While that would be cool, cars like these are usually only driven in the day, rarely at night. One reason being, they look better in daylight, the other because they have less visibility and illumination, making them more hazardous in the dark.
Yesterday we put about 200mi on the 12C, because I was finally feeling better and needed to get out for a little while. The car is something else. On the softest settings, it rides like a Bentley, handles like a Merc S-class, and sips fuel like an Accord. If you turn off the sport exhaust and keep the revs below 6000, it makes as much noise as the Bentley too. It's staggering, really. Comfort, luxury features, fuel economy ~24MPG), and amazing controls (the throttle is perfectly
progressive). It's smallish, so you maneuver in traffic well, and in auto mode the transmission shifts so fluidly you can't even feel it. Yep, if you weren't looking right at the orange McLaren "swoosh" on the wheel, you'd think you were driving a Merc S600. All the system toys work, even the voice stuff, and they don't just
work, they anticipate that you want them and work the first time
, which is something that even Mercedes can't seem to get right. Stereo? Very fine as well, easily one of the better factory systems I've heard. Any faults as a daily driver? Sure, if you bury your foot in the go-fast pedal you'll be doing 100mph faster than you can say "is there a problem, officer?" but as long as you aren't a complete idiot, it isn't an issue. It's a turbo (twin-turbo) but doesn't feel like it, there's no appreciable lag that I can sense. Mine has the steel brake rotors instead of CF, but they stop the car so effectively I can't see how the (much) more expensive option could be better. I suppose if I lived at the track and worked it out all the time, they'd be a good investment from a durability standpoint, but otherwise there's no need. So... faults? Not really.
I want to interject some points about fit and finish, because in this car it's amazing. Everything looks and feels uncompromised. There's no gaudy, over-the-top bling. Sure, the materials are top notch, lots of carbon fiber, but it all has purpose and its form follows its function. Even down to something like the stitching in the leather and Alcantara (a synthetic suede), it's better than millimeter perfect. In non-car terms, it's exactly like a premier Swiss watch, nothing on this car feels "wrong" or ill-conceived. It's hard to tell from pictures, but I can try. In a way, it makes the 458 almost... shabby. Then there's the space, there's a good deal of it, both in the cabin and in storage. Leaps and bounds better than any other car of its type.
Back to driving. So, it putters around town as well as any luxury sedan or econobox, but what happens when you turn it up a notch? Well, it's a lot easier making a fast car go fast, and this one's fast... and howdy. Switching up to Sport stiffens the suspension, but not so much that it becomes too hard, also throttle response improves by ~ a factor of 4. Then there's exhaust note, a beautiful throaty baritone, and auto shifting can be turned off, meaning it is all controlled via the paddles. I'm sure there's a lot of other things that change too, everything becomes much more urgent and alive, almost like it connects telepathically. It's damned uncanny. The stability control system is unreal, shifting and balancing continuously via the hydraulic suspension, the same that gives such a supple ride in normal mode. It's like a gyroscope, acting and reacting faster than you can sense, oftentimes covering up for some... uhh... questionable entries into curves.
It effectively eliminates understeer, which is a shocking feat in an RMR design. Frankly, after the first couple minutes you don't even notice the effect anymore, it's just an extension of you. I wish I could say the same about the traction control, however it's much too obtrusive when you're out having fun. You can easily feel it "playing God" and it gets annoying (almost feels like AWD). The great news is, though, you can turn that sucker off, and if you aren't just going A>B (I can see its value in bad weather or city driving) that's a must.
Track mode is the car dialed up to 11, the connection to it transforms into something symbiotic in nature. Shifts are instant, power is instant, the sound becomes a baritone and tenor duet, with the wastegates adding a percussion. The whole car takes on the tension of piano wire, which coincidentally is too stiff for daily driving, but it IS
track mode, so that's where you should probably be when you turn it on.
However, setting it to the middle for the chassis and the max for everything else (with TC off) dials in a perfect combo when you're "up to no good". You can even lower the glass partition behind your head to let in even more of the sound, filling the cabin with the Wagnerian soundtrack. Oooooo.... Thunderbolts and lightning! 620BHP, 8500RPM redlines, and Jekyll & Hyde personalities that are mix-and-matchable by variable degrees? It drives so well and is so unbelievably quick, you really can't ask for more. It's the perfect sports car.
Or is it? Here's the cold, wet blanket. Do you want your supercar to be this accurate, and dare I say it, clinical? I really get what reviewers have been saying about the MP4-12C, though as usual they go a little overboard. Do we love such cars because
of their flaws, not in spite of them? Should such a beast, and it truly is one, be so manageable? Is it too refined? I'm wrestling with that and I'm not sure if I have an answer yet. One thing is
certain, however, it's an engineering marvel, and can stir your pulse as well as any car from Maranello.