Amid all of the exciting auto news, exhibits, and shows, sometimes a good ol’ comparo is all you really need. With that in mind, let’s take a look at two of our most fiery exotic cars, the McLaren MP4-12c and the Ferrari 458 Italia. First and foremost, these are both machines that are some of the most purpose-built V8 supercars around, with their motors taking the spotlight (though their clothes sure aren’t hard to look at). You don’t always needs the fastest or most exclusive supercars to revel in the exotic car experience, but after taking part in the sensory indulgence that is the 458 Italia and MP4-12c, you realize what many of your counterparts are missing. The McLaren is one of our most recent additions to our paddock of California exotic car rentals, so let’s take a look at her first.
One of the McLaren’s key attributes is also a main difference between these two cars; it uses forced induction through a pair of turbos. The MP4 uses these to the fullest, providing 592 horsepower and 443 lb. ft. of torque, and ample mid-range power with only a hint of lag that does anything but intrude on your spirited driving experience. And boy oh boy, when the symphony of these turbos and its 3.8 liter V8 come to life, your eardrums (and soul, in our opinion) are bathed in a hulky roar that keeps your foot full of lead. Let off the gas and the sounds continue to please with a hushed exhale from the blow-off valves. In numbers the MP4 achieves 60 mph in about 3 seconds and hits up to 205 mph. Mated to this sweet little V8 is a 7-speed double-clutch transmission that is lightning fast. In addition, the McLaren also benefits from excellent grip that actually tops the Ferrari at 1.03g. This high grip rating means that this one really shines through high speed turns. What is great, though, is that this is a supercar that is still able to provide a supple, stable ride for its passengers despite its aggressive track numbers.
Aesthetically the McLaren is really a beauty. It’s shape is not necessarily revolutionary among supercars, but the fluidity and simplicity give it an understated (for supercars) air that is really attractive. The gaping side scoops reminds you of the powerhouse that resides in the back and are the centerpiece of its design statement. Our McLaren MP4-12c rental comes in a deep, less bright yellow that suits the car perfectly in that it has bright, crazy intentions but shows them in a slightly composed manner. Inside the McLaren appoints the driver beautifully with a sexy, skinny center stack and instrument cluster. When you look at the tach you’ll notice it starts at 1,000 rpm; who needs to idle, the McLaren wants to move!
But just when you start to fall in love with the McLaren, the Ferrari 458 Italia makes a damn good case at stealing your heart. These two cars are kind of like trophies among our exotic car rental options, and the Ferrari has fangs that are a bit more willing to bite for supremacy. Fitted with a naturally-aspirated 4.5 liter V8, the 458 Italia spins up 562 horsepower and 400 lb. ft. of torque good for 3.3 seconds to 60 and a 205 mph top speed; see where the competitiveness between these two cars comes from? When the McLaren talks back it is in not really subdued, but compared to the Ferrari’s feral scream it starts to take on that characteristic. All throughout its 9,000 available revs the 458 changes its tone and resonance, allowing itself to be played like a musical instrument. Though not quite as sticky as the McLaren, the 458 still achieves an impressive 1.01g that allows for a thrilling but bit less composed experience.
In terms of design, the Ferrari is a stunner. It takes unconventional aesthetic proportions and puts them together in a package that looks like something of a modern automotive sculpture. Our Ferrari 458 Italia rental is appropriately dressed in fiery Ferrari red. Inside you’re greeted by sumptuous tan leather seats and sporty, simplistic ergonomics. Inside is also where all the driver-led performance alterations take place. With the flip of a switch you can turn shifts from gentle nudges to hammer blows, change suspension, exhaust, and more.
All in all, you truly can’t go wrong with these V8 masterpieces. On paper these cars are very similar, a feat reinforced by their both being a thrilling experience. When comparing, though, nuances and differences do float to the surface. While the McLaren is by no means a subdued car, it is offers a lighter load on the drivers’ senses, which can be a good or not-so-good thing depending on the driver. Both supercars give the driver supreme control and tons of powerful, revving goodness. So, how do you choose? Think of it like a business deal. Both cars will provide you with comparable profits, but with a different handshake. While the McLaren closes the deal with a firm handshake, the Ferrari will leave your knuckles white.
– Evan W.