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McLaren drivers debut MP4-12C at Goodwood

What a blast: McLaren's MP4-12C supercar gets a work-out from a McLaren F1 driver at Goodwood.

McLaren supercar makes debut as Button and Hamilton head Goodwood Supercar Run

8 Jul 2010

MCLAREN’S wild new 3.8-litre twin-turbo MP4-12C supercar, confirmed for Australia as part of its global rollout beginning next year, is in the final stages of pre-production testing.

McLaren formula one drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton proved its readiness with numerous Supercar Run demonstration laps at Britain’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, marking the V8 mid-engined two-seater's global debut last weekend.

Sydney has been confirmed to host one of 35 planned McLaren dealerships, as part of the British supercar-maker’s global model rollout in 19 countries from 2011.

Half of those retail outlets have now been announced and, although details of Sydney’s McLaren store remain unknown. The UK and Western Europe are expected to account for the most sales.

As such, Europe will receive the first cars when production begins, with Australia and the Asia Pacific region being last to join the party.

Australian pricing for the MP4-12C is yet to be announced, but McLaren has said that its global target price is below £175,000 ($314,500).

42 center imageFrom top: Antony Sheriff, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, MP4-12C rolling chassis.

Using UK prices as a reference, McLaren’s price pitches the 12C directly at Ferrari’s 458 Italia and Lamborghini’s Gallardo LP560-4, which retail here for $526,950 and $475,000 respectively.

For a weekend, the UK was allowed to forget about being rocked by the worst financial conditions in a generation as it was treated to a display of home-grown automotive exotica.

A 12C validation prototype with McLaren Orange paintwork was the event’s first car up the hill, with McLaren’s managing director Antony Sheriff at the wheel.

On display at McLaren’s stand beside the start of the famous hillclimb was another, Volcano Orange 12C prototype fitted with a carbon-fibre aerodynamic kit and lightweight forged alloy wheels.

A rolling chassis was also provided to provide enthusiasts with a close-up view of the 12C’s 442kW V8 driveline and unique lightweight “MonoCell” chassis structure.

Happy with the road-going McLaren’s impact at the festival, Mr Sheriff commented: “The visitors to our stand were the perfect blend of car enthusiasts and potential customers.” Beyond the MP4, however, Autocar has reported that McLaren’s replacement for its 1992 F1 hypercar will arrive in 2012 – two years earlier than expected – and that McLaren intended the F1 to become a full-time model in McLaren’s line-up, along with another car to be pitched below the MP4-12C, perhaps to rival Porsche’s 911.

The future model news was backed by Mr Sheriff’s comment at Goodwood, that “in five years’ time, I expect us to be presenting a full range of innovative and performance-focused sportscars”.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula One driver and defending world champion Button drove the 12C prototype from pole position for the festival’s supercar run on Saturday, with teammate and 2008 world champ Hamilton at the helm on Sunday.

Button and Hamilton, who have been involved in the 12C’s testing and development, were on a break ahead of this weekend’s British GP at the heavily revised Silverstone circuit.

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