McLaren on the fast track

As Ferrari, Lotus and McLaren grid up for this year's Australian Grand Prix, a new battle has emerged away from the circuit.

McLaren's latest supercar for the road, the $500,000 MP4-12C - designed to compete with the Ferrari 458 Italia and top-end Lotus sports cars - is sold out until the end of the year.

Just two McLarens have arrived in Australia, but another 16 are due to be delivered in the coming months and the company holds a further 20 ''expressions of interest''.

This means that within its first year on sale, McLaren is likely to outsell the Lamborghini Gallardo and the Lotus Evora, and sell roughly half as many cars as the Ferrari. ''We're seeing customers from Ferrari, Lamborghini and the top-end Porsches,'' says the McLaren sales specialist for Australia, Chris Crea.

NSW and Victoria are the biggest markets. McLaren has only one dealer - in Sydney - but plans to expand.

The MP4-12C is powered by a twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8 engine and can reach 100km/h in 3.1 seconds, the same as the latest Ferrari and Lamborghini supercars. Within the next few years, McLaren plans to expand its range to three cars, with a top-end supercar priced close to $1 million dollars and a Porsche 911 rival for about $250,000.