Today sees first blood to McLaren against Ferrari with the announcement that their new MP4-12C supercar will cost £168,500 when it goes on sale in the first half of 2011.

Importantly, the McLaren price tag is inclusive of the new 20% VAT rate due to come into effect at the beginning of 2011, whereas Ferrari’s £169,546 458 Italia is at the present 17.5% VAT rate, with Ferrari likely to raise the price of the 458 when the 2.5% rate increase is implemented.

In Ferrari’s defence, the MP4-12C price tag does not include first registration fee or the first year of road tax (£1,005 collectively), nor does it include ceramic brakes (a £9,770 option) unlike every new Ferrari model on sale today.

What we’re saying then are that these are ultimately tiny price differences in a premium market with low price elasticity.  When these two machines go head to head is when we’ll really see who is top dog, England or Italy. We can’t wait.