McLaren’s Customer Service Goes Into Overdrive By Promising A Loaner Engine For F1 Owners
McLaren’s customer service is already regarded as one of the best in the business, so this news comes as no big surprise. The British automaker is giving owners of the McLaren F1 the opportunity to have the original BMW-sourced, 6.1-liter V-12 engine fully serviced, yet still have use of the car. How does McLaren do this? Two words: loaner engines.
The whole concept follows McLaren’s reputation for having one of the best full factory support services among all premium automakers in the world. While it’s not impossible for automakers to put in loaner engines on cars that allow them to be driven, it’s unheard of when you consider that the car in question is the McLaren F1. The F1 is largely considered as one of the finest supercars ever developed, despite already being 25 years old. The news came from a Road & Track report indicating McLaren’s MSO division does offer the temporary engine swap, allowing owners of the F1 to continue driving their cars even if the car’s original engine is being repaired or rebuilt at MSO’s factory. Whether owners actually drive their F1s with the loaner engine installed is a separate issue entirely. Some might opt to not risk any potential issues incurred by having a loaner engine in place. Remember, despite the assurance that McLaren still has plenty of original parts and upgrades for the F1, a simple knock or issue on the supercar could spiral into a messy financial black hole for the owner. Maintenance costs run ridiculously high with the F1 and the risk of issues arising is a cause for concern.
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Although you probably won’t get these products in time for the holidays - or maybe you can with expedited shipping - McLaren’s recently launched eStore has come out with a range of new products that make for some pretty sweet Christmas gifts.
There are a multitude of accessories, including carbon fiber luggages, a leather wallet and card holder that have been finished in carbon fibre weave-effect leather with McLaren orange stitching, and yes, even key chains, gloves, clothing, caps, and jackets.
But the unquestioned highlight of the new line is the Tag Heuer Carrera MP4-12C Chronograph, a collaborative effort between long-standing partners McLaren and Tag Heuer. The special edition timepiece will be limited to only 1,000 pieces and takes direct inspiration from the high performance 12C sports car after which it is named.
The new Chronograph reflects the new sports car in colour, materials and design. The watch’s dials are made in carbon fiber and were inspired by the MP4-12C’s carbon fiber chassis, while the sapphire crystal inserts reveal the movement behind the watch face.
Of course this exclusive watch comes with a huge price: £8950 - or about $14,500 at the current exchange rates.
The Windsor Castle Concours d’Elegance is an event sponsored by Bentley that no one really pays much attention to. In fact, it just took place on September 7th-9th and there wasn’t that much buzz about it at all. That being said, it looks like the show brought together some of the most impressive supercars currently available on the market.
One of these supercars is a McLaren MP4-12C, but it was no standard McLaren. This was a "special" MP4-12C that received a nose job from McLaren’s Special Operations division. Apparently, a number of clients were asking for more aggressive styling and so the company decided to give them what they were asking for.
The new nose was inspired by the exclusive High Sport version and includes a new color-coded front bumper made of carbon fiber with a carbon-Kevlar lower lip. McLaren also added revised vents and aerodynamic elements to replace the tire spoilers on the stock unit.
These new elements can either be ordered from the factory or installed on the already existing models upon the customer’s request. Price? Hasn’t even been announced yet.
We mentioned a few months ago about how advancements in turbocharging is starting to render V-8 and larger engines obsolete. As much as readers may not have wanted to hear that, it is true. For additional confirmation, we now have supercar builder, McLaren, in our corner.
In a recent interview with De Telegraaf’s Autovisie, McLaren managing director, Antony Sheriff, was quoted saying that “the V-12 engine is a thing of the past” and “the engine belongs in a museum.” Just as we pointed out, Sheriff claims that a boosted V-8 can pump out the same horsepower and more torque than a naturally aspirated V-12, plus it is lighter, less complex, and boasts better fuel economy.
Sheriff went on to further solidify our stance, as he explains that turbocharged V-6 engines may have a place in the supercar world as replacements for naturally aspirated V-8 engines. Granted, this is only the opinion of one automaker and it is not one of the big-three supercar builders – Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Porsche – so it doesn’t mean the V-12, V-10, and V-8 engines are going away just yet.
Having said that, we still hold firm in our belief that, in the next decade, the V-12 and V-10 engines will not be able to survive in a world of $5-per-gallon gasoline. Inside of this time period, smaller displacement engines and electric motors will replace these large, fuel-hungry engines. For now, we at least know that McLaren is on-board with the much-needed changeover.
McLaren has continually stated that it will stop at nothing in order to turn the MP4-12C into the world’s greatest junior supercar, and as we know from past experiences from the legendary F1, perfection in McLaren’s eyes is just around the corner and development will not end until it is reached.
In line with this popular statement, or motto, McLaren has revealed that all early MP4-12C owners are now being offered a free power upgrade to help bump the supercar into what McLaren hopes will be its very own league. This bump will be well above all rival cars, including the Ferrari 458 Italia and the recently launched Porsche 911/991.
Power is said to be increased by 25HP, lifting the car’s overall output to 625 horsepower which is around 50HP more than the top-of-the-line 458 Italia, meaning Ferrari better be planning something special with its upcoming 458 Scuderia. It’s unclear if any torque gains have been achieved through the simple remapping of the engine’s computer system, but we this is the case.
In addition to this relatively large change in power, McLaren is also said to be offering remote passenger door opening to try and get around the MP4-12C’s notoriously difficult to open doors, while a programmable engine note and a few tweaks to the high-end Meridian sound system will also be conducted free of charge.
All of the aforementioned changes should be fitted to cars by October 2012, before McLaren finishes its upgrades on the new IRIS navigation system which we suspect will also be fitted to all 12C’s once the British marque has perfected every last component of the system.
McLaren began its research for the MP4-12C back in 2005 with a little something called “Project 11.” This project consisted of the most advanced simulation software in the world and was used to test the future car’s ability at any track and any conditions. It’s been six years, and many grueling tests and revisions, later and it seems as if the MP4-12C is still not 100% up to the task. A McLaren spokesman has announced that the first units of the supercar to be delivered will feature additional revisions in response to the critique the supercar has received from the press.
After initial press test drives, many journalists placed the McLaren supercar below Ferrari’s latest toy, the 458 Italia because "it lacked the aural drama and sense of occasion to match its pace and dynamic ability." With the hard work and dedication already put into the MP4-12C, McLaren felt it necessary to tweak the supercar before it was delivered to its high-paying customers. Modifications such as an improved throttle response and a "fruitier" exhaust note were applied and will take effect only in Track mode. McLaren also said that these modifications were already planned, but the press criticism made the company hightail the changes before the vehicles were delivered.
"We want drivers to enjoy the car a bit more," a McLaren spokesman said. "The changes don’t lead to any performance increase, but they do lead to an emotional increase when you drive the car. It was a bit too sensible before. You won’t notice the changes in normal mode, just when you’re really having fun and pushing it."
Despite its gaudy price tag, we can’t say that the McLaren MP4-12C doesn’t come with some pretty high-end materials, one of which, as a matter of fact, are carbon monocoques.
We’ve just learned that McLaren has placed a massive order of carbon monocoques, which the company says, will be used for their new flagship supercar. The order was placed to Carbo Tech, a Salzburg-based company that specializes in producing the said lightweight material that is most commonly-used in aircrafts.
McLaren’s order - the overall price tag is believed to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 million euro or about $182.4 million - will also be a big boon for Carbo Tech. Because of the order, and the overall increase in demand for carbon monocoques, Carbo Tech will be opening a new factory in Salzburg and is also expected to ramp up on their manpower to be able to keep up with the increase of interest for the product.
For it’s part, McLaren will begin using carbon monocoques simply because, at a weight of only 80 kilograms, it’s light enough to reduce CO2 emissions while meeting current crash test legislations at the same time. In a statement, the Woking-based automaker said, "Carbon monocoques are particularly light and thus reduce the CO2 emissions of the vehicles while at the same time offering improved strength, structural rigidity and engineering predictability, resulting in better driving dynamics."
By the same token, Carbo Tech is excited about the prospect of supplying their top-grade product to such a distinctive and high-profile brand like McLaren. "The deal with McLaren will allow us to rapidly develop these unique monocoques," said Karl Wagner, Carbo Tech’s CEO. "Over time, we are expecting to develop the technology to build monocoques that are significantly reduced in cost over similar structures previously manufactured."