Check out 1,000 miles in the McLaren MP4-12C: Day One and 1,000 miles in the McLaren MP4-12C: Day Two.

DAY THREE – THE SNOW BEFORE THE SWEET REWARD

So, yeah, on Day Two there were plenty of opportunities to try all chassis setups and I explored them all. So doing, I spotted those couple of things that could use work in the future. But I honestly have to say I was falling ever more under the spell of this car.

Almost immediately out of the night's stay in Annecy, the roads started climbing. This time of year is generally considered by most to be the warm season, but it quickly became cold and, toward the crest of Aravis Pass at near 5,000 feet, it was snowing.

Naturally, this was a text book opportunity for testing the Winter settings of both the Handling and Powertrain knobs on the McLaren console, and they succeeded in sucking the potential drama right out of the slippery proceedings. The eased-up feel of the ProActive chassis control together with the meted out progression of the throttle map soon urged me to carry much more speed through this whole white affair than I had thought possible as I was foolishly driving up into it.
Autoblog Short Cuts: McLaren MP4-12C London-to-Monaco Day 3

And the turbochargers loved that cool air. It was just the right coolness, too, not at all frigidly cold. It was here that the Graziano seven-speed, being used in full-auto mode, revealed its weakest chink in the armor. The lightweight dry-clutch wonder box just does not cotton to low revs and ginger driving. It's perfectly usable on these rare occasions, yes, but not happy.

The best way to get to many of the legendary coastal mountain roads heading south into the fancy-pants towns of the French Mediterranean coast is to duck due east into northwestern Italy. We did so via the 7.25-mile long tunnel through 15,782-foot-tall Mont Blanc. It was about 60 degrees out at the start of the tunnel in France. By the time I and the 12C arrived at the heart of the mountain, the air temperature indicated on the console display had reached 83 degrees. So I rolled down the windows until the exit in Italy.


Visualizzazione ingrandita della mappa

The object in Italy was to smoke along the autostrada, skirt past Turin, and get back over to the southernmost French peaks in the Alpes-Martimes region. The rest of the drive on this final day was a euphoric blur.

From Borgo San Dalmazzo just south of Cuneo until emerging from the mountains on D2566 on the A8 autoroute, life was damned good. So good and Gendarme-free that I turned around at what would have been the start of a post-party cool-down drive into Monaco and went back up the mountain just so I could drive back down again. It only made sense. The McLaren people were afraid I'd disappeared forever with their car. I got a few calls on the cell phone telling me things like, "You might think about getting down to Monaco before dark, Matt." Sorry, can't hear you; signal's breaking up.



This sort of near abusive sports car driving road with so many unimaginable curve combinations is exactly why Europeans felt they had to invent the sports car. And there is a British super sports manner of engineering cars exactly for this. The Lotus Evora has it and the McLaren 12C has it. The recent Toyobarus and certain Mini trims have it in good portion. But that a car quite like the MP4-12C has this built in is what makes it thoroughly unique.

A 458 Italia will do these roads in its way and I feel the McLaren is slightly better suited still. A Porsche GT3 RS would give us a run for the money for certain, but it'd be a close one. After this particularly sweaty and exhilaratingly long thrashing, I have to say I'd need to use the McLaren here if a sports car of this exotic type was on my must-own list. There were so many points on this long, long stretch – and I'd driven it all before in the other cars I've mentioned – where it dawned on me so clearly what McLaren has made in the 12C.



No, it might not make such a satisfying naturally aspirated noise like the Ferrari, and it might feel less asphalt-sucking than the GT3 range. Maybe it scrapes its chin entirely too much in exactly these sorts of drive situations at which it thrives, or perhaps the other two cars would pull away from me slightly if we were re-doing the less contorted roads of Day Two. But on this Day Three route under any conditions, the Macca reigns. Even the "seamless shift" gearbox is finally seamlessly shifting while the revs stay high all afternoon.

I was hoping they'd surprise me after I rolled into Monaco, telling me, "Now, you need to drive it back to Woking." No such luck. Sardi's to the Portofino Inn awaits, I guess.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 16 Comments
      KAG
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lucky man
      leo
      • 2 Years Ago
      yeah they'd tested this thing against the 458 and no one has given it the nod over it that sound that you mention on the 458 is enough to make me select it over any other car but to each his own as I still like this car just not as much as the 458 wish i could be lucky enough to drive any of them...
      damienreiduae
      • 2 Years Ago
      Please kill this line of stories already. Nobody cares.
        Brex
        • 2 Years Ago
        @damienreiduae
        Funny, I came to AB today just to see and read the Day 3 report and I think it's the best original content they've produced. That, and the 12C tops the list of cars I'd own... if I was able. MD, if you're looking for some feedback, today's write up wasn't the best and there were a couple of sentences I tripped over - more than once. But, overall, well done.
      ThomasP
      • 2 Years Ago
      Not sure how I feel about this article starting with "So yeah,"
      Frisky_Dingo
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm totally sure I'd prefer this to the 458 Italia. A GT3 RS as well. A RS 4.0?? I don't know about that one. At any rate, this must have been a truly epic drive, in any sports car, let alone this McLaren.
        Jason
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Frisky_Dingo
        Why are you totally sure you would prefer this to the 458 Italia?
          Firefly
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jason
          As Frisky has stated in his reply, though I respect Ferarri as a company, I have never truly been as excited when I've seen them. To me, the newer they get the less I like the styling. I have always been a Lamborghini guy anyway. When someone says that the Ferarri has better styling, that I feel is an insult to other people's opinions, as styling is a subjective element and depends on the individual. You may find it artful while another may find it hideous. Neither of you is wrong. When others have compared the Mclaren to the 458, many people who praise other cars for their amazing control have blasted the Mclaren for being VERY controlled, while a tail-happy Ferarri was more well received. If I had to pick a Ferarri (Lord forbid...) I'd get an F50, as that is the only Ferarri I have ever liked. But a choice? Mclaren. Just my opinion...
          Frisky_Dingo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jason
          I'm not the biggest Ferrari fan first off. And their newer stuff is a little on the origami/insect styling side for my tastes. Then there's the whole Ferraris and fire combo and the piece Chris Harris did on their ringers taking part in comparos and reviews. It just kinda rubs me the wrong way.
      Chris
      • 2 Years Ago
      Really getting tired of this mutli-day press release . . .
      MONTEGOD7SS
      • 2 Years Ago
      GT3 RS 4.0, please.
      Chris
      • 2 Years Ago
      Really getting tired of this multi-part press release . . .
      Jonathan Wayne
      • 2 Years Ago
      Whenever I get in my buddy's red 430 Spider not one thought is ever given to the McLaren and that is the truth. Ferraris are just gorgeous and amazing works of art, the sound is amazing and everyone knows what they are, even 5 year old little kids to 65 year old grandmothers. I know people that have strayed and bought other cars like my one colleague that bought a Noble, but in the end she got rid of it and bought a Ferrari. Another guy got a GT-R and sold it and bought a Gallardo. In the end most people will go back to either a Porsche, a Ferrari or Lamborghini and that is the truth. One guy I know is on his 3rd Ferrari in 5 years. Had a 360, then got a 430 and now just got a 458. If you are super rich and have multiple super cars then yes you might buy a McLaren, but if you had to buy just one, then I would bet most people would not.
        AU3783
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jonathan Wayne
        i'm sure no one gets into their friend's mclaren f1 and thinks about how terrible it is either. This is their second production car...give the market some time to decide what buyers will fall back on.
        Relyat08
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jonathan Wayne
        There are probably 15 cars I would buy before I bought a Ferrari. It all depends on what you want. Some people want that glamor and attention from owning a Ferrari or Lamborghini over something less recognizable, but I would much rather have something that may not be as recognizable, but provides better performance than those cars. Don't get me wrong, I love Ferrari and Lamborghini, but I would by the Mclaren before I buy either of those.
      torqued
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great photography!
    • Load More Comments