TopGear.com17 January 2012

New McLaren MP4-12C 'HS' spotted

The full story on the continuing evolution of the excellent McLaren…

A McLaren MP4-12C evolution? Sort of. Pics of this visually tweaked 12C have been doing the rounds for the last 24 hours, and although it’s not all some have claimed it to be, it is proof that McLaren’s road car biz has the same soul as the race team. Constant evolution is the name of the game. There is a lot more to come from the 12C, our 2011 Top Gear GT of the year.

The facts are these: this new car, badged HS for ‘High Sport’ (surely ‘EF-even faster’ would have been more appropriate) is one of five commissioned by a commercial partner of McLaren Automotive. Four of the cars are/will be sold by the Miami dealer, one in Marbella. And contrary to reports, Ron Dennis is not getting one.

The development is only visual, but ‘more than cosmetic’, hence the new-look nose and tail. McLaren are not saying there are no mechanical tweaks, but speculation that it’s a street version of the MP4-12C GT3 are way wide of the mark. The five cars were built to order by McLaren’s Special Vehicles Operations. These guys have been around since the days of the McLaren F1, and were also responsible for the special Mercedes-McLaren SLR derivatives the like 722 cars and the bonkers-but-beautiful ‘Moss’ edition.

Where is really gets exciting is when McLaren makes its clear the Spesh Ops team will do “anything” to an MP4-12C for customers willing to pay. Our conversation with McLaren’s spokesbloke went like this: “You mean like Ferrari specials division?” “Oh yes. And more. Unlike most Ferraris the structure of the 12C is all in the monocoque. You can do what you want – inside the law – with the exterior panels…”

Spesh Ops are already working on “two or three” other projects, so it’s going to be a busy year for McLaren Automotive and the MP4-12C. No less than 12 of the GT3 racers are set to see action in various sports cars series globally, and as anyone who saw the car in action at the Autosports International show in Birmingham last week will attest, that’s good news.

There will also be a Spider version of the 12C later in the year. It’s already been spotted testing its new folding hard-top which - due the deal Ferrari did with roofers Webasto – uses exactly the same system as the 12C’s nemesis: the Ferrari 458.

And then *pauses for breath* there will also be a road-going, totally hardcore version of the GT3. That might look a little bit like the car you see here, but will be very much faster.

There is no truth to the rumour McLaren will dub it the ‘FHS’.

Here’s a video the enterprising Jodito20 took on a visit to the Miami dealership and posted to youtube:

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