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First Look: McLaren MP4-12C

F1 maker taking on Porsche Lamborghini and Ferrari,

by on Mar.19, 2010

A Formula One car in virtually everything but design, claims McLaren about the new MP4-12C, which will reach production early in 2011.

Best known for its Formula One race cars, the British maker McLaren aims to take on long-time rivals like Ferrari and Porsche, but this time on the street with the track-tuned MP4-12C sports car, which will start at nearly $200,000.

McLaren, which recently was embroiled in scandal on the F1 circuit, is entering the luxury car market at a challenging moment, analysts caution, noting that the ongoing global recession has triggered an auto sales slump that has been particularly hard on the luxury segment.  But Ron Dennis, the Chairman of McLaren Automotive, insists it’s a perfect time to launch the MP4-12C.

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“Following any recession, there’s a resurgence,” Dennis stressed, during a news conference announcing the new venture, and, “We intend to catch that wave.”

The 12C will borrow heavily from McLaren’s F1 technology.  Both Jensen Button, previously an F1 world champion, and McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton have been test-driving the new sports car for the British maker.