“Snap” gives us an impressive long distance drive of the McLaren MP4-12C super car, complete with distaste of Josh’s ‘I M STIG’ personalized license plate.

I’m Billy “Snap” MacGillicuty and McLaren desperately seeks my opinion on everything it does before it does it. But I’m both clever and lazy. I told them I’d be writing this for RawAutos because I have sympathy for Josh Lewis’ bad taste in personalized license plates for his personal car.

And Macca bit! Took the bait hook, line, and sinker. Ron Dennis himself told me how sorry he feels for “Mr. Lewis’ critical bad taste condition”. Awesome.

But I’m not writing all this; writing well takes too much time and I just like to drive the cars and bed the local women. (Having a McLaren for over 1,000 miles through France really helps, men.) I’ve just robbed what my fellow reporter Matt Davis from Autoblog wrote because he apparently has no time for sex with females and would prefer spending all his time sitting at a PC and actually doing his job. What an idiot. Hell, Davis said “yeah, go ahead” when I asked him if I could run it. What a bonehead. (I only use the term ‘bonehead’ for the most awesome bald guys.)

So, from here on it’s all Matt….

Since the very first viewings and tech workshops in early 2010 of the McLaren MP4-12C, I’d been asking my contacts out of Woking in England for a cross-country drive in the innovative supercar. We’re still talking about a possible New York to Los Angeles run, but while waiting on that I was recently offered a 1,000-mile-plus dash from McLaren headquarters outside of London south to Monaco, traversing all of France to experience all types of paved road over three days. This would be the first official long distance drive organized by McLaren for the car. I accepted.

When first talked about in concrete terms to the outside world in 2009, the McLaren MP4-12C was billed not just as a holy terror performance car, but as a comfortable premium motoring experience more than capable of a London-to-Monaco run. I doubted this right from the start, but then the initial prototype drives got me thinking that maybe the claim was genuine. The 592-horsepower 12C tears it up at the track as well as any special sports car, but it really can be set up to cruise pleasantly.

The first leg of this trip took me from Woking southwest of London, through the Eurotunnel under the English Channel on the Eurostar train, and on to an overnight just west of the town of Reims in the heart of champagne country. (The bubbles go right to my nose, tee-hee.)


After a thorough visit to the newly christened $65-million McLaren Production Centre [see video], Day One of the magical McLaren mega-tour included pretty dull roads for the most part. But having weathered it, now I found myself and my Volcano Red painted $245,000-as-tested 12C poised for two long additional days of far more exciting roads.

What was best tested on this first section, however, was the cruising capabilities of the 12C over British motorway and French autoroute, frequently with American-style expansion strips trying to dog me with their incessant rhythm.

And the McLaren boast of the car’s ability to tackle the mundane with true comfort and relative peace is true. I just had the powertrain dial set to Sport and the ProActive Chassis Control dial to Normal pretty much all day long. I’m not saying this because McLaren handed me one of their cars and paid my way either; the everyday usability of owning a 12C is real, certainly better than with any other similarly configured car at the very least.

In England there was – what are the chances? – major amounts of rain, too, and the 12C showed how its interesting chassis dynamics based in part on outlawed Formula 1 technology from the 1990s make it damned near unflappable in such poor conditions that typically keep supercars huddled in the garage.

See the video we built for Day One of all this. Stay tuned for days two and three – it gets interesting.

McLaren MP4-12C text – Billy “Snap” MacGillicuty/photos – Patrick Gosling & Billy “Snap” MacGillicuty