The tiniest detail makes the biggest difference. In true Spider style, the McLaren 12C Spider is obsessed with precision.
Practicality and ergonomics
Doing grocery shopping with it has no problem, the car comes with two storage bags and an additional storage compartment when the roof is up. Just remember to take your grocery out before opening the roof, though, there is a courtesy reminder on the dashboard.
In most case, scissors doors are not friendly for tight parking space, but they are ergonomic purpose for getting in the 12C. It is surprisingly easy to get in and out of the car, but if instead used the traditional doors, it may make it awkward to get through the door sill, which are wide and high, wrapping around the MonoCell to provide good side impact protection, but primarily that MonoCell structure makes the car very stiff and rigid. On the test car which has the optional electric seats, when opening the door, the seats will move backwards to give you more space to get in and out. Very considerate indeed.
Just one minor thing on the door to mention: On this 2013 version, I found there is a hidden button to press, which differs from the previous one which trickly required a sliding finger to open. The new version is perhaps more intuitive to use, but aren’t supercars suppose to be outside the box?
Driving in Hong Kong with the roof open, you get to see all the magnificent skyscrapers above. Unlike some supercars, the 12C spider has very good viewing angle which makes it very easy to park or negotiating tight spaces in traffic. If you had followed a super car driving on road humps, you will probably find them going very slowly to avoid scraping the underneath, as well as to avoid back pain from going on humps with stiff suspension. The 12C damper in normal mode setting is rather comfortable compared with other supercar. Furthermore, on our test car, there is an optional extra fitted to improve ground clearance. The Vehicle Lift option allows the car to rise up further 40mm at the front and 25mm at the rear, even at speed up to 60km/h. After firing up the 12C spider engine, you will get the attention from the people around you, hearing the engine grunting sound. On the other hand, driving a Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius is surly more economical, but because their electric motors are virtually silence and pedestrians may not notice the car when crossing the road. Furthermore their skinny low rolling resistance tyres are not as effective as fat sticky tyres when you need to make an emergency stop to avoid hitting the iPod Zombie who still has not noticed your car’s presence. I hope I have by now convinced you that the 12C spider is an ideal city car!
By default, the 12C will be engaged in normal mode, until you have chosen the N/S/T modes on the dials and press the “Active” button. Under normal mode, the car is extremely pleasant to drive. The suspensions dampen the bumps on the road nicely and you can feel the suspensions react very fast. Cruising in the city and highway, the rev meter hardly ever goes beyond 2000rpm. Step hard on the accelerator and instantly you can feel there is immense of power pulling the car away.
When you have reached the twisty hilly road, feel free to turn the N/S/T dials to sport mode and you will feel the suspensions have tightened up and the gearshifts are crisper. The dual clutch 7 speed Seamless Shift Gearbox does an amazing job to change gears instantly. Before you trigger the gear shift paddle, the second clutch has already engaged with the gear you about to shift. At the pull of paddle, the first clutch disengages and the second clutch is almost instantly engaged with the engine and the gears.
The power comes from a twin turbo 3.8L V8 engine weighting just less than 200kg, pumping out 616bhp at 7500rpm, and 600Nm of torque at a wide range of 4000rpm to 7000rpm. That is a lot of power for a car weighing about 1450kg* which is less than an average family saloon. Turbo had been critised, the acceleration feels very linear which there is no apparent button to turn off all the driving aid of the car.
The claimed consumption is 24.2mpg (EU combined) which is cheaper to run on fuel than a Mercedes S500. Would you really want to drive the 12C spider in such manner? After 200km (124.278) of partly insane driving, partly cruising and partly sitting in traffic, the 12C spider consumed 55 litre (12.0983) of petrol and that works out just a little above 10mpg. I suspect most owners are not bothered by the expense. however owners of the coupe and spider can proudly say to a environmentalist or a prius owner that the mp4 12c engine release the least co2 per bhp.
Anyone from casual driver who like a little bit of driving pleasure to adrenaline filled hard core driver pushing the car’s limit will like it with a price tag of a little flat in Hong Kong to enjoy this beautiful engineering art. If you are thinking of spending 4m on a car, the coupe with no compromise and a brilliant open top car should be placed on the list too beside a 458 or Gallardo.
Tested by Dr. KEN CHAN
News: Exclusive 12C B&W Edition produced for Hong Kong has arrived
McLaren Hong Kong has ordered 2 units of the 12C B&W Edition from *MSO which features a unique body colour in white contrasted with a gloss black roof-top, front splitter, airbrake, mirror casings and newly designed diamond-cut wheel finish. A special painted interior of vent bezels including instrument cluster bezel are in brilliant white .
Price tag: HKD 4,680,000
*MSO = McLaren Special Operations