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Future models - McLaren - MP4-12C

Full details: McLaren targets Australia with supercar

Just super: McLaren's MP4-12C can punch to 200km/h in less than 10 seconds.

Australia to be one of 19 global destinations for McLaren’s cracking new supercar

McLaren logo19 Mar 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

MCLAREN has confirmed Australia will be one of 19 nations to receive its bristling new MP4-12C supercar, which McLaren chief Ron Dennis has pledged will be the fastest car money can buy, supported by the highest build quality, residual values and aftersales support from any car manufacturer.

Full details of the ground-breaking new McLaren, and the global retail network that will sell it, were released in a series of extensive press releases issued overnight from the UK – one of which alone contained more than 32,000 words – after a media conference at the UK maker’s Woking headquarters yesterday.

While negotiations with local distributors continue, Australia will be home to at least one of 35 dedicated retail outlets globally for the 12C. The initial list of McLaren dealers – distilled from more than 500 applications – will be announced in the first half of this year.

MP4-12C production starts at the McLaren Technology Centre late this year ahead of first deliveries in the first half of 2011 when McLaren Automotive plans to deliver up to 1000 examples.

But the company’s long-term strategy is to sell a full “range of around 4000 high-performance sportscars” by the middle of the decade, representing between three and four per cent of the global market.

Nevertheless, managing director Anthony Sheriff claims McLaren will not become a volume manufacturer. “We do not want the volumes of our rivals – we want exclusivity,” he said.

42 center imageFirst 12C customer cars are due to land in European countries including the UK, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, which are expected to account for 30 to 40 per cent of sales.

The same proportion of sales are forecast to go to North America, which is next on the phased distribution schedule, followed by South Africa and Middle East states including Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, while the Asia Pacific (Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Australia) will be last in line and is also expected to attract 10 to 20 per cent of customers.

McLaren says cars will be available to order within three months, with 1600 “expressions of interest to purchase” already logged on the company’s website (www.mclarenautomotive.com) as of yesterday, following the 12C’s world debut at the Frankfurt motor show last September.

We covered the 12C’s outstanding technical details in depth following its Frankfurt debut last year, but latest figures claim its minimum dry weight of around 1300kg and 442kW/600Nm Ricardo-developed twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre 90-degree V8 – which spins to 8500rpm and delivers 80 per cent of peak torque between 2000 and 6500rpm – will deliver a quarter-mile (400-metre) sprint in “around 11 seconds”, 0-200km/h acceleration in less than 10 seconds and a top speed of more than 200mph (322km/h).

While that’s in the same ballpark of direct rivals such as Porsche’s new (368kW/700Nm turbo-six) 911 Turbo and the upcoming Ferrari 458 Italia and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG super-coupes, both of which pack a circa-420kW V8, McLaren says the MP4’s average CO2 emissions will be less than 300 grams per kilometre.

The 458 and SLS emit 307 and 314g/km respectively, while the 911 Turbo sets new benchmarks at 268g/km with its optional seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission. A gearbox will drive the rear wheels of the McLaren, which is built on a carbon-fibre ‘MonoCell’ monocoque chassis and will be lighter than the 1485kg 458, 1570kg 911 Turbo and 1620kg SLS.

Other vital statistics of the mid-engined 12C two-seater, which has a wheelbase of 2670mm and measures 4507mm long, 1908mm wide and 1199mm high, are a 100-0km/h stopping distance of just 30 metres or seven car lengths and front/rear weight distribution of 43/57.

Despite being smaller than its key competitors, McLaren says the 12C will offer class-leading interior space, comfort and practicality, making it “well packaged, fully equipped and a comfortable place to be on a drive from London to Monte Carlo, New York to Miami or Sydney to Perth”.

Along with Formula One technologies such as an electronic differential system, a brake steer system and an air brake that can be employed to increase downforce, standard equipment will include a seven-inch colour touch-screen and wi-fi connectivity.

As we’ve reported, McLaren has targeted a global price of less than £175,000 ($A337,000) for the 12C, which puts it line-ball with Porsche’s naturally aspirated track-focussed 911 GT3 RS, but makes it more affordable than the circa-$500,000 SLS, circa-$600,000 456 and the upcoming lexus LFA, which could cost up to $750,000.

While the on-road price in Australia should be much higher than that once import duty and exchange rates are factored in, the MP4-12C will be significantly cheaper than the model it replaces – the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, 2114 coupe and roadster versions of which were built between 2003 and late last year, falling well below sales expectations of 500 vehicles a year.

It will also be vastly less expensive than the ground-breaking McLaren F1, just 106 examples of which were made between 1992 and 1998. The first road car with a carbon chassis, the F1 was the world’s fastest production car in its day and remains the fastest naturally aspirated production car available, bettered for top speed in recent years only by the Bugatti Veyron, Koenigsegg CCR and SSR Ultimate Aero TT.

Interestingly, no 0-100km/h acceleration claim has yet been made by McLaren for the 12C, which is unlikely to be either quicker or faster than the F1.

However, McLaren has admitted two further models are under development, which Autocar reports could be a less expensive 911 rival and a higher-priced direct replacement for the F1.

“We intend to have a diverse product range but they will all have two seats,” said Ron Dennis as part of yesterday’s production, distribution and expansion plans.

“This is our heritage – we are sportscar-makers and the engine will be in the back of all our cars,” said the McLaren boss.

McLaren said it will announce more performance figures for the 12C around mid-year, after further development testing in New Zealand, Arizona and Spain, and at Germany’s Nurburgring.

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