McLaren 12C coupe (2011-2014)
"The McLaren 12C is one of the fastest cars you can buy today."
- Impressive performance
- Brilliant to drive
- Strong brand
- Plain looks for this class
- Interior lacks appeal of rivals
- Not as spectacular as Italian supercars
The McLaren 12C really is one of the fastest cars out there. It can do the 0-62mph sprint in 2.9 seconds, making it faster than rivals like the Ferrari 458. It's beautifully built and its turbocharged V8 engine sounds absolutely incredible. It also gets a seven-speed semi-automatic gearbox and rear-wheel drive. Finally, an advanced traction-control system helps keep you out of trouble on wet roads.
MPG, running costs & CO2
As demand for the McLaren outstrips supply, you'll lose little money when you go to sell it on. In fact, you could even make a small profit. There's also a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, but unlike the Ferrari 458, which comes with seven years' free servicing, you'll have to cough up for any maintenance. Fuel economy isn't great – but that's to be expected.
Engines, drive & performance
You'll never have to explain the appeal of the McLaren's performance to passengers: the two-seater is astonishingly fast. Carbon-ceramic brakes give you huge stopping power, while the steering is very responsive. Plus its high-tech chassis technology, controlled using buttons on the narrow centre console, allows you to switch the suspension, steering and electronic stability control between Normal, Sport and Track modes. Track mode (the most extreme setting) is very firm, but delivers an impressive blend of stability and grip.
Interior & comfort
The 12C's chassis technology certainly offers lots of performance, but in its Normal setting, it makes the car very comfortable, too. By adjusting the stiffness of the suspension, the McLaren can be as comfortable as a luxury limousine. Inside, the subdued interior adds to the sense of calm. It may not be the most attractive car to look at, but it does offer a good driving position and very supportive seats.
Practicality & boot space
With two seats and an unflinching focus on high performance, the McLaren could never be described as a practical car. Yet it's surprisingly spacious inside and there are lots of cubbyholes around the cabin. The boot is pretty small, though, and there's no glovebox. If you're planning a weekend away, it might be worth getting your luggage sent ahead!
Reliability & safety
McLaren didn't just built the carbon body and suspension of the 12C. It also built its own engine and its own factory to put it together. The company's success in Formula One is built on its ability to create reliable cars and while the 12C suffered a few problems early on, McLaren prides itself on superior customer care and has a growing global dealer network to provide ever-improving support.
Price, value for money & options
By the time you've finished with the optional extras (of which there are literally thousands), you'll have spent at least £190,000 on your new McLaren 12C. One we drove had £50,000 worth of extras fitted. But while it might not fit the conventional definition of 'value for money,' it is cheaper than its rivals.