2011 McLaren MP4-12C vs 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

Not too long ago, two automakers joined forces to create a supercar that was part McLaren, part Mercedes: the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. Since then, each company has parted ways and developed their own supercars incorporating their own technology and heritage, the MP4-12C and SLS AMG. They couldn't be more different. It's a story of embracing the future versus embracing the past. A look forward versus a look back. It's chess versus PlayStation. I could go on forever but the point is, the MP4-12C and SLS AMG are two very different supercars built for two different types of people.

There's so much more to consider when choosing which one of these two cars you prefer. For instance, do you prioritize performance first, comfort second or vice-versa? Do you believe a supercar's engine belongs in the front or middle? Is there really no replacement for displacement or are turbochargers the future? Then you have to ask yourself if you enjoyed the past or are looking forward to the future. If your hero is the late, great Paul Newman or the invincible Michael Schumacher. If you like doors that raise straight up or diagonally. Owning one of these cars can define who you are.

If you choose the McLaren, then you're choosing a mid-engined, 3.8-liter twin turbocharged V8 race car for the road. What you lack in comfort you more than make up for in performance. You'll get a supercar that's pure McLaren, featuring no other parts from any other car in the world. Your fantasy of racing an F1 car can become reality because there's so much F1 technology incorporated into the MP4-12C that you'll no longer look up to Michael Schumacher, you'll rival him.

If you choose the Mercedes, you'll experience history in the making. You can drive for hours on end picturing Audrey Hepburn in your passenger's seat as you careen through the countryside with a massive 6.2-liter V8 out in front of you. You realize that it's not often that an automobile manufacturer reincarnates such a classic and historic car like the SLS's predecessor.

Both the McLaren and Mercedes are named with purpose. The jumble of letters and numbers stand for more than one might think. The McLaren's name spells out a variety of configuration choices with MP4 standing for McLaren Project 4, the same chassis designation for McLaren's Formula 1 cars. The number '12' signifies its focus on performance and the letter 'C' stands for Carbon, as in carbon fiber. AMG has been added to the name of the SLS to emphasize that this supercar is the first Mercedes to be designed in-house by Mercedes's high performance division. The SLS's name signifies a modern reincarnation of the historic Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing from the 1950s but there's more to it than just that.

Everything about the SLS pays homage to the 300SL. Many consider the 300SL the first supercar ever which gave the world technology it had never seen before. It was the first automobile ever to feature direct injection which only now, 50 years later, is becoming mainstream. It was aerodynamic in its time, built around a tubular chassis to increase chassis strength. This resulted in high door sills which required the invention and application of gull wing doors, a historic landmark in automotive history. Today, the original 300SL can cost upwards of $700,000 compared to the $11,000 asking price in 1954. So when you look at the SLS AMG's price, it may very well be worth $12 billion 50 years from now.

Speaking of which, when you look at both the MP4-12C's and SLS AMG's price, they look like relative bargains. When the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren debuted in 2004, it was priced at $450,000 later climbing up to $495,000. For that amount of money, you could buy both the MP4-12C and the SLS AMG and still have plenty of money left over. That's good news considering both of these supercars are launching in a worldwide recession but the fact that these two supercars now exist offers a glimmer of hope in gloomy times.

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