Top Gear Unveils McLaren MP4-12C Spider

McLaren Spider MP4-12C

Attention all you high performance enthusiasts and exotic car aficionados, here’s a chance to evaluate the new 2012 McLaren MP4-12C Spider. This is particularly exciting given the number of these cars in the United States. By the time you're done with this, you'll be calling transport companies for bids on importing one of these.

Unveiling the New Model

Just over a year ago Ron Dennis of McLaren replaced the F1 with the newly designed MP4-12C. Sales had increased to over 1,000 units worldwide. Now Dennis has included a hardtop convertible dubbed the “Spider.”

Jeremey Clarkson of Top Gear was on hand in Geneva for the unveiling. Immediately it becomes evident that this car is the ultimate in eye candy. The aesthetics are such that it generates an “I have to have that” response right out of the box.

The car appears to sit low, but the 20-inch wheels fit perfectly high in the body giving the car ample ground clearance. It has huge intake vents just forward of the rear wheels which are functional because the engine uses two radiators — one on each side of the car.

A retractable spoiler adorns the rear hatch and forward of that is a killer-looking glass engine cover exposing the engine and turbo runners. It looks amazing with the Lambo doors open. And those are just a few of the high points — wait until you see the interior.

Going Inside

The interior is space-aged with a custom dash and console unlike any other car. A horseshoe-shaped panel runs vertically from the console up and around the steering wheel and down the door panel narrowing as it drops down. This contains the air vents on both sides at the top and all the switches as it continues down. Right away you will notice something missing — the gearshift. The MP4-12C has a 7-speed transmission with paddle shifters only. The color combinations accentuate the interior perfectly and the quality of the seats and panels are top notch.

What It Can Do

Now things are getting really interesting. The part that makes this dog hunt is a mid-engine 3.8-liter V8 with double overhead cams, port fuel injection and twin turbochargers. It produces an amazing 592 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 443 pounds feet of torque. This was confirmed with a dyno test done by Straight Line.

Considering the size of the engine, it is quite an achievement. Anyone who builds racecars knows that all conventional engines have a fixed camshaft. The camshaft must be installed for either low-end torque or high rpm power. It requires a tradeoff. McLaren uses variable camshaft timing, however, to avoid trading anything. The camshafts run at low rpm to build torque. As the engine revs, a mechanism advances the camshaft to increase air and fuel flow.

The engine is also has a dry sump type oiling system. The oil is not contained in an oil pan but in an external oil tank. This allows the engine to sit lower in the cradle, effectively lowering the center of gravity. The MP4-12C goes from 0 to 60 in 3.1 seconds and back to 0 in a mere 100 feet. Top speed on the Spider is 204 mph, 3 mph slower than the hard top due to the weight. And good thing too – you can't get them everywhere, so if you're not going to use car transport companies, speeds like that will make your drive across the United States a lot more efficient.

Watch Top Gear's Jeremey Clarkson’s amazing video as he pits the McLaren MP4-12C against the Ferrari 458 in a road course. As you can see in the Top Gear segment the McLaren out-handles the Ferrari 458 in the tight course due to its computer-controlled stabilization.

If you purchase a McLaren be sure to use car transport companies that specialize in hauling exotic cars. The McLaren MP4-12C is a car that competes well with the highest profile exotic cars today, and is readily recognizable as the exotic that it is.

Top Gear UK vs. Top Gear USA: Which Top Gear is Better?

top gear
Top Gear

If you love cars as much as I do, you inevitably love Top Gear. If you don't know what Top Gear is, I can sum up the the TV show for you like this, “The greatest thing EVER!”

Top Gear shows you what happens when you let loose three crazed automotive journalists and give them an unlimited budget to do what they want with cars. The three hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond get into wacky situations during each episode. They engage in antics such as driving to the North Pole, crossing the English Channel in homemade amphibious vehicles, and trying to prove British Leyland built good cars, just a few situations the three hosts get into during an episode. Top Gear goes boldly where no other TV show goes. It also answers the question of what every man would do if he could remain a kid forever.

Top Gear UK is an immensely popular TV show. I am not the only one who thinks so, as the original British Top Gear has an estimated global audience of 350 million people in 170 different countries every week.  (According to Wikipedia!) 

Americans like to copy good British TV shows. The Office, American Idol, Survivor, Big Brother, etc. were all British TV shows first. Now you can add Top Gear to that list. The History channel now broadcasts an American version of Top Gear with Rutledge Wood, Adam Ferrara, and Tanner Foust. Top Gear USA follows the same format as the original Top Gear, with the three hosts reviewing cars, getting into crazy situations, having celebrities on the show, etc.

The fact that Top Gear USA is still on TV probably makes diehard fans of the original British version groan with pain. The first time I watched an episode of Top Gear USA I didn't like it. This might be because the hosts are not nearly as witty and entertaining and majority of the segments seem to be carbon copies of the original.

Brits, it seems, are just better at making good TV than “Stupid Americans” as Europeans might call us. It makes we wonder if there will be an Americanized version of Downton Abbey. (At least we make great action movies with lots of explosions!)

I may have my own opinions about Top Gear USA. However, I'd like to hear from my readers on which you prefer.

I have compiled these videos for a heads-up challenge, Top Gear UK vs Top Gear USA. Which do you think is better? Watch the videos and decide for yourself. Leave a comment below and share your opinions.

TRAILER 

SKIERS VS. CAR

Top Gear USA – Mitsubishi Evo X by cjrobe0

VIDEO GAME VS. REAL TRACK

Top Gear -NSX @ Laguna Seca

CELEBRITY APPEARANCES

CAR REVIEW

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Top Gear Season 18 Trailer features usual explosions, adventures, and awesomeness

Top Gear, the wildly popular British car show, released the trailer for Season 18.  It shows all the latest mayhem the three hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond will be getting into in the new Top Gear season.

In Season 18 it looks like there will be some interesting and fun segments.  In typical Top Gear fashion there will be a supercar challenge which will feature a Lamborghini Aventador, McLaren MP4-12C and a Noble M600.  Richard Hammond will try his hand at racing in NASCAR.  (The way it looks in the video, he will actually be in the car in a real race.)  Yves “Jetman” Rossy will be featured in the series as well, with his incredible homemade and hand-built jetpack. Ray Winstone, the British actor, will be making an appearance.  The new season will take also take the hosts to China to test Chinese cars.  There is also going to be a Christmas special in India.

Season 18 should be everything that you expect from Top Gear, which is car craziness packed into 1 hour episodes.

If you didn't know already, Top Gear is my favorite show of all time!  Please share you thoughts about the Top Gear Season 18 below.

Top Gear America… Will it Work?

What do Survivor, American Idol, Big Brother, and The Office have in common? Well, like many popular American TV shows they are remakes of popular British TV shows. Now you can include Top Gear on that list.

Never heard of Top Gear? The BBC program happens to be one of the most popular TV shows on the planet. The irreverent, crazy, and wildly fun BBC series featuring Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond is shown in many countries around the world. The show follows these three friends who are crazy about cars. They go on car adventures, such as a race between a car and bobsled, a race between a climber and car, a race between a Bugatti Veyron and an airplane, a challenge to cross the English channel in homemade amphibious vehicles, a drive to the North Pole, etc. They do a segment called, “Stars in a Reasonably Priced Car,” where celebrities get into a Suzuki and race around a track, then have their times posted on a board against other celebrities. Sometimes they might even review a car.

Originally Jay Leno, who is a car nut, was approached to do the American show. He would have made an excellent host, but in his article in UK’s The Sunday Times entitled, “I hope we don’t ruin TopGear,” Leno discusses why many believe the American version will never work.

“I like the show just the way it is. Jeremy and the guys are extremely talented … I think it would be impossible to recreate or live up to the standards of the British show.

I don’t think you could be quite as freewheeling with your opinions as you can on the BBC, because sponsors pay for the programmes. Sponsors would be unlikely to embrace any criticism.” (March 30, 2008)

Leno is right. Will it be possible for sponsors to put up with criticism of their products and still advertise on the show? It’s telling that the show is airing on the History Channel. Originally the show was slated to go on NBC primetime. The History Channel is far from primetime.

The BBC version is an extremely fun show to watch, even for non-car people. It’s yet to be determined whether this new American version will be of the same caliber. Few sequels and remakes are. They have done remakes of the show in Germany, Russia, and Australia. The American version will be produced by BBC Worldwide so it will retain some of character of the original.

America is a car-obsessed culture, and we are highly dependent on our automobiles. The show could work well. Those other TV show remakes are still on the air (except the Russian version) and are quite popular. Maybe the producers will find what Americans audiences will like to see and will strike a chord, but it will be challenging.

The hosts will be professional driver Tanner Foust, comedian and actor Adam Ferrara, and racing analyst Rutledge Wood. The American Top Gear is going to be airing Sunday November 21st at 10/9C on the History Channel. Fortunately, I don't have cable.. so I can't watch and be disappointed.