Perfectly tractable around town and not at all painful to pass hours in, it could be a daily driver like an Audi R8 or a Porsche 911, and it's certainly up to long-distance road trips, although I doubt my license could withstand any of these scenarios. All I know is that McLaren has won. The MP4-12C does everything, which, in any language, is the only thing.

2012 McLaren MP4-12C

BASE PRICE: $231,400

ENGINE: 32-valve DOHC twin-turbo V-8
DISPLACEMENT: 3.8 liters
HORSEPOWER: 592 hp @ 7000 rpm
TORQUE: 443 lb-ft @ 6500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
DRIVE: Rear-wheel

STEERING: Electrohydraulically assisted
SUSPENSION, FRONT AND REAR: Control arms, coil springs
BRAKES: Vented discs, ABS
TIRES: Pirelli PZero Corsa
TIRE SIZE F, R: 235/35YR-19, 305/30YR-20

L x W x H: 177.5 x 75.1 x 47.2 in
WHEELBASE: 105.1 in
TRACK: F/R 62.3/65.2 in
WEIGHT: 2873 lb (dry)
FUEL MILEAGE: 15/22 mpg (est.)
0-60 MPH: 3.0 sec
1/4-MILE: 10.9 sec @ 135 mph
TOP SPEED: 205 mph

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So is this another super car not to be owned by the height advantaged?

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