As things become measurable, the 12C starts to dominate. The 3.3sec 0-60mph time we recorded is pretty impressive, given that it equals the time we set in the dry for the Ferrari 458, but was recorded on a showery day with traction at a premium.

By 100mph under full acceleration the 12C’s 616bhp really asserts itself, allowing it to post a time of 6.7sec. It will cover the standing quarter mile in 11.1sec (with a terminal speed 131.5mph) and the standing kilometre in 20sec dead.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
There’s noticeable turbo lag on a circuit, though you’d be hard pushed to detect it on the road

In short, the 12C is ferociously, apocalyptically quick. The minutiae will keep statisticians at it for a month, but basically, little else with four wheels, a windscreen and number plates will keep up with a 12C on full chat.

The quality of the McLaren’s noise is also impressive. At idle it makes a relatively purposeful burble and its turbos mean performance is strong even from very low revs, although it is naturally fastest towards its 8500rpm cut-off.

To say it ever bogs down would be an overstatement, but big normally aspirated engines such as Mercedes SLS’s 6.3-litre V8 are initially a little quicker to respond. Once over, say, 4000rpm, the needle truly flies around the tacho dial.

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the McLaren range

Driven this week

  • Maserati Levante S GranLusso 2019 road test review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    Car review
    Is this Ferrari-engined Levante the performance SUV it always should have...
  • Bentley Continental GT Convertible 2019 UK first drive review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    First Drive
    New Conti Convertible has all the many advantages of a new platform, seen...
  • Audi SQ5 2019 first drive review - hero front
    22 May 2019
    First Drive
    High-performance soft-roader adopts new sporty V6 diesel mild-hybrid power,...

On a circuit there can be some turbo lag if you’re caught a gear too high, but you’d be hard pushed to detect it much on the road. The seven-speed transmission always shifts cleanly and smoothly although downshifts are not quite as whip-crack responsive as in a 458 Italia.

Left to its own devices in auto mode, the transmission will change into seventh at around 1000rpm, where the engine stays smooth even if it lacks responsiveness. Predictably, this is the mode in which CO2 emissions of just 279g/km are recorded.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the McLaren range

Driven this week

  • Maserati Levante S GranLusso 2019 road test review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    Car review
    Is this Ferrari-engined Levante the performance SUV it always should have...
  • Bentley Continental GT Convertible 2019 UK first drive review - hero front
    24 May 2019
    First Drive
    New Conti Convertible has all the many advantages of a new platform, seen...
  • Audi SQ5 2019 first drive review - hero front
    22 May 2019
    First Drive
    High-performance soft-roader adopts new sporty V6 diesel mild-hybrid power,...