Automobiles are just as susceptible to fashion as the humans who drive them. When it comes to exotic supercars, fashion trends zip by quicker than a 0 to 60-mile per hour acceleration time.
In the 1990s, race car builder McLaren was at the height of vehicle fashion with the F1 supercar. Creating a stir when it was first produced in 1992, by the time the last example rolled out of the Woking assembly facility the McLaren F1 was already being outshined by the latest Lamborghini or Ferrari. When McLaren reentered the supercar market on their own with the MP4-12C in 2011, again the famous operator of Formula 1 cars had an ultra-modern performance ride. Knowing it to inevitable that another supercar constructor will attempt to outclass their 12C, McLaren developed a high-powered secret weapon, the limited production 903-horsepower P1 launched last year. With only 375 examples of the McLaren P1 (with everyone already spoken for) being produced, McLaren realized it needed to lure the affluent motorist with another car. More powerful than a McLaren 12C but not as hot-to-handle as the P1, the British based supercar builder has created the 650S.
Surfacing ahead of its official unveiling at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, the McLaren 650S is balanced between high performance, handling and comfort. Naming inspiration for the new McLaren supercar is gained through the 650PS (641 horsepower) twin-turbocharged V-8 engine. The mid-mounted powerplant is the same M838T engine that powers the 12C but is obviously enhanced on the McLaren 650S. The ‘S’ for the new McLaren is simply derived from sport.
Borrowing front end styling influence from the P1, the McLaren 650S is an immediate eye-catcher. LED headlights, cleverly integrated front splitter and air-directing door blades provide functional touches to the supercar’s stylish face. A three-piece rear bumper assembly like the one found on the McLaren 12C GT3 car is present at the hind side of the 650S. A Coupe and Spider version of the McLaren 650S has already been announced. The McLaren 650S Spider will incorporate a retractable folding hardtop roof panel that should roughly maintain the performance attributes found on the coupe.
Billed as a mid-range vehicle between the P1 and 12C, this does not mean the McLaren 650S has been created as a compromise. When it comes to the aerodynamics of the 650S, McLaren has applied their full expertise into honing the most efficient shape possible. The use of active aerodynamics features McLaren’s finest production car airflow characteristics. Fitted with an Airbrake that was first incorporated on the 12C, the McLaren 650S supercar’s device provides greater automated stability qualities as the system can now detect an ideal time to deploy. The Airbrake on the 650S also works under braking as well as when manually operated using ‘Aero’ mode. McLaren states that the new functional bodywork employed on the 650S supercar allows increased downforce levels totalling to 24 percent when the vehicle is at 150 mph.
Close to the ground of the McLaren 650S, an improved ProActive Chassis Control suspension system provides a customizable ride and handling qualities. Normal, Sport and Track driving modes are available through the 650S’ ProActive Chassis Control. Working with the same company that supplies tires to the Formula 1 series, McLaren has consulted with Pirelli in developing high-performance tires perfectly suiting the 650S. Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires are combined with lightweight forged wheels adhering to a five-spoke design.
In a dihedral fashion (a trademark shared among all current McLaren supercars), the doors of the McLaren 650S open to reveals a two-occupant cockpit. The instrument layout appears carefully placed in a manner similar to what would be expected on a Formula 1 race car. Unlike the world championship open-wheel race car, the 650S is equipped with amenities such as Bluetooth and a digital radio receiver. Electric adjustable steering column, rearview camera as well as carbon racing seats is optional on the McLaren 650S.
Officially receiving an introduction to the world on March 4th, the specific performance characteristics and pricing for the McLaren 650S should be quickly revealed. Availability for the new supercar is scheduled for this spring.