Today's a big day for McLaren. After ambitiously launching its own separate automotive division to follow in the footsteps of arch-rival Ferrari, the British race engineering firm has finally released its long-anticipated new supercar. Called the MP4-12C, it's been developed entirely in-house, and features the latest advances in automotive technology derived from the Formula 1 circuit.
Ooh, where to start? The MP4-12C is built around an extremely light and rigid carbon fiber tub. But rather than the heavier multi-piece tubs used by its competitors and predecessors, the MP4's is made from a single piece, weighing a spritely 176 pounds). The body panels are all carbon fiber and composites, making the new McLaren more expensive to build than its competitors and resulting in an expected £160,000 ($265k) price tag – higher than either the new Ferrari 458 Italia or the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, but lighter in weight, too.
Behind the tub sits a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 engine producing around 600 horsepower and 433 lb-ft of torque, offering what McLaren claims is the highest horsepower to CO2 ratio of any internal combustion engine on the market – gasoline, diesel or even hybrid. Contrary to earlier speculation that suggested Mercedes could continue furnishing its erstwhile partner with at least the engine blocks while producing its own SLS supercar and furnishing Pagani as well, McLaren says the unit was developed entirely in house. The bespoke mill features a flat-plane crank, dry sump and can rev up to 8,500 rpm, though 80% of the torque is said to be available from as low as 2,000 rpm. That ought to be good for a 0-60 time in the low threes and a 200+ mph top end.
While you might have expected carbon ceramic brakes to keep all that power and speed in check, McLaren says its conventional discs actually weigh less. They're aided by a Brake Steer system that brakes the inside rear wheel to combat understeer. But the real trick system is in the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, where Pre-Cog lets the driver load up the next gear by half-squeezing the paddle and then engaging with gunshot speed.
With the new MP4-12C, McLaren's betting the economy will bounce back soon. It's planning on building 1000 units in 2011, a quarter of which will go each to the domestic UK market and over here to the United States. The C designation also suggests that they're planning a roadster version to join the coupe. But for now, we'll just enjoy this first batch of images in the gallery below and peruse the lengthy press release after the jump.