The brakes are spectacularly effective. Easy to modulate and full of feel on the road, the bespoke lightweight steel rotor and alloy caliper system from Brembo/AP Racing saves weight over a conventional design, making the ceramic option seem like an expensive extravagance.
To test its mettle to the full, I made a simulated emergency stop from 160 km/h (100 mph) on the runway. The McLaren scrubbed speed like a pair of anchors had been thrown out; I removed both hands from the wheel. The car just stopped dead straight with no drama. The built-in anti-dive feature of the active damping, and the air brake effect created by the rear spoiler rising to its maximum angle, help to keep weight transfer in check and enhance braking performance.
However, there are times when sheer power alone is not enough, and if the McLaren beats the Ferrari in the chassis department, it loses points on engine charisma. No turbocharged motor has as sharp a throttle response as a good normally aspirated one, least of all one as brilliant as the Ferrari’s. And even in Track mode, when the MP4-12C’s otherwise purposeful soundtrack is at its best, it is still not as spine tingling as the Ferrari’s.
In the end, the depth and breadth of the McLaren MP4-12C’s abilities are simply astonishing, and as a complete package, the MP4-12C rewrites the supercar book so convincingly that any rival will be hard pressed to match its unique spread of abilities. While it may be too perfect in some ways for some tastes, the important thing is that it exists. The supercar bar has been undisputedly raised a whole notch higher.
2012 McLaren MP4-12C
Longitudinal mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
3.8-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, twin-turbocharged
Seven-speed SSG automated manual
Front and rear independent double wishbones, active dampers, anti-dive and anti-squat
Alloy calipers, lightweight steel rotors
Length/Width/Height (in.): 177.4/75.2/47.2
Wheelbase: 105.1 in.
Curb Weight: 3,161 lb
Peak Power: 592 hp @ 7000 rpm
Peak Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
0-62 mph: 3.3 sec.
Top Speed: 205 mph