The Honda NSX is a legend, and owners can always boast that another legend, Formula 1 great Ayrton Senna, had a hand in the mid-engined sportscar’s development. Now, future owners of the McLaren MP4-12C can claim that their 600 bhp supercar is endorsed by not one, but two Formula 1 champs! Well, almost. With the two most recent F1 champions racing under its name, McLaren couldn’t resist letting Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have a go at the “XP Beta phase” prototypes of the MP4-12C, although testing road cars isn’t part of their official job scope.
The two British champs tried out XP8 and XP10 at Goodwood Motor Circuit earlier this month. Being self confessed ‘petrolheads’ and having seen the 12C at the McLaren Technology Centre in February, they were keen to get behind the wheel and share some views. Their time on the tight and fast circuit in southern England returned feedback on the 12C’s launch control, Brake-Steer application and threshold levels of the electronic stability control programmes, as well as driver comfort at speed.
Good comments are expected from the two well-paid employees, but we believe that the MP4-12C is truly a cracking car to drive coming from the people who brought us the McLaren F1. Read what Jenson and Lewis have to say after the jump. Images and video of the MP4-12C are available here.
Jenson Button commented, “The 12C is so easy to drive. Its cockpit is a nice place to be and really makes you feel at one with the car. The driving seat is very comfortable and the layout of the controls is completely logical. I like the fact that there’s no switchgear on the steering wheel. You simply select the mode you want before you begin driving and after that there’s no need to concentrate on anything but the driving itself.
“The car’s dynamic capability is fantastic at both high and low speeds. Within just a few seconds, I felt really comfortable with the car – and after only a couple of laps I was able to begin to push it hard through the corners. Yet, even though I was pushing, I was amazed by the car’s great stability at high speeds. It’s very quick in a straight line, too. In fact, the biggest problem with driving this car on a circuit is that sometimes you forget it’s a road car!”
Lewis Hamilton said, “The 12C is a real driver’s car; it delivered on all my expectations. The visibility is great from the driver’s seat. You really appreciate that in tight corners. I loved the McLaren F1 when I drove it and, like that car, the huge front windscreen of the 12C allows you to take in all the information needed for perfect lines through apex turns.
“It was clear when meeting the Automotive test team that they share the same competitive focus as our race team. We’re obsessed with winning and we’ll do all we can to make sure that happens. If the 12C team say they are aiming to make the best performance car on the market, then I’m convinced that is what they will do.”