The McLaren MP4-12C delivers outstanding supercar
performance while remaining a viable vehicle for
everyday use, as IndyCar driver Oriol Servia discovered.
The MP4-12C, while stunning in its
own right, is a different animal. Still only
accessible to those with considerable
means, as is any car with this level of
performance and exclusivity, it’s designed
to be much more tractable, easier to live
with and the first of a range of cars from
the British constructor – the company has
already built a GT3 racing version (see
sidebar) and announced a convertible
model of the MP4-12C. There may yet be
an equally rarefied successor for the
mighty McLaren F1, but this isn’t it.
any road car manufacturers make
racecars. For some, like Audi and its decade-plus dynasty of Le Mans dominators, racing
proves new technology and improves the
breed. For others, such as Ferrari and
Porsche, that’s a part of it, of course, but
there’s something deeper, too – something
in their DNA that compels them to race
and imbues every road car they make
with an aura and an authenticity that
can only come from competition.
But what happens when the premise is
reversed? What’s the result if a company
whose modus operandi is to compete and
win builds a road car? Perfection – or at
least something pretty close to it.
Still, it is every bit the racecar for the
road that one would expect from a
company that has 12 F1 Drivers’ World
Championships and eight Constructors’
World Championships, five Can-Am titles
McLaren has been building racecars
since 1964, when its eponymous founder
Bruce McLaren rolled out his first sports
racing car, the M1A. Its success in Can-Am,
Indy cars and, most notably, Formula 1
makes it one of racing’s storied marques,
and it remains a major force in F1 today.
Yet, except for a brief foray into road cars
with the groundbreaking F1 in 1993 and
the SLRs the company built for Mercedes-
Benz (and excluding the stillborn M6 GT),
it has stayed resolutely focused on its
core mission of building winning racecars.
Now, almost 20 years after the F1, comes
McLaren’s second and perhaps much more
ambitious expedition into road car territory
under its own name. While the F1 was the
first road car to feature full carbon fiber
chassis construction and had a unique
three-seat layout with a central driving
position, only 64 road versions were built,
making it inaccessible to all but a few, and
none in the U.S. – at least for road use.
and wins at Le Mans and Indianapolis.
Oriol Servia also knows a thing or two
about racecars, having made his living
driving Indy cars for the past decade or so.
This season, he’s elevating Panther DRR to
contender status in the IZOD IndyCar Series,
having already scored three top-five
finishes – including a stunning comeback
to finish fourth in the Indianapolis 500
after going a lap down for an unscheduled
pit stop with a puncture.
After first getting a chance to put an
MP4-12C through its paces in his native
Spain, then testing it again on the roads
around Los Angeles, Calif., Servia