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Featured PC Assetto Corsa: Ferrari 458 vs McLaren MP4-12C Review

Discussion in 'Assetto Corsa' started by Chris Stacey, Jul 30, 2015.

  1. Chris Stacey

    Chris Stacey
    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Premium Member

    With the rate of engineering progress and R&D in today's motoring world, these two cars are relative dinosaurs. A Windows XP to today's Windows 10 cars, but I still love them, and they're both exquisite cars to drive.

    I'll be honest, I've wanted to do this review for a long time, but, for one reason or another it just hasn't panned out. But now, I can finally say that I've been able to spend enough time in both cars to wring their necks, form a subjective opinion on them, and tell you all about it. So here goes...

    I'll come straight out and say that I think the Ferrari 458 Italia is the best looking Ferrari that the Scuderia have ever made. Yes, ever. It's my absolute dream car. The bodywork contours and panel sculpturing are a true work of art, and I personally think that no matter what angle you observe it from, it always looks stunningly gorgeous. Woking's answer to the Maranello supercar is the MP4-12C, which boasts more torque, more power, less weight, better braking and a higher top speed. It is in essence, a direct reply to Ferrari saying "anything you can do, I can do better". A game of one-upmanship if you will, which incidentally has served only to escalate in recent years with the LaFerrari and P1, and now the new duel between the 488 GTB and 675LT.

    The 12C is a better car, and if driven in the correct manner, it will give you a quicker lap time than the Ferrari. The more avid viewers of Top Gear will remember how they used to go to great lengths to explain that whilst the 12C is a better car, it's just not as special as the 458 in that it feels too clinical, too scientific and discards the passion of motoring joy in favour of a few tenths of second around Silverstone. Upon testing the two cars in Assetto Corsa, it was readily apparent that Kunos Simulazioni have been able to capture this exact feeling in the virtual world as well. Yes the 12C is quicker, but the 458 is better looking, better sounding and more exhilarating to drive. So it was pretty awesome to be able to actually feel what Clarkson, Hammond and May have been saying over the years about this intangible X-factor that the Ferrari seems to possess, directly translate into the virtual world of Assetto Corsa.


    You get the sense that the McLaren doesn't like to be driven stupidly, which is obviously where it excels at delivering lap time performance, but it also makes it less enjoyable to drive. In the Ferrari you can kick the back end out and hold it quite comfortably, and it's incredibly satisfying. It may be slower to corner sideways, but it's almost as if the 458 is egging you on to do it. Additionally, the gearbox in the 458 is an absolute peach. The gear changes are instantaneous, without any affect to the balance of the car. Where as the McLaren also uses a dual clutch gearbox, however it is less responsive than the Ferrari's particularly on the downshift, and can sometimes cause some issues with the car balance as there's a rather large difference in gear ratio size between 2nd and 3rd gear, leading to the rear end snapping out as the drive train attempts to absorb a lot of the stress you're putting it through. Speaking of gear ratios in the McLaren, the 6th and 7th gears are utterly useless. They're so long that they kill all 600Nm of torque, and serve only to maintain the speed of the car, rather than to increase its speed.

    Aside from all those power and weight figures, another reason the 12C is the quicker of the two is because McLaren have been clever enough to utilise the helping hand of active aerodynamics. As with the P1 and the Pagani Huayra in Assetto Corsa, the 12C uses the same algorithm for its rear wing movements as its real life counterpart, which is a pretty special piece of programming by Kunos, and something that likely has never been done before. That's not to say that there hasn't been cars with active aero in any other games before, but certainly none have replicated road car physics and aerodynamics quite as realistically as this. In fact, nothing even comes remotely close. The difference in braking performance is very noticeable, as the Ferrari suffers from massive understeer under braking, almost as if the bias is set too far forward while the ABS prevents you from locking. You have to make sure that you're pointing at exactly the turn-in point for the corner before you hit the brakes because once you do apply the brakes, little can be done to change your line. The McLaren however, feels far better and is more agile in braking, allowing for more creative lines into corners, which again, helps with lap time.


    As far as drawbacks go, the speedometer on the 12C only reads in Miles per hour, regardless of whether or not you've got it set to Metric or Imperial in the settings menu. I also noticed that the brake lights on the McLaren disappear when it's far away and the lower LOD's kick in, something the Ferrari doesn't do. The 458 on the other hand seems to suffer from some sort of strange rolling resistance when you're not on the throttle. It definitely didn't used to be like this, but I noticed a change in the way the car felt sometime around the release of 1.0 RC. It's almost as if the drive train is not aligned correctly, or something, and that is causing this strange feeling of some extra resistance to the cars natural roll. Whether or not the car behaves likes this in real life, I don't know, but I certainly preferred the way it was before as it can make corner entry rather unpredictable at times.

    At the end of the day, I suppose it comes down to personal preference, as both cars are fantastic to drive, it's just a question of which one you like more. For me, it's the fun factor of the Ferrari that wins out, but if someone were to offer me a 12C in real life, I wouldn't exactly say "no" either, as it's still a truly special car.

    McLaren MP4-12C

    Ferrari 458 Italia
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
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  2. Kurt "Yoda" Kalbfleisch

    Kurt "Yoda" Kalbfleisch
    Scuderia Sprezzatura Premium Member

    Nicely written piece. Couldn't agree more!
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  3. Nice review......I drive the 458 and the 458 GT2 a lot in AC...its fun, lively, sounds good, looks awesome and has that cool reverse TV monitor. I think I'll try the McLaren a bit more, as you say its a bit more"clinical", but maybe I'll be a bit faster in it.........
  4. nice review man, agree with you totally on 458's brakes, it's just too scary to stomp on those brakes at high speed, maybe because the street tires works like eco tires, no grip whatsoever..... just a thing though, Mclaren using a twin clutch gearbox like the 458, except in AC, the shift were not instantaneous, in real life which I've already tried the real 12C, it is a piece of engineering perfection, except it's not as exciting as the 458, better car just less of a soul than the 458.....
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  5. Torcano

    #21 MPB Clan Premium Member

    I'd say the 12C suffers from the same disease as the Nissan GTR, the car itself is so capable and has such a high ceiling of accessible performance that not many can actually get the bloody thing over its limit, which in turn makes everything under the limit feel easy and as a side effect a bit boring. Imperfections are good, they add to the character and McLaren is trying to chase after some ideal perfection while abandoning everything else. That is why I like the P1, because McLaren said screw the perfection and let's make our car as mean and dramatic as possible. And no wonder everyone likes it; it's a happy car while the 12C is a serious car. I like the 458 spider better than the hardtop though, it just looks soooooo much better with the roof down, one of the best looking cars period. Too bad we don't have many droptops ingame. :p

    Edit: @Chris Stacey Maybe the strange off throttle resistance of the 458 is due to its engine braking which is apparently disconcertingly strong. It's in this article over here.


    "For kicks, on the complete opposite end of the overrun-engine-braking spectrum, the car that's hyper-willing to jump into full engine braking at the slightest hint of a throttle lift is the Ferrari 458 Italia. It's almost disconcerting. And now you know."
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  6. Chris Stacey

    Chris Stacey
    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Premium Member

    Ah, my mistake, not sure why I put single clutch when I knew it used a dual clutch. Fixed :)

    Ahh, thanks for the heads up :)
    I have always wondered about it, so it's nice to see that the physics in Assetto replicate the real life characteristics of the car so accurately :D
  7. Enzo Fazzi

    Enzo Fazzi
    Always sideways Premium Member

    I believe there's something wrong. The Ferrari seems to have only 4 stars?

    All joking aside, great review, it tells us exactly how it is. :)
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  8. St3fan

    Stefan Zhang <- Just use this name for convenience Premium Member

    After reading this detailed and great review I just wanna fire up AC right away. It's incredible that a sim can give so much sensation of driving, and that's why I love AC.

    I wonder, though, whether you drive two cars with assists on or off, and whether the 3 TG hosts drove the cars with assists on or off. On Top Gear Jeremy praised the clever and technical design of MP4-12C so much that it makes me feel anyone could drive the car fast easily, but I'm pretty sure in AC it's not that easy and one has to be careful with the inputs.
  9. Well written Chris!

  10. nice review Chris:D 100% agree with you.

    the "Fun Factor" is the only minus point for 12C. The rest, that car is amazing.
  11. Torcano

    #21 MPB Clan Premium Member

    Ehh, I wouldn't call the 12C entirely joyless. I find some happiness in its composure, definitely a riot to drive on the ring, the poor thing just wants you to go balls to the wall fast so that it can enjoy itself. It's something like this. :p

  12. Marian Zelenka

    Marian Zelenka
    The downforce is strong with this one. Premium Member

    Somehow I like that "unique" handling of 12C. It doesn't handle as you would expect it to, but that's not necessarily bad.
  13. Objective opinion is better than subjective :p.
  14. I know only the GT-cars well enough to say something about them. I don´t know, why people chose this stupid McLaren or how they manage to handle this car. When the rear comes, it overtakes, you can´t do anything about it. And this happens far to often in my case:confused:. The 458 is like driving on rails against this piece of :poop:. But my best lap-times on Nordschleife in the GT-cars is with the Nissan followed by the Merc (6:50 vs 6:53). Okay, for the Merc i downloaded a really good setup. Without it has the same problem, but i couldn´t find a good setup for the McLaren.

    I don´t know what the real cars are driving, but the break balance in this cars till they handle okay is way to much to the front. In pCars i never push this up to over 60%, but in AC 67 to 69% is the way to go. It shouldn´t be that high i guess.
  15. Stereo

    Premium Member

    There are a few ways of defining brake bias, AC's is raw 'amount of brake torque at each corner', it can also be the proportion of braking pressures (which then means the actual brake torque depends on pad compounds, disc radius, number of pistons, etc.), front brakes are usually a fair amount stronger (since they do take up more of the braking energy) but the bias done that way would be different.

    Given how hard they can brake, bias should be pretty high since at 1G+ deceleration there's a very significant weight shift.
  16. Matheus Machado

    Matheus Machado
    #17 Talking Door Racing Staff Premium Member

    Couldn't have done a better analysis myself Chris, Absolutely Fantastic stuff.
    My personal views on these two is reflected in the personality of the two manufacturers: on one side, a passionate group who is as excited as anyone can get creating and owning a fast and extravagant machine. On the other, a group of perfectionist engineers who no matter what they manage to create (or any other manufacturer), they know it is possible and push themselves to make something better, faster and more advanced. It is just reflected on the LaFerrari, a superlative machine, and the P1, a race car with road tyres and turn signals.

    Side note: A slight toe change in the car can help a lot. The default setup is aligned to favour understeer, as IRL manufacturers try to make their cars "easier" to drive.
  17. No, not really. Break bias indicates the relative amount of brake pressure applied from the master cylinder(s) to the front brakes.

    And one more physics issue is a bit odd in AC. Why get tyres so hot driving a fast straight line even without more acceleration? In pCars and rFactor 2 it´s the opposite: the tyres are cooling down which makes more sense.
  18. This review is one that i agree completely, it's like i wrote it.:)

    I'm not overly fond of the 12C, the front end has a small window from where it bites to where it washes out (i guess every road suffers from that to a degree), and the rear straight up doesn't want to play.

    I'm still faster with it compared to the 458 but i wonder wether i'm reaching it's full potential.
  19. Dux

    The 1st MK Formula 1 rFactor Sim-Racing Champion Premium Member

    Great review @Chris Stacey :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
    I loved that "anything you can do, i can do better", cause being faster, lighter, better on braking, more torque and bigger top speed means literally that.

    However you really nailed it what i was talking with some guys. That Ferrari 458 is perhaps the best thing i have driven on simulation. Its so pleasing so beautiful i love it. And i havent driven it in months and months! Talking about it right now, i go home soon and ill jump in the seat for some laps with it.

    The McLaren is just too much precise. You cannot play with him...
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  20. Great review, unless I wouldn`t agree with it completely, at least what concerns which car is faster (in AC, not in real life). In most of the track Ferrari 458 is a faster car, lovers turns more then the McLaren MP12C.