British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, at the opening of McLaren Automotive Showroom, at Emaar Boulevard, Downtown Dubai. Image Credit: Javed Nawab/Gulf News

Dubai: McLaren plans to spread into the Middle East market following the launch of its newest sports car at a brand new showroom in Dubai.

At the launch of its new venue adjacent to the Burj Khalifa, McLaren executives told Gulf News that the company plans more showrooms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which will be operated by Al Habtoor Motors, as well as establishing a presence in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Greg Levine, McLaren global sales and marketing director, said the company's latest model, dubbed the MP4-12C, was already sold out, and McLaren planned to deliver more than 100 of the cars in 2012 at a price tag of Dh905,000 each to regional buyers.

He added that next year's inaugural production of the car globally could reach 1,500 units, sold through 35 newly opened showrooms around the world.

The first MP4-12C units to take to UAE roads will be delivered through Al Habtoor Motors, McLaren's Middle East retail partner.

Levine said for some, driving the new MP4-12C will be the closest they would ever get to driving McLaren's Formula One competition cars on top tracks around the world, but the experience will also offer a practical side for users with everyday transportation needs.

Two cars in one

"This is two cars in one, you can drive it in anger on a racetrack or you can put it in normal comfort mode on the highway," Levine said.

"You can drive this car every day and you won't be tired when you get out."

Sultan Al Habtoor, president of Al Habtoor Motors, said the McLaren partnership was a perfect fit for the company.

"Partnering with McLaren Automotive is something we are extremely excited by," Habtoor said. "The opening of the McLaren Dubai showroom demonstrates our joint commitment to bringing the most innovative and high-quality sports cars in the world to the UAE market."

Ian Gorsuch, McLaren regional director Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, said buying the new MP4-12C is a rare opportunity, given that the company only produced 107 McLaren F1 street-enabled sports cars in the 1990s.

Gorsuch also noted that teaming up with Al Habtoor Motors made perfect sense given the company's proven track record for decades in the UAE.

"We have a dealership here that shares our values and customer service," Gorsuch told Gulf News.

He added that opening McLaren's first showroom in the Middle East in the heart of new Dubai next to Burj Khalifa was a fitting location for iconic luxury and was in sync with the company's business philosophy.

At the opening last night, McLaren's star driver Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 Formula 1 World Driver's champion, made a personal appearance behind the wheel of the volcano orange MP4-12C a few days before he takes on competitors in Sunday's F1 race at Abu Dhabi's Yas Island venue.

In response to a question about his expectations of the event, Hamilton said he wanted "to win, I am as hungry as ever".

Fast figures: Thrilling with speed

The MP4-12C can reach 100 kph in 3.1 seconds from a standing start, thanks to an aluminum block V8 twin turbo engine delivering 600 horsepower and strapped to a single-piece carbon MonoCell chassis.