The original McLaren F1 was powered by a V12, but these days Woking is sticking with smaller, lighter V8s.
It's been a long time since McLaren made a car with a V12. And it may be a while longer before it makes one again, if at all. The legendary McLaren F1 packed a BMW-sourced 6.0-liter V12, but the SLR and the MP4-12C that followed were both engineered around V8 engines. Even in Formula One, the last time the McLaren team ran a V12 was way back in 1992, when the team was still powered by Honda - although, that, admittedly, comes down primarily to regulations. Woking's upcoming hypercar won't include a V12, either.
Instead the McLaren F1 successor will take its power from a more powerful version of the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 in the MP4-12C with as much as 800 horsepower - more than Ferrari and Lamborghini get out of their latest V12 flagships. That's because McLaren , according to statements attributed to its managing director Anthony Sheriff, feels that "the V12 is a thing of the past" that "belongs in a museum". The benefit to using 50% fewer cylinders, of course, is that the engine weighs that much less. And as we all know, weight is the enemy of performance.
On the other hand, V12s command the ultimate bragging rights (or penultimate, anyway, once you take the sixteen-cylinder Bugatti Veyron into account), and naturally have the capacity to - even if they don't necessarily - produce more power. With the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani sticking with V12s, and Porsche and McLaren going with V8s for their new hypercars, how many cylinders would you demand in your supercar?