Launched globally two years ago. Convertible Spider variant launched a year later, and believe it or not, the McLaren MP4-12C was never sold officially here in Malaysia. The only way to own one is through grey imports and with no official service centers (closest being the one in Singapore), it is not easy to properly maintain one either. It must be great news then, when McLaren announced three months ago that their 25th global market will be none other than our country, Malaysia!
We will still have to wait till October before the boutique showroom is ready, but McLaren very recently held a private preview of both the 12C coupe and 12C Spider to tantalize the taste buds of prospective (a.k.a loaded) customers. As the showroom is yet to be completed, this private preview took place at Image Rom Studio located in Sunway Damansara. So come and join me, as we find out how is it like attending this private preview reserved for the wealthy few…
As expected, these affluent guests came in suitably expensive ride. Aston Martin, Bentley, S-Class, you name it. The highlight though, is undoubtedly the ultra rare DMC tuned Lamborghini Aventador LP900-4 SV which is limited to only 10 units worldwide. With that completely bonkers carbon fiber front bumper, it looks as if it got jaws ready to devour any roadkill on the road. Fun fact: The car is also the very first unit out of the ten LP900-4 SV made!
Image Rom Studio is a specially built photo studio/event venue and is also not a particularly big structure. Factor in the renovations and furnishing for this preview event and the studio feels even less spacious, but then again you won’t need too much space when so little people will be attending. There are a couple of floors upstairs, but using them will cost extra to rent and the whole event will only require the first floor. Plus, who would want to climb stairs to see a supercar? Pfft…
Now before they reveal the car for us to see & touch, there was of course the usual introduction of the 12C. Explaining further about the key highlights of the car such as the spoiler/air brake etc. And then there was a movie-trailer-like short video (which you can watch below) showcasing the 12C with epic soundtracks to get the guests who were present all pumped up. And aptly so, the two huge projector screens rises up to reveal the star of the event. The McLaren MP4-12C coupe and spider!
Just like most of us gearheads, we’ve all seen photos and videos of the 12C in magazines and on the internet. And this might sound slightly cliché, but those photos and videos does the real car no justice. Sure it looks dull, if not boring on photos and videos. However, for some reasons it looks like a totally different car when seen in person and I meant that in the best possible way.
Four units of the 12C (two coupes & two spiders) were brought in to the country, but only two were on display for the preview due to limited space. Interesting thing to note is that all four units are base models with no additional options. I was told that the reason behind this is to present the 12C for what it is, in its purest original form without making it too fancy with larger wheels and carbon fiber everything.
The 12C coupe and spider displayed for the preview are in solid white and Volcano Orange respectively. Unsurprisingly, the solid white looks dull when compared with the metallic orange even under the perfect lighting this photo studio provides. Volcano Orange is one of McLaren’s many special paints which is absolutely stunning to look at especially under direct light. It has a depth to it and the orange hue can change from darker, almost bronze-like orange to light orange depending on the angle you are viewing.
It’s time to have a sit inside. I am not a supercar owner so obviously it felt really really low for me when I first got in, almost as if i’m sitting just inches above the ground which is probably the case in all supercars. I’m sure I can easily get used to the low seating position especially when the seats are pretty comfortable and supportive.
Headroom is surprisingly generous even as I try to sit up as straight as possible, and I still have inches to spare. Fit and finish is really impressive as well. I have never sat in the earlier pre-updated 12C but I was told there are significant improvements in build quality between the two and I don’t doubt it. The interior really does feel it could last forever.
Nowadays, even a modern hatchback gets more technologies and functions than a luxury sedan did a decade ago. Buttons and switches integrated into steering wheels are a thing of norm and not necessary for the best of reasons. It is therefore pleasantly refreshing to see that the 12C’s steering wheel have zero functions other than to steer the wheels. Zero distractions can only mean full concentration on the driving experience.
The center console is extremely compact and narrow by today’s standards. Even the infotainment screen is vertically shaped like a smartphone in order to make the center console as compact as possible to maximise interior room and minimise button count. The air-con switches are all located on the driver & passenger-side door which further contributes to the compact center console.
In fact, infotainment touch screen aside, the rest of the toggles and switches on the center console are all for car adjustments and nothing else. Engine start button, aero toggles, launch control button you name it. It is the sum of all these details which reminds the driver that the 12C is a purpose-built supercar for the road, meaning it should be just as comfortable to live with everyday. Reviewers globally all say that the 12C rides just as comfy as a luxury limo, but before I actually drive or ride in one, I shall keep my judgements for now.
Give me a choice and I will undoubtedly choose the spider over the coupe anytime thanks to the added versatility of the retractable hard-top roof. The fiberglass-reinforced plastic roof not only gives you the added security over a soft-top, but it still manages to retain the coupe’s sleek silhouette whilst maintaining a relatively low weight.
The roof can be operated at speeds below 30 kmh and takes only 17 seconds to complete the whole process. There was a live demonstration of the roof and it sure looked pretty quick to fold. Some revving of the 616hp, 3.8 liter twin-turbo engine from McLaren Kuala Lumpur’s sales manager is the icing on the cake. Check out the video I recorded below for some visual and aural pleasure!
At the end of the day, it was a great pleasure to have a proper look and feel of the 12C. It’s a real shame it was not possible to officially sell the car in the country earlier. The 12C is indeed an overlooked gem in the supercar scene clearly dominated by Italian Stallions and Bulls. Hopefully things will change when McLaren continues to expand their global market with the opening of Malaysia’s first McLaren boutique showroom next month. I heard there is a good chance that the flagship McLaren P1 hypercar will be there then! Stay tuned!