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 Ferrari is also more nervy in certain situations, easier to upset, especially under braking over bumps. This makes it more lively than the eerily stable 12C, but whether that's a plus or a minus is probably down to personal taste. After all, at the kind of speeds you're making these cars feel ‘nervy', you're also looking at turning yourself into a molecule-width roadside appliqué should you misjudge. The truth is that the 12C's inherent stability is the characteristic that makes it such a weapon, but also makes it feel slightly - just a little bit - aloof. Run a decent set of bumps, of which there are many on the roads around here, and the way the little McLaren taps lightly from one to the other is borderline witchcraft.
A dancer's gait. Not quite a Lotus Evora level of chassis balance over rough stuff, but not far off. Obviously there's a suite of cleverness helping the 12C retain its startling poise, from hydraulically interconnected active damping to control all sorts of wayward factors like roll, pitch, heave and squat - which sounds like a set of prison-yard exercises, but isn't. Barrel awkwardly into a corner and hit the brakes a bit too hard, and nothing really happens - which is a massive compliment. The 12C just flips up its airbrake, sits back and levels off. It's actually quite natural-feeling, but odd at the same time, the expected transfer of weight and balance never quite changing as much as you expect. That airbrake adds around 80kg of drag when fully deployed, balancing the 12C front-to-back as you brake hard and the car starts to tip onto its nose. As you turn, the hydraulically linked dampers control roll and pitch, aided by Brake Steer, which gradually retards the inside rear wheel in line with the steering angle. What it means is that the 12C dares you into faster and faster entry and exit speeds, building your confidence. It works. You'll end up with the kind of pace that's restricted by sightlines and imagination rather than engineering.