The McLaren MP4-12C is the latest project from Hennessey Performance Engineering, and the folks tweaking the British supercar's twin-turbocharged V8 have given it 704 horsepower through an engine management software upgrade, intercooler upgrade, new stainless steel exhaust system and dual air induction filters.

The software upgrade is the main contributor to the resultant HPE700 MP4-12C's power boost, raising turbo boost pressure to 23 pounds per square inch from the stock car's 21 psi to stuff more air - and fuel - into the combustion chambers. The new intercooler, with a water/methanol injection pump fitted downstream before the twin throttle bodies, keeps intake air cool and dense, and the intake and exhaust upgrades help to move air and exhaust into and out of the engine as smoothly as possible. The water/methanol injection, mixed in equal parts, starts its cooling charge at seven psi of boost and reaches full flow by 15 psi, allowing the twin-turbo V8 to produce 704 reliable horsepower.

Hennessey took the stock MP4-12C to the track to perform testing for some baseline numbers, and it was able to pull from 60 miles per hour to 130 mph in 8.15 seconds - quick enough to give a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano and Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 Superveloce runs for their money. After the Hennessey upgrades were fitted, the HPE700 MP4-12C did the same run a full second quicker. The car can also accelerate from 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds and do the quarter mile in 10.3 seconds at 137 mph.

Taking jarringly fast supercars down the diabolical path to 700+hp seems to be the norm at Hennessey these days, as evinced by the recent HPE700 Twin Turbo Ferrari 458 - also capable of 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds - we just hope the apocalypse holds off long enough to squeeze in a comparison test (or at least a drag race).
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Hennessey HPE700 Performance Upgrade

Power:
• 704 Horsepower @ 7,500 rpm
• 538 lb-ft Torque @ 5,800 rpm

Performance:
• 0-60 mph: 2.8 sec.
• 1/4 mile: 10.3 sec. @ 137 mph

HPE700 McLaren MP4-12C Upgrade Includes:
• Engine Management Software Upgrade (external from factory ECU)
• Intercooler Heat Exchanger Cooling Upgrade
• Dual Air Induction Filters
• Stainless Steel Exhaust System Upgrade
• Professional Installation
• Dyno Tuning & Road Testing
• Serial-Numbered Dash & Engine Plaques
• HPE700 Exterior Badging
• Hennessey Exterior Badging
• 1 Year / 12,000 Mile Limited Warranty

McLaren MP4-12C: Making Woking's Wonder Quicker
It's good to be back in a McLaren MP4-12C, if only briefly before Hennessey's ECU neurosurgeons unlock the secrets of even more power. The last time for me was at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada, doing a comparison test for Road & Track with the Ferrari 458 Italia and Corvette ZR1 using the facility's 1.5-mile Radical Loop.

For cars with such explosive power and speed, the track's tight-radius corners and short chutes made for a bit of a bull-in-a-china shop experience, but we all came away impressed with the McLaren's ability to put power down in lower gears. On the sweeper leading on to the back straight, you could feel the MP4-12C's high-speed stability as it powered over a sizable crest that can be the undoing of cars with less aero downforce and suspect suspension kinematics. It did tend to plow a bit more than either the more highly strung Ferrari or the ZR1 (with its borderline-streetable Michelin Pilot Cup Sports) on the track's tightest right-hander, but its suspension offered a nice combination of both suppleness and control. It's said a car's character directly correlates to the environment in which it's developed, so it follows the McLaren would be the ideal automotive tool to devour England's narrow, undulating B-roads, with a couple of roundabout skidpad laps thrown in for dessert.

At Hennessey, we're in the process of upgrading a customer's MP4-12C with our exclusive tuning, with the end goal of making 700 bhp at the crank. We'll soon perform a dyno pull to establish baseline horsepower and torque numbers, and if the R&T test was any indication we ought to see north of 500 rwhp from the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 straight from McLaren's Woking factory. We did a couple of 60-130 mph runs to establish baseline performance as well, with the console-configurable Powertrain settings on "Track" for the quickest possible shifts and the rear wing in the intermediate downforce position. The beauty of this test is that it takes launch variables out of the equation and showcases pure power. An average of two runs was 8.15 seconds, which puts it in the exclusive company of the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano and Lamborghini Murciélago LP670-4 SuperVeloce.

It's a beautiful car that assaults each and every sense. The sounds are deeper, more burly than you'd expect from 3.8 liters, the capsule-like cockpit is redolent with fine leather, and the composite bodywork-while not chiseled to the point of inflicting flesh wounds, like the Lamborghini Aventador's for example-looks powerfully coiled and ready to spring. The mere act of getting into an MP4-12C is full of specialness and ceremony; swipe the underside of the intake channel cut into the door (it pivots up and forward), negotiate the formidable carbon-fiber sill and settle into an exotically sculpted bucket that clings remora-like to your backside. And how cool is that airbrake that pops into full-downforce mode above 60 mph when you get hard into the brakes? We can't wait to sample more thrust in this already formidable rocket.

McLaren MP4-12C-HPE700 package complete!
Whilst we may have created something of a kerfuffle over at McLaren with our code-cracking of its supercar's engine-control computer, we at Hennessey Performance are overjoyed with the results of the HPE700 upgrade. We calculate a stout 704 horsepower at the crankshaft, based on a dyno pull that saw 571.6 horsepower at the rear wheels. That's a significant gain over the 2012 car's 616 crank horsepower from its 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8. A gain of nearly 90 horsepower is, to use another British expression, the dog's bollocks.

It wasn't without a little angst, though, as the McLaren's stability-control nannies intervened on our attempts to generate a baseline dyno pull at our Southern California shop. Without the front wheels moving, the computer throws a red flag, thinking the car is sliding, spinning or otherwise up to no good, and cuts power drastically. Ultimately, after the Hennessey Performance ECU upgrade was installed, we sourced a Mustang AWD 500 SE dyno to generate the numbers.

Performance means little if it's short-lived, so with an eye toward avoiding any detonation we also fitted a water/methanol injection system whose pump and tank fit neatly in the front luggage compartment. All told, The HPE700 upgrade raises boost pressure from 21 to 23 psi, so the system starts cooling the charge at 7 psi with maximum flow achieved at 15 psi and upward, delivering a 50/50 water/ methanol mixture through nozzles located just upstream of the MP4-12C's twin e-throttles.

We can tell you that the McLaren rips a far more ragged hole through the atmosphere in the 60-130 mph acceleration test. The display on our VBox GPS data recorder backed up our finely calibrated inner-ear accelerometer-a 7.15-sec. two-way average, a full 1-second improvement over the stock car. If other published numbers for this contest are to be believed, that puts the McLaren (whose 2013 list price is $239,400) into the realm of far pricier supercars including the Ferrari Enzo and Porsche Carrera GT. In any language...even the Queen's English...that's flat-out, scalding fast.

Doug Kott, Communications Manager for Hennessey Performance, brings 25 years of automotive journalism experience and vehicle evaluation skills to his current position.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      CadiVetteFerrari
      • 1 Year Ago
      Anything they touch turns to dust. I'd rather deal with LPE (Lingenfelter), who has never had the terrible reputation of Hennessey.
      Koushiro Izumi
      • 1 Year Ago
      Since Hennessey failed to show a modified Escalade of theirs beat a GT-R without using camera tricks, I'm gonna call BS on this.
        Charrop
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Koushiro Izumi
        The numbers are pretty easy to believe considering they added meth injection and got rid of the pieces that keep the intake/exhaust noise more refined. They got rid of the refinement and everyday usability in return for straight-line speed, like typical Americans.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Charrop
          Tuners love to tune. Regardless of country. Yeah, frequently they act like knuckleheads and just add more HP because more is more. If you don't like it, don't buy it. Sheesh.
          CadiVetteFerrari
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Charrop
          Go read the Edmunds piece about how the C7 drives as good or better than the 911. Typical condescending comment.
          Charrop
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Charrop
          The comment was in reference to the US tuning community, not OEM manufacturers.
          CadiVetteFerrari
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Charrop
          Well, in that case, I apologize.
      Blackie
      • 1 Year Ago
      Of all the things in human history that don't matter at all, this is pretty far up the list. In other news, happy anniversary, Halliburton. Today was the lucky day your path to 39.5 billion dollars of our government's money was cemented.
        jebibudala
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Blackie
        40 billion? pshhhhh. That's chump change these days. With yet another war due in the horizons, who knows how much that one will cost. I bet people wish they'd voted for Ron Paul right about now. But I'm more interested in Miley Cyrus's sledge hammer licking, naked wrecking ball riding twerk fest.
      Bernard
      • 1 Year Ago
      Who let Hennessey touch a McLaren?
      JJ
      • 1 Year Ago
      Some cars are better left as they are, and this is defenetly this is one of them.
      Nathan
      • 1 Year Ago
      lol can only imagine what the lot of philistines at Hennessey did to the driving dynamics of the car. Plz go.
      AcidTonic
      • 1 Year Ago
      Eh, meth injection is not as "foolproof" or reliable as thought. Many tuners are not big fans of it without the proper failsafes. Such as dual nozzles, ecu detection of faults to lower ignition timing or add fuel. Otherwise one failure of the meth pump or a clogged nozzle or a dude forgetting to refill the meth tank and BOOOM. Bye bye expensive engine. I wouldn't even run meth on my turbo 2.0, let alone a Mclaren.
        John
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AcidTonic
        Meth is completely safe depending on how you run it. I personally don't like to dial in added timing when using meth just in case a failure does happen. Instead I choose to use it at added cooling and fueling (the computer will self correct for this when it sees a rich condition) for which it is perfect. If a component fails you just lose a bit of cooling and nothing bad happens.
      Preston
      • 1 Year Ago
      So is that 700hp to the wheels?
      Doss
      • 1 Year Ago
      For the record, I don't care much about the history of Hennessey and his customers because I will never be one. What is it with Autoblog and Hennessey? Is Hennessey's PR department that good or do they have a direct contact somewhere in Autoblog? It seems like Hennessey gets way more coverage than any other tuner here. I don't have numbers to back it up, but that's what it seems like.
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