This is the new McLaren 650S, a £190,000 mid-engined coupé that’s capable of hitting 207mph. It will make its public debut at the Geneva show next month alongside a 650S Spider model.
The car is closely related to the 12C but is £20,000 more expensive and closer in styling to the recently launched £860,000 P1 hypercar. It also incorporates a basket of detailed revisions that improve performance in all areas but major on driver involvement.
The changes are designed to counter criticism of the 12C from early owners, and to incorporate relevant know-how gained from the P1, which is now in its delivery phase.
McLaren’s 650S gets more standard equipment than the 12C, including lightweight forged alloy wheels, LED headlights, an Alcantara interior, carbon-ceramic brakes, revised sat-nav and a DAB radio as part of a sophisticated, screen-based audio system. The car also gets a new, wider design of Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres.
The 650S, whose name reflects the enhanced output of its 3.8-litre turbo V8 in metric horsepower, is likely to be portrayed widely as the 12C they’d like to have built in the first place.
However, McLaren insists that the original model will stay in production at £170,000 and will find ready sales in markets where aggressive taxation swells ex-factory prices.
Sales volume of the two cars is expected to stay at about 1200 units a year. The big sales boost for McLaren will come after next year’s launch of a £120,000 mid-engined McLaren, codenamed P13.
The 650S is instantly recognisable from its P1-style all-LED headlights and other cues that are part of a new McLaren design style created under chief designer Frank Stephenson. McLaren says that the 650S fulfils an early promise made by group chairman Ron Dennis to launch a substantial model every year. About 25 per cent of the 650S’s components are different from those of the 12C.
The engine has modifications to its cylinder head and pistons and adopts new McLaren engine management software. Power climbs to 641bhp from the 616bhp of later 12Cs. There is an even greater boost to torque, which now peaks at 500lb ft, a figure developed between 3000 and 7000rpm.
To accompany the punchier engine, the 650S’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox gets quicker, better-controlled gearshifts that make use of new McLaren patents. The 650S’s 0-62mph time is 3.0sec (a cut of 0.3sec) and the 0-125mph time is more than a second quicker at 8.4sec.
Spring rates have been stiffened by 22 per cent front and rear for better body control and are accompanied by revised damper mounts and rates. However, McLaren insists that the 12C’s ‘magic carpet’ ride survives in the 650S.
Among other chassis tuning changes are subtle adjustments to brake boost, to ABS and ESP intrusion and to the workings of the active aerodynamics that boost both engine cooling under extreme conditions and aerodynamic stability under brakes and during cornering. Peak downforce is now 40 per cent higher than that of the 12C and better balanced front to rear.
Listing all of these gains still doesn’t fully convey the extent of the 650S’s performance boost, according to McLaren’s head of product, Jamie Corstorphine. “The 12C is already an extremely practical, easy-driving car,” he said. “But when you drive a 650S, you soon appreciate that it has an even greater breadth of capability, plus more ability when it really counts.
“We haven’t built the 650S just for ten-tenths driving, and you don’t have to be a professional to enjoy it to the full. It feels special on any level; it’s up to the owner to choose the one he wants.”