So thanks to a recent Top Gear, my burning automotive passion has been ignited once again on a completely irrelevant (to the normal car guy) yet interesting (to the normal car guy) question: If some magical-mystical force said you could only have ONE car, which would it be?
Awhile ago when all the info on the brand new McLaren came to light, I was tempted by the McLarens mind-blowing-ness. Now though, after sitting here and thinking about it for the past couple of weeks after the Top Gear review aired (and yes, I have no life apparently), is my opinion on the MP4-12C any different?
In a word, yes and no. Okay that’s three words but whatever. From all I’ve read and seen about the 12C, it should be the ultimate car for what I want in a car and how I want a car to feel. Precise, balanced, quick, razor-sharp. A laser-edged sword that does the job of going fast better than almost anything on the road. I used to think I preferred loud shouty cars. Ask me this question two years ago and I would have said: “neither, I’ll take a Lamborghini Gallardo thanks”. However, being introduced to the Sunday sport of Autocross has changed my perspective. I now want a car that’s poised, precise, and balanced. Something that handles speed with the clinical emotionlessness of an expert assassin.
I’m sorry, I’m waxing lyrical a bit too much here, but you get the point. The McLaren MP4-12C should be my new ultimate dream car. A car built for outright speed on the track, a tool designed to work with a driver of any skill level. Something even the most ham-fisted, dumb-witted (i.e. ME) driver can blast around a track with relative ease. Logic dictates that this personal battle for my car-soul should be a walk-over in favor of the McLaren…
…but of course it isn’t. For some strange reason, I much prefer the Ferrari here. Sure, in almost every statistical factor the 12C is probably superior. And I will not for one second sit here and say that the McLaren is boring. I still think it is one of the most stunning things on sale today. Probably just as good-looking as the Gallardo. No really. But the 458, I don’t know, there’s just something about it. It’s like that type of girl that looks normal and mundane at first glance, but spend sometime looking at her (and trying not to look like a perv) and you realize she’s actually one of the most beautiful women you’ve ever seen. That’s exactly the way I see the 458. It’s not a drop-dead gorgeous pin-up model Ferraris of old were. But it isn’t trying to be either, and perhaps that why I find it so attractive.
And then we get to the noise. Oh god, the NOISE! I know a lot of you are all hum-dum about the way Ferrari exhausts are acoustically tuned too much. But COME ON! If you can hand-on-heart sit there and tell me the Ferrari sounds horrible because it sounds fake, then well…….what does it matter you can’t right? If I owned one, I’d probably spend half a tank of gas just sitting there revving the engine in my garage daily. Everyone who likes cars can agree that it’s a glorious sound that comes from the triple tailpipes. End.
I know it’s hard for me to justify my choice when I’ve never driven either. They say that most of the passion and soul, yes those ol’ clichés used to describe many a Ferrari of yore, comes out in the way the 458 drives. How can I call the Ferrari more soulful than the McLaren without driving either?
Read, watch, and listen to all there is to see and hear about the 458. That inherent Italian passion just exudes from this car no matter what it’s doing. Even a crappy 360p YouTube video still makes my skin tingle. Makes me want to drive one before I die. It makes me feel happy. The McLaren doesn’t do that. I’m sure if I were to actually drive the 12C my opinion would probably change. But right now here in front of this computer screen, I’d choose the 458 Italia. It’s the car that keeps me up at night.
Now of course, if you OWN either car and would like the chance to help me either change or validate my opinion, I will humbly accept your offer to let me drive either. Purely for the purpose of automotive opinion of course!