Battle of the spiders: Ferrari vs McLaren
Which V8 drop-top supercar is best? 458 or 12C? Time for a road trip...
Posted: 24 Jun 2013
The McLaren's V8 is smaller in capacity, but makes up for its lack of displacement with the addition of a pair of turbos. And make up the deficit it does, by some margin. Now producing 616bhp - 50-odd bhp more than the 458 - the 12C also manages the kind of torque figures that only forced-induction engines can provide. With 600lb ft at its disposal from 3,000rpm to 7,000rpm, the 12C leaves the 458 with very few places to hide in terms of raw grunt.
The trade-off comes with the delivery. And noise. Those turbos might make the 12C's mid-range an avalanche rather than the 458's surge, but they also take time to muster, and you'll have to wait until past 3,000rpm until you can feel the force. And at full throttle, the 12C makes a very raw, race-car sound - all white noise and rapid expansion. It's definitely louder and more evocative than the early coupes, but tends towards the effective rather than the soulful. And there's a whole orchestra of other noises involved in the 12C opera: a cymbal crash as the wastegate clears when changing hard, or roll off the throttle gently to make the same dump valves coo in an oddly metallic way, like stepping on a robot pigeon.