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2011 McLaren MP4-12C

With McLaren Automotive and Mercedes-Benz having pretty much dissolved the ties that led to their creation of the 2005–09 Mercedes SLR McLaren, the Woking, U.K.-based company is planning to reinvigorate itself with a range of new mid-engine supercars. And after teasing us for months with camouflaged test mules and tight lips, McLaren had our full attention when it released an encyclopedia’s worth of details for the first model in the series, the 2011 McLaren MP4-12C, ahead of its debut at the Frankfurt auto show later this month.

In stark contrast to the powerful yet luxurious SLR, the MP4-12C will be what McLaren describes as a transfer of technology from its Formula 1 racing programs combined with lessons learned from the production of the legendary 1993 McLaren F1 road car. In other words: focused, high-tech, and lightweight. Referred to throughout its development as the P11, the MP4-12C production moniker is unromantic but does mean something. The “MP4” has been used to designate the chassis of every McLaren Formula 1 car since 1981, while the “12” is the car’s “performance index” within the company that is used to aggregate a vehicle’s balance of power, weight, emissions, and aerodynamics.