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Australians snap up McLaren’s new supercar

Flying out the door: Circa-$500K McLaren supercar will undercut Ferrari's 458 on price and pace.

Entire 2011 allocation of ballistic new McLaren MP4-12C already a sell-out in Oz

18 Feb 2011

MORE than 30 well-heeled Australian supercar fanatics have slammed down deposits for McLaren’s all-new MP4-12C supercar - despite an indicative pricetag of half a million dollars and well ahead of first local deliveries in October - exhausting all of this year’s supplies and more than half the local allocation for 2012.

Australian demand for its first fully self-designed road car has surprised Mclaren itself, which finally put its reputation on the line last week when the international launch program – including first drives for selected media outlets – began for its first supercar since production of the Mercedes-McLaren SLR ended.

Underlining the strength of the Australian economy – at least at then top-end – and the nation’s healthy penchant for automotive exotica on a per-capita basis, McLaren’s local distributor, Sydney-based dealer group Trivett Classic, already has names on all 15 examples of the MP4-12C that will arrive here this year.

More than half of the further 30 to 40 allocated for Australia in 2012 have also been spoken for, meaning the MP4-12C is a sell-out for at least 18 months – almost as long as its most direct rival in Ferrari’s new 458 Italia, about 50 of which have been delivered to Australian customers since last August.

Prior to that, Australian Ferrari distributor European Automotive Imports had received more than 120 orders for the 458.

“It’s unusual,” said McLaren Automotive’s regional director for the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, Ian Gorsuch, during the Australian leg of the company’s global MP4-12C roadshow in Sydney this week.

“In a lot of markets we get a lot of expressions of interest but when we launch the car and announce the price that’s when we get a sort of dam-break of people coming forward, but in Australia it seems people are very keen to get in early… which is wonderful.

“It’s a great take-up rate for Australia and the Asia-Pacific as a whole, given we haven’t yet launched the car.”

The official Australian price for the 12C - which will be officially launched at a gala event for prospective buyers, media and other invited guests in Sydney during May, when the first car arrives here for static display – will be announced in coming weeks.

The MP4-12C costs £169,545 (about $A270,000) in the UK, where first deliveries commence in May, undercutting the 458 (£168,500) by just over £1000.

42 center imageMr Gorsuch (left) told GoAuto the car’s circa-$500,000 Australian pricetag (including import duty, luxury car tax and freight costs), which will see the McLaren undercut the 458 ($526,950 plus on-road costs) here by an even greater margin than it does in its British home market, represents outstanding value.

“The 458 is a little bit more expensive but we think this is the right level for us to be at,” he said. “We know we’re going to be benchmarked against the 458 and this is where we think we can pitch.

“Effectively for much the same price as the opposition, you’re getting a car with far better performance and far better useability but also more exclusivity, because we will not produce the same amount as Ferrari. We purposefully want to produce less cars – that’s our business model.”

McLaren’s Asia-Pacific chief said that at this rate it would be fair to assume Australia’s entire 2012 allocation – from an initial global production run of 1000 vehicles - will soon be a sell-out, despite the fact no local depositors will drive the car for at least six months.

“About half or a significant amount of next year’s allocation is gone,” he said. “We don’t want to count our chickens or appear to be arrogant in any way, but I think once we’ve done the launch and announced the price and people see and read about the car, it would be fair to assume the rest will go very quickly.”

Mr Gorsuch said the 12C’s performance figures – including its all-important 3.1-second 0-100km/h figure, which was finally announced this week and undercuts the 458’s by three-tenths, making it one of the quickest road cars of all time – spoke for themselves.

However, he said McLaren’s claims of class-leading performance and driveability have now been backed up by journalists including Autocar’s Steve Sutcliffe, who wrote that anyone who has a proper drive in the 12C will be instantly hooked and “will never look at the Ferrari 458 or Lamborghini Gallardo in the same light ever again”.

“I guess people were trusting what McLaren said. When we said it was going to have awesome performance, great handling and great stability they trusted us on that. Now they can read the journalists’ reports, they can see that we’ve actually done it – we’ve delivered on what we promised.

“They will trust the more subjective side because 0-100km/h performance in 3.1 seconds or stopping distance in seven car lengths is very objective – you can read that on paper and you can make direct comparisons on paper.

“Where it’s more subjective is when we say that this car is very usable - you’ve got no problems driving it through a traffic jam like you do in some other cars. We want people to use this car and take it to the office every day.

“With the MP4-12C they can have great fun out on the open road and when they hit the traffic they can hit the radio and cruise along.”

McLaren has stated that total global production volume of the MP4-12C vehicle family would grow from 1000 this year to 4000 by 2015, after at least two further versions had been released and once exports to China begin in 2013.

However, Mr Gorsuch said global supplies would remain tight initially but pointed out that McLaren’s MP4-12C business model did not involve out-selling Ferrari, which sold about 6500 cars last year while Lamborghini built fewer than about 2000 vehicles.

“We’re not in the business of trying to outsell the competition,” he said. “We know how many cars we can build and in conversation with our dealer partners we’ve worked out what the allocation should be around the world.

“Of course each dealer is asking for more cars, but we’ve arrived at what we believe is a fair distribution and that’s what we have to live with.

“We get to 4000 when we have the full model range and full derivative range.”

Beyond the most obvious convertible version, however, Mr Gorsuch would not be drawn on future derivatives of the MP4-12C, which McLaren said in December had itself already attracted about 3000 pre-orders.

“All I can say is there will be other derivatives,” he said. “(But) What there will not be is an SUV or a saloon car.

“All of them will be carbon-chassis, mid-engined high-performance two-seat sportscars. Each model will look slightly different or distinctive and each of them will do different jobs. The sorts of uses they can be put to, their physical look and their performance will all be different.

“An open-top version is what we would call a derivative. We’ve got derivatives and different models, so within a model range there will be derivatives.”

To handle the brand in Australia, Trivett Classic – one of 35 dealers in 19 nations globally - will build a dedicated new McLaren showroom near its Bentley outlet in Alexandria.

A second Australian dealership will be established in Melbourne in 2012, but MP4-12C owners outside of Australia’s two largest cities will not have local access to an official service facility.

“The key is that we will have two fully trained up and equipped service centres, but there are no plans for other cities because we don’t want to spread ourselves too thinly,” said Mr Gorsuch.

“Before they sell the first car they will have in stock almost 100 per cent of the parts in stock, because we know customers hate having to wait for parts if they bump the car or whatever,” said Mr Gorsuch, who added that McLaren’s three-year/unlimited mileage warranty will not be extended to owners of privately imported 12Cs.

McLaren announced this week its 441kW/600Nm 3.8-litre V8 two-seater - which will be built alongside McLaren's F1 racing facility in Woking, where the SLR and BMW-powered McLaren F1 three-seater road car were produced – will sprint to 100km/h in 3.3 seconds on road tyres, or in 3.1 seconds on optional ‘Corsa’ tyres.

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