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McLaren takes aim at Ferrari and Lamborghini with 200mph British supercar dubbed 'an F1 car for the road'

A gull-winged 200mph British supercar dubbed 'an F1 car for the road' launched by UK racing specialists McLaren.

The £150,000 McLaren MP4-12C is Britain's answer to Italy's legendary Ferrari and is the long-held dream of McLaren and F1 team boss Ron Dennis to produce an 'affordable' supercar with the greenest credentials in its class.

With dramatic aerodynamic styling designed to keep it on the ground at high speed, the new McLaren two-seater will accelerate from rest to 60mph in just 3.4 seconds.

It is powered by a massive 3.8 litre V8 twin turbo engine which develops 600bhp - equivalent to about six Ford Fiestas. McLaren claims it is the world's most efficient internal combustion engine and the pinnacle of British hi-tech engineering.

The new McLaren, which goes on sale in 2011, is being built at the company's hi-tech factory in Woking Surrey, where the workforce is expected to expand from 500 to around 800 as production gets underway.

About 1,000 cars will be built in the first year. But the MP4 is just the first of a new range of sports cars that will see production increased to 4,000 a year within about three years.

The new McLaren uses lightweight aluminium and carbon fibre to keep weight down and performance high.

Average fuel consumption is expected to be around 22mpg but emissions of carbon dioxide - the so-called greenhouse gas blamed for global warming - will be below 300g/km.

As you would expect from a company that has been at the pinnacle of Grand Prix racing, the new road car includes many hi-tech spin-offs from the world of F1.

That includes seven speed F1-style paddle-shift with intuitive gears - dubbed 'pre-cog' for pre-cognition. The so-called 'seamless-shift gearbox' system pre-selects the gear before you shift to it.

The aerodynamic styling and flat underside creates massive downforce to give great roadholding and prevent car from taking off like an aircraft.

The driver and passenger are protected inside a strong but superlight carbon fibre mono-cell or 'tub' as used in F1 cars. The whole structure weighs just 81 kg - about the weight as an average man.

Giant side air scoops are designed to cool engine and powerful brakes. The hi-tech fabric in the bucket seats 'breathes' to help driver and passenger stay comfortable. Buttons and dials are kept simple and to a minimum, and there is a seven inch dashboard touchscreen.

For life out on the open road, the new car also has parking sensors, cruise control, and optional sat-nav.

Lifting the gull-wing upwards and forwards is designed to help driver and passenger get in and out more easily - especially in tighter parking spots. A spokesman said:'In traditional door systems, a larger parking space is necessary to permit the doors to open wide enough.'

The new McLaren aims to take on key rivals including the brand new Ferrari 458, Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche 911 Turbo, Bentley Continental GT, Aston Martin DB9.

The new McLaren resembles the company's iconic 1990s' supercar, the 240mph F1, which was the world's fastest production car until Bugatti's 250mph Veyron

McLaren Automotive chairman Ron Dennis said:'It is a long-held dream of mine to launch a range of high performance sports cars that set new standards in the industry. I am confident that now is the right time for McLaren Automotive to become a full-line high performance sports car manufacturer.'

Mr Dennis said:'This is the start of an exciting new chapter in McLaren's history, in British high technology engineering and manufacturing, and in global sports car design. We aim to be the best.'

McLaren managing director Antony Sheriff said: 'By the time the 12C is launched in 2011, we expect the economic conditions to be much improved. We have already seen significant interest in the car.'

McLaren's first spectacular venture into road car production was back in 1993 with the 'F1', which for many years was the fastest car in the world. More recently it worked in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz to make the SLR-McLaren. But with the MP4, McLaren is again going it alone.

Vital statistics: McLaren MP4 12C
Length: 14ft
Width:6ft 1 inch
Height: 3ft 10 ins (with gull-wing doors closed)
Height: 5ft (with gull-wing doors open)

source: dailymail

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