lb-ft @ 3000 - 7000 rpm
hp @ 7000 rpm
lbs per hp
155.8 hp per liter
seconds @ 135 mph
(from McLaren Press
Release) McLAREN FORMULA 1 TECHNOLOGY DELIVERS ULTIMATE
PERFORMANCE ON TRACK AND ROAD IN THE NEW MP4-12C
• Formula 1
integration - technologies, processes and people - inspire the
12C’s headline performance data and record lap times
• 30 years of carbon composite chassis design at McLaren
inspires the 12C’s revolutionary carbon MonoCell: the
lightweight safety cell, designed around the driver
• Innovative chassis concept offers performance foundation:
McLaren Airbrake and McLaren Brake Steer support 12C dynamics;
bespoke ProActive Chassis Control suspension and SSG
transmission deliver ultimate track times and supreme on road
comfort and behaviour
• Debut media test, and first recorded hot-lap, of MP4-12C at
Nürburgring Nordschleife captured on film at
In 2011, a McLaren team
with experience in developing successful Formula 1 cars and
expertise from launching McLaren cars in the past, has launched a
new type of sports car. The groundbreaking new MP4-12C features
technology born on the race track, and for the first time available
in a road car.
The 12C development team has pushed the car to its limits in all
climates and driving scenarios in Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden,
Bahrain, the USA, and South Africa, but much of the car’s
performance credentials have been honed on the broken surfaces and
offset cambers much closer to home; Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey,
Located close to the McLaren Technology Centre, Dunsfold has proved
an effective ‘home’ for the 12C development programme. It is there
that bespoke components including the one-piece carbon ‘MonoCell’
chassis, unique Proactive Chassis Control suspension system,
race-derived Brake Steer and McLaren Airbrake were first tested and
tuned in unison.
Fast laps on world-famous test
Unusually for a
development track, Dunsfold is also a very public place: hundreds of
millions of people have, in fact, followed cars around its eight
corners, having watched Top Gear’s ‘The Stig’, on line and on TV,
take the world’s best sports cars to task at the Surrey circuit.
And earlier this year, the McLaren MP4-12C sealed its position at
the top of the TV show’s laptime leaderboard, having achieved a
record time for a mid-engine sports car, and the fastest lap for a
typical road-going performance car. A stunning 1:16.2 lap of
Dunsfold Aerodrome at the hands of ‘The Stig’ in a production
specification 12C, was particularly rewarding for the dedication
displayed by the 12C’s Dunsfold-based development team. http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear/show/powerlaps.shtml.
Prototype versions of the 12C featuring unique race-bred
technologies have undertaken test programmes in every imaginable
environment, at circuits and proving grounds all over the world. In
all cases, data captured by McLaren Electronic Systems telemetry
equipment has shown the 12C to be quicker than the lap times set
when testing benchmark competitor cars.
In its debut Nürburgring Nordschleife media test, by German
performance car specialist publication Sport Auto, Editor-in Chief,
and ‘Ring expert, Horst von Saurma-Jeltsch recorded a superb
single-lap time of 7:28* in a production specification 12C at the
famous circuit. Independent data from Sport Auto shows the 12C in
its one and only recorded flying lap to-date to be already ten
seconds quicker around ‘The Green Hell’ at the hands of von
Saurma-Jeltsch than the nearest Ferrari and quicker even than
‘hypercars’ from Koenigsegg and Pagani.*
The 12C was conceived at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, UK
under the same roof as McLaren Racing’s Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Formula 1 team: ‘performance’ lies at the heart of the 12C and the
McLaren Automotive team responsible for its design, development,
engineering and now manufacture. The result is a car that McLaren
believes is faster, more efficient, more agile and even more
comfortable than any other sports car in the world. A unique
combination of attributes.
MP4-12C performance data
0 - 200kph in
9.1s (8.9s on optional Corsa tyres)
CO2 emissions of 279g/km (equating to 24.2 EU mpg combined)
0 - 100kph in 3.3s (3.1s with optional Corsa tyres)
top speed: 330kph (205mph)
100 - 0 kph in 30.5 m (100 ft)
¼ mile: 10.9s @ 135 mph
dry weight (with lightweight options): 1301kgs / 2868 lbs
carbon MonoCell chassis weight: 75kgs / 165 lbs
power:weight (lightweight options): 461PS / 455bhp per tonne.
power: 600PS (592bhp) at 7,000 rpm
torque: 600Nm between 3,000 – 7,000 rpm
CO2 per horsepower: 0.47
For racing and road: the world’s
most advanced simulator
undertook an advanced simulation programme to define the technical
specification of the 12C, an approach that the McLaren Formula 1
team takes every time it designs a new race car. The McLaren
simulator is believed to be the most advanced in motorsport, and was
conceived by the Technical Director responsible for the 12C, Dick
Glover, during his time in McLaren Racing.
Glover, now occupying a new position as Director of Research, and
one of many ex-McLaren Racing experts now at McLaren Automotive,
said: “Having the McLaren simulator at our disposal from the start
of the 12C development programme has been a tremendous asset.
“We were able to accurately predict the dynamic performance of our
very first concept-phase vehicle and ensure that it was suitable for
extreme testing from day one. It would be incredibly difficult to
achieve similar results if you were designing and building a car
“We use professional racing drivers in our development team.
Throughout the real-world testing programme we continually schedule
time for them in the simulator to fine tune the performance and
driving characteristics of the 12C. This experience is then
validated back against real-world conditions at one of the test
facilities we use around the world. It is an ongoing, dynamic,
feedback process that mixes the best of technology with the best
hands-on track work,” Glover concluded.
The 12C development team took simulation to a new level as it sought
to ensure the prototype cars were pushed to their absolute limits.
This innovation in development was put into action at a Spanish test
facility reproducing the impact of the famous Nürburgring
Nordschleife. The Nordschleife in Germany is regarded as the world’s
ultimate test circuit due to its combination of challenging surfaces
and 20.81km (12.93m) length. McLaren Automotive visited the
Nordschleife on several occasions for periods of sustained testing,
but with the circuit being closed during winter months, the
development team identified a way of recreating the extreme
conditions found at the Nordschleife in a different environment.
Dick Glover said: “We have a permanent test base at the Applus
IDIADA proving ground in Northern Spain. Our team of engineers took
data from the Nordschleife circuit including lateral g performance,
vertical road inputs, engine throttle position and gearing, and
created a programme which could be undertaken at IDIADA, which we
call the ‘Idi-schleife Concept’.
“This programme allowed us to undertake challenging and aggressive
testing to the level experienced at the Nordschleife but at a
location where we can run testing literally twenty-four hours, seven
days a week and quickly move our cars closer to their development
targets,” Glover concluded.
From simulation to reality: ‘Pure
Antony Sheriff, McLaren
Automotive’s Managing Director: “The overriding principle that has
driven us to where we are today is that every one of our cars will
be ‘pure’ McLaren. This means that each and every component is
conceived, designed and produced to McLaren’s specification to meet
the extreme requirements of the 12C, from its revolutionary carbon
MonoCell to the switchgear. There are no carryover components in the
12C. Similarly, our test programmes, production processes and
aftersales plans are also brand new and bespoke to McLaren.
“One fundamental result of this passion to produce a pure McLaren is
that the 12C is what I call the ‘and’ car. Compared to main rivals,
it has better performance ‘and’ is more fuel efficient; it is
lighter ‘and’ stronger, safer ‘and’ fully equipped; it is smaller in
its exterior dimensions ‘and’ spacious inside; it’s handling
characteristics will deliver unbeatable track times ‘and’ yet it is
more comfortable on road.
“As for the 12C’s performance, efficiency is a key aim; efficiency
in performance is a goal that we believe our customers will
appreciate. With 600PS it is the most powerful car in its class, yet
with a CO2 figures of just 279g/km, when we launched the 12C it
produced each horsepower more efficiently than any car on sale today
featuring a petrol, diesel or even hybrid engine,” Sheriff
12C Carbon MonoCell: the essence
of a racing car for the road
In 1981 McLaren Racing
introduced the carbon monocoque to Formula 1: it offered an
unbeatable combination of strength and lightness and, at Silverstone
that year, John Watson piloted the MP4-1 to first place in the
British Grands Prix, recording the debut win for a carbon-based
Formula 1 car.
On October 16th 2011, McLaren competed in its 700th Formula 1 race
in South Korea, with Lewis Hamilton taking the racing team’s 200th
carbon fibre chassis car to yet another podium position, just a week
after Jenson Button took top spot at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Statistics that mean no further explanation is required as to why
McLaren settled on a carbon chassis for the MP4-12C: the first
carbon chassis in a volume production sports car below £200,000, and
the first to be produced as a one-piece moulded chassis. But not the
first carbon-based car from McLaren, of course.
The legendary McLaren F1 sports car was the first road car to
feature a carbon chassis when it launched in 1993. With 2,153 SLRs
manufactured in its seven year production run, the 2003 – 2009 SLR
is the most successful car in the £300,000+ price-point and the most
successful of any car built on a carbon-fibre chassis. Since 1981,
McLaren has never built a car without a carbon chassis.
Now, the 12C takes carbon innovation to a new level. The MonoCell is
a unique one-piece moulded chassis that weighs just 75kgs (165lbs).
The MonoCell concept required it to provide the perfect combination
of occupant space, structural integrity, light weight, and
relatively low construction costs. And the ideal chassis from which
to deliver ground-breaking efficiency and performance in the sports
Mark Vinnels, Programme Director at McLaren Automotive, said: “With
30 years experience in carbon technology, the physical benefits of
carbon are well known at McLaren. What we are now progressing, on
the 12C and future models, is making serious in-roads into economies
of scale without reducing quality.
“The goal, that we are confident we have achieved, is to bring
supercar performance to a new market, combined with never-before
achieved levels of efficiency. Having met many of our future
customers around the world, there is no doubt that those in the
market for high-performance sports cars are looking for cars that
offer more than just looks and power. Innovation, technology, and
accessible performance are in demand. We believe that the 12C, with
a one-piece moulded carbon chassis at its heart, heralds a new
future for sports car design,” Vinnels concluded.
The MonoCell is a lightweight, hollow, very strong and predictable
structure that is produced in one piece through the Resin Transfer
Moulding (RTM) process.
The production process begins by loading dry carbon fibre into a
complex 35-ton steel tool before it is pressed together, heated and
then injected with epoxy resin. Using a steel tool is new to the
manufacturing process: historically, carbon chassis’ have been
formed in ‘soft’ tooling of composite materials, which adds
production costs and time. The subsequent post-curing process
hardens the resin, and the MonoCell then enters a booth where key
surfaces are machined with great precision in preparation for
vehicle assembly. The process between forming and curing produces
the MonoCell as a hollow structure, and is the key to the chassis’
combination of strength and light weight.
Once complete, the MonoCell is placed into a unique McLaren-designed
test rig and subjected to high stresses, in order to prove that each
part is capable of meeting exacting performance standards.
Looking back, the carbon chassis of the McLaren F1 was produced
manually and took up to 3,000 hours to complete each unit. The
bonded carbon chassis of the SLR reduced that manufacturing time
ten-fold. The new carbon manufacturing process developed for the 12C
will mean the MonoCell can be produced in a four hour cycle.
Investing in this process means McLaren Automotive is making carbon
a reality to sports car enthusiasts seeking the ultimate in
lightweight and safe chassis construction, at a price point more
affordable to a wider market.
Claudio Santoni, Function Group Manager for Body Structures at
McLaren Automotive, said: “With the carbon MonoCell, the 12C offers
owners more than just exceptional occupant safety. It is incredibly
light, which helps reduce the 12C’s CO2 emissions and improve fuel
efficiency. For the same reason; acceleration, braking, changes of
direction and vehicle stability are all significantly improved.
Using a carbon composite means we can manufacture the MonoCell with
aerospace industry levels of precision, which is fundamental to
accurate dynamic suspension geometry control.”
The advantages that this innovative carbon chassis brings to the
sub-£200,000 sports car market are:
The 12C MonoCell weighs just 75kgs, some 25 per cent lighter
than a comparable aluminium chassis. Carbon fibre forms the
structural basis for the whole car and contributes to the car’s
low overall weight and overall efficiency.
High torsional rigidity: The MonoCell is 25 per cent
stiffer than an equivalent all metal structure and provides the
12C with a higher torsional stiffness to weight ratio than
competitors. This inherent rigidity means the unique front
suspension system, mounted directly onto the MonoCell, requires
less compromise for the flexibility of the suspension itself.
Therefore, it is easier to develop the unique balance between
supple ride and precise handling that McLaren has targeted.
A very strong safety cell: The MonoCell offers greater
occupant safety. It acts as a safety survival cell, as it does
for a Formula 1 car.
Ease of repair: Aluminium extrusions and castings are jig
welded into the finished assembly and bolted directly to the
MonoCell. In an accident, the light weight aluminium alloy front
and rear structures absorb impact forces and can be replaced
easily, whereas cars with full aluminium chassis use their
structure to absorb and crumple on impact, causing more damage
(and expense) to the whole structure, including the passenger
Low perishability: Carbon composites do not degrade over
time like metal structures that fatigue. One is able to get into
a 15-year-old McLaren F1 and there is none of the tiredness or
lack of structural integrity that afflicts traditional cars that
have suffered a hard life. The 12C will feel as good as new in
this respect for decades.
Extreme dimensional accuracy: There is absolute
predictability in the production process. In any plane or
dimension, between two points, every MonoCell will be within
half a millimetre level of accuracy. This ensures an extremeely
high level of build quality and predictable performance.
No compromise: Lightweight and
efficient new 600PS powertrain
The unique new M838T
engine powering the McLaren MP4-12C is a 3.8-litre twin turbo V8
engine, designed by McLaren Automotive.
Weighing 199kg (439lbs), the M838T features a dry sump lubrication
system and a flat plane crankshaft, which has allowed McLaren
Automotive’s engineers to place the engine extremely low in the
chassis, lowering the 12C’s centre of gravity and in turn optimising
the car’s handling responses.
At the rear, high level exhaust pipes exit the car from a mixing box
rather than a conventional silencer unit, saving weight. An optional
Sport Exhaust system made from Inconel, an extremely heat-resistant
nickel-chromium-based alloy, further reduces weight and enhances the
Richard Farquhar, Function Group Manager for Powertrain at McLaren
Automotive said: “The decision to design and build a turbocharged
engine for the 12C was taken early in the programme. We wanted low
weight, low rev range tractability, potent mid-range performance and
extensive high-rev reach. All that, and a level of refinement and
efficiency from a V8 that perhaps you might not expect. I’m
confident that the 12C powerplant delivers on all these aspects.”
Mated to the M838T is a dual clutch, seven-speed ‘SSG’ transmission.
Using the Active Dynamics Panel situated in the centre console of
the 12C’s cockpit, the characteristics of the SSG transmission can
be switched through three different settings: ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and
‘Track’ modes. Each provide a progressive immediacy of gear shift,
operated through finger-tip controls mounted on a rocker behind the
12C steering wheel: upshift by either pulling with the right hand or
pushing with the left, and vice versa to downshift. This ‘one-hand
shifting’ principal, and the satisfying mechanical ‘click’ on
gearchange, is reminiscent of the shift mechanics introduced and
still used in Formula 1 cars.
The SSG system has another trick in its box. If the driver enters a
sharp corner too quickly, requiring a strong braking action, there
is every chance he will not be in the ideal gear for smooth
acceleration out of the corner. If the left-shift control is
depressed and held, instead of ‘clicked’, while under braking, the
transmission matches engine speed to the correct lowest gear.
‘Automatic’ mode, ‘Launch Control’ and ‘Winter’ modes can also be
selected on the Active Dynamics Panel, the latter changing all
electronic functions to suit low grip conditions and delivering
maximum driver aid and support. There is no traditional manual
transmission offered; the two pedal layout offered further scope to
create a narrow, lighter, and more comfortable car.
ProActive Chassis Control**
Working to the McLaren
mantra of ‘no compromise’, McLaren Automotive’s Vehicle Dynamics
engineers set about creating a brand-new suspension system for a
sports car that aims to deliver executive car-like ride quality and
a sharp, reactive handling response.
ProActive Chassis Control featuring Adaptive Damping provides much
higher stiffness in roll compared to conventional suspension
systems, and greater comfort in a straight line. The suspension is
based on double wishbones with coil springs. The dampers are
interconnected hydraulically and linked to a gas-filled accumulator,
providing adaptive responses depending on road conditions and driver
Paul Burnham, McLaren Automotive Vehicle Dynamics Manager - and
formerly McLaren Racing Senior Vehicle Dynamics Engineer - said: “It
is not enough just to be fast. The 12C has to innovate in every
area. An anti-roll bar is a common and simple solution to support
handling, but the disadvantage is that stiffness is always there,
whether the driver requires it or not. It is important to us that
the 12C is rewarding and comfortable to drive at low and high speed,
on the daily commute and on the track.”
The ProActive system features driver-adjustable roll control which
replaces the mechanical anti-roll bars that have been a standard
feature of road cars since time immemorial. It allows the car to
maintain precise roll control under heavy cornering while decoupling
the suspension in a straight line for excellent wheel articulation
As with the transmission, but independent from it, 12C drivers are
able to select ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ or ‘Track’ settings for the
suspension through the Active Dynamics Panel. Each mode is
responsible for managing roll control system pressure, Adaptive
Damping and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) settings. This
ensures bespoke tuning between handling, ride and transmission for
focused track activity, dynamic road driving, or comfortable
Burnham continues: “Adaptive Damping works by electronic sensors
monitoring the movement of the body and wheels and only increasing
damping when required. We believe Adaptive Damping as part of
ProActive Chassis Control is the best system for a driver to set the
car to his or her preferred driving modes. Its speed of response is
The fundamental principle behind ProActive Chassis Control is simple
physics: dampers featuring an hydraulic system of high and low
pressure valves interconnected left to right, front to back. When
high pressure meets high pressure under roll conditions, stiffness
results; when high pressure meets low under heave and warp, there is
more ‘give’ and comfort prevails. See ‘notes to editors’ for full
technical overview of ProActive Chassis Control.
Brake Steer and McLaren Airbrake
Brake Steer is a
variation on McLaren’s electronic driver aid used successfully in
Formula 1 on the 1997 McLaren MP4-12. It was subsequently banned,
indicating its clear performance advantage, but has been developed
for the 12C as the control system to prevent wheel spin and improve
Brake Steer does essentially the same job as a ‘torque-vectoring’
differential, but is up to 20 kgs lighter – part of the 12C’s
‘weight-down’ design philosophy. It uses the same hardware to
operate as the 12C’s Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system,
preventing wheel spin, reducing understeer, and significantly
boosting track times.
In essence, it is a system that applies braking forces to the inside
rear wheel when the car is entering a corner too quickly to make the
desired radius – supporting either a driver who has misjudged the
corner, or a skilled driver seeking the fastest possible entry and
exit from a corner. It supports later braking into corners, and
earlier power delivery on exiting.
Under normal circumstances these scenarios would tend towards a
state of understeer. Brake Steer controls this and makes the car
behave in a more neutral fashion, bringing its nose back on line. It
assesses the steering angle to determine the driver’s intended
course and applies the inside rear brake to increase yaw rate and
resume the desired course.
The 12C’s ESC system is managed electronically by the
driver-operated Active Dynamics Panel settings. The 12C provides
ample grip and safety in ‘Winter’ or ‘Normal’ modes, yet ESC offers
increased slip in ‘Sport’ or ‘Track’ modes. ESC can be switched off
by drivers seeking to engage with the limits of the car’s
performance in safe environments, but a supremely discreet level of
stability control still remains as a final layer of protection.
A unique McLaren Airbrake adds drag and rear downforce when deployed
under braking, helping the car to decelerate and meaning more rear
brake pressure can be used, hence stopping distances are shortened.
Adding rear downforce also improves the car’s stability under
braking to give a more secure feel and optimum track performance:
under typical heavy braking, the rear can go ‘light’ as weight is
transferred forwards, ‘pushing’ the front of the car down. With an
Airbrake, the car behaves as if ‘pulled’ from behind, counteracting
the tendency to dive, therefore maintaining traction.
Under heavy braking above 95 km/h, a piston operated by transmission
hydraulics raises the Airbrake to 32°. Once the first stage ‘wing
angle’ is set, and the Airbrake pushed into the airflow, the centre
of aerodynamic pressure forces the bottom of the ‘wing’ back up to
69°: aerodynamics raise the Airbrake to its full and maximum angle
rather than relying on a larger, and therefore heavier, motor. This
weight-saving solution took almost 50 per cent of weight out of the
At the press of a button on the Active Dynamics Panel inside the 12C
cabin, the Airbrake can be manually raised to 32°. Chris Goodwin,
McLaren Automotive’s Chief Test Driver, said: “This operation allows
the driver to significantly adapt the 12C’s handling
characteristics. Raising the Airbrake increases downforce and
therefore stability through circuit corners. It glues the 12C to the
track and the result is clear: a faster lap time!
“The option of engaging the Airbrake is indicative of McLaren DNA
present in the 12C. Some performance cars only offer one setting,
drama, whereas technology in the 12C, evolved from that designed by
McLaren for its Formula 1 cars, produces a range of driving
experiences like no other. Owners will enjoy discovering the depths
of the 12C’s dynamic performance on road and track, and as you’d
expect with race-bred technology, it will be applied in the safest
Wheels, tyres and brakes
The wheel and tyre
combination selected for the 12C is critical to performance and
handling agility. The front wheel diameter is 19” to ensure the
sidewall height is large enough to ensure good impact isolation, and
maintain excellent aerodynamics.
The MP4-12C is supplied as standard with Silver finish cast
aluminium 5-spoke design wheels (8.5”x 19” Front, 11” x 20” Rear).
Two wheel upgrade options are available. Lightweight and
Super-Lightweight Forged Wheels offer significant weight savings, in
turn increasing efficiency and performance. The 5-spoke Lightweight
Forged Wheels have a technical appearance and save 6kg, compared to
the standard wheels. The 10-spoke Super-Lightweight Forged Wheels
offer a pure performance look and are 10kg lighter in total. To
date, more than 70 per cent of 12C customers have ordered upgraded
Lightweight or Super-Lightweight Forged Wheels.
Standard tyres on the 12C are bespoke Pirelli P Zero’s, with latest
generation tyre technology. The 12C’s ProActive Chassis Control
system has allowed the Vehicle Dynamics team to use a softer
compound than is normal on high performance sports cars to achieve
extra grip. Pirelli P Zero Corsa ‘sport’ tyres are available as an
option for use at higher temperatures and on circuits. These give
more grip in normal conditions than the PZero tyres, but are less
effective than the standard tyres in standing water or temperatures
The standard forged aluminium bell and cast iron brake configuration
is bespoke to the 12C and has been optimised for weight, saving
around 8 kg from a standard cast iron option that was considered.
Naturally, it gives excellent performance in terms of braking bite
and feedback. As an upgrade, Ceramic Composite Matrix (CCM) brakes
may be specified.