The McLaren 650S joins the range as an additional model alongside the 12C and sold-out McLaren P1™, and learns from both models as well as 50 years of competing in the highest levels of motorsport. Available as a fixed-head Coupé or as a Spider, with a retractable folding hard top, the McLaren 650S promises to redefine the high performance supercar segment, and has been designed and developed to provide the ultimate in driver engagement on the road and on the race track.
The 650S badge designation refers to the power output – 650PS (641 bhp), – of the unique British-built McLaren M838T twin turbo V8 engine. ‘S’ stands for ‘Sport’, underlining the focus and developments made to handling, transmission, drivability and engagement. The maximum power figure ensures the best power-to-weight ratio in its class, at 500PS (493 bhp) per tonne.
The design is inspired by the McLaren P1™, showcasing a new family design language for the brand. More importantly, the new look follows the McLaren design ethos of ‘form follows function’, with the front bumper providing a dramatic, yet clean, appearance while the integrated front splitter contributes to increased levels of downforce. This offers a greater level of steering feeling and confidence to the driver on turn-in, while also adding to the agility and handling balance. Unique door blades behind the front wheels, on the leading edge of the dihedral doors, direct air from the trailing edges of the front splitter, further benefiting front-end grip and vehicle balance.
Distinctive sculpted side intakes direct air into the efficiently packaged radiators to cool the unique 3.8-litre twin-turbo M838T V8 engine. Maximum torque produced is 678Nm (500 lb ft).
‘McLaren is an engineering led company, and we’re proud of that,’ says McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt. ‘The new design gives important engineering and driver benefits. Yet it’s not just about improving the numbers. The McLaren 650S also dials up the design drama and driving excitement.’
Key to the McLaren 650S is the fact that the everyday usability and capabilities offered by, and expected of, any McLaren model are not compromised. Despite the power and performance focus, the McLaren 650S boasts an extensive specification list, with an optimised powertrain, braking and suspension systems, as well as a refined and luxuriously equipped cabin. Yet, even with these extra features, the McLaren 650S weighs just 1330kg (dry) – 6kg lighter than the 12C. Light weight, as ever, is a core theme of the latest model from McLaren.
Performance is class leading for both the Coupé and Spider models: 0-100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration takes only 3.0 seconds, 0-200 km/h (124 mph) takes just 8.4 seconds for the Coupé [Spider 8.6 seconds]. Maximum speed is 333 km/h (207mph) [329 km/h (204 mph) for Spider].
Says Mike Flewitt: ‘The McLaren 650S is a multi-purpose, high performance sports car, and is thrilling to drive. No other series-production sports car on sale today offers such a breadth of capabilities. Maximum driver appeal, and driver engagement, is at the heart of this car, as it is with all McLarens. Yet unlike some rivals, the McLaren 650S is not a stripped-out racer. It is faster than many other ultra-sports car rivals, yet there is no compromise in luxury. It has all the refinement and comfort you would expect from McLaren, and all the power and excitement as well. Many McLaren owners do use their cars every day, and frequently drive hard on track days. The McLaren 650S is designed for both. It really is a no compromise option.’
The ‘no compromise’ McLaren 650S is also one of the most efficient models in class, returning 24.2 mpg (11.7 l/100km) on the EU combined cycle, and a CO2 figure of 275g/km. This is testament to the drive by McLaren for continued improvement and class-leading efficiency.
The McLaren 650S is launched as an addition to McLaren Automotive range, and sits above the groundbreaking 12C – which continues on sale at a more accessible price point. As with the celebrated 12C, and the limited edition McLaren P1™, the McLaren 650S models use a Formula 1™-inspired carbon fibre chassis. Weighing just 75kg, the innovative MonoCell forms the centre of the McLaren 650S and offers advantages in weight, torsional rigidity, durability, safety and quality. These all add to a superior driving experience. Other technologies with links back to the company’s Formula 1 rich heritage include full wishbone suspension, mid-engine architecture, Brake Steer for enhanced agility, carbon ceramic disc brakes (standard on the McLaren 650S) and active aerodynamics.
In addition to building on the learnings from success on the track, the McLaren 650S also benefits from the groundbreaking technologies fitted to other McLaren models. Active aerodynamics, which feature on both the 12C and McLaren P1™, have been further developed and honed to ensure the ultimate performance and ability for the McLaren 650S. The McLaren Airbrake, originally fitted to the 12C and 12C Spider and designed to offer optimised levels of downforce on the rear of the car, now works with greater levels of functionality, and offers a greater degree of stability in a wider range of conditions.
‘Everything we’ve learnt from the McLaren P1™ and the 12C has gone into the McLaren 650S. The result is a car that’s faster, more fun and thrilling to drive, yet also more comfortable, luxurious and even easier to enjoy, day-to-day’ says Flewitt. ‘At McLaren, we are a fast moving company, continually striving for improvements and technical advantages. We always want to push, to improve. That’s our Formula 1 heritage and mentality shining through. Always seeking to innovate, to be the class-leaders, to bring new technologies to market as fast as possible.’
The McLaren 650S uses a unique version of the award-winning 3.8-litre, twin turbo V8 M838T engine. New pistons and cylinder heads provide a boost in engine power and torque, and these are combined with new exhaust valves and revised cam timing. Further advances have been made to the transmission software to allow faster and crisper gearshifts. Adding to the aural drama in ‘Sport’ mode is ‘cylinder cut’ technology, which produces an exhaust flare on upshifts. This is achieved by momentarily interrupting the spark and ‘popping’ the fuel on re-ignition. This gives a distinctive engine note, as exhaust sound is amplified, without any loss in performance.
Under hard acceleration in ‘Track’ mode, when full performance is required, the McLaren 650S features ‘inertia push’, which harnesses the built up kinetic energy to deliver an impulse of torque as the next gear is engaged. This approach delivers the next gear before the engine speed has dropped, resulting in continual strong acceleration, with no drop in the rate of acceleration as the driver upshifts.
Further optimisation has been made to the McLaren-developed clutch control software, which improves smoothness, predictability and refinement, particularly at low speed, through the seven speed dual clutch gearbox.
The pioneering ProActive Chassis Control (PCC) suspension system, developed by McLaren, has been further enhanced for the McLaren 650S. A feature of the system is the ability to adjust the ride and handling modes – Normal / Sport / Track – in isolation from the drivetrain, which gives complete freedom in terms of ride and handling. These settings, for both powertrain and suspension, have been re-calibrated to improve driver engagement. The updates are especially noticeable in Sport mode.
New damper mounts offer improved levels of ride comfort and minimise any noise, vibration and harshness carried through into the cabin, while redesigned dampers and springs are coupled with sharper steering. A new lightweight forged ‘650S’ alloy wheel design is fitted as standard on the McLaren 650S, and offers a 6kg weight saving over the standard cast wheel design on the 12C. Finished in silver, and available with an optional stealth or diamond cut finish, the unique design is shod with Pirelli P Zero™ Corsa tyres to offer optimised roadholding, handling and driver feedback – the bespoke ‘MC1’ branded tyres have been developed alongside the McLaren 650S by McLaren technology partner Pirelli, and offer strong performance in normal road conditions and on track.
The dramatic exterior styling includes full LED headlamps derived from the McLaren P1™. These provide a distinctive illumination of the road ahead, and echo the signature McLaren ‘speed marque’ logo in the design. The bonnet is finished with a new McLaren badge, inspired by the badge fitted to the iconic McLaren F1. The rear of the McLaren 650S has been designed to optimise aerodynamics, with a 12C GT3-inspired three-piece bumper.
As standard, the interior is trimmed in lightweight Alcantara, while full leather is available. These materials extend to include the full headlining, while contrast colour stitching is also available. Fixed-back carbon racing seats, based on the lightweight design found in the McLaren P1™, offer superb levels of upper and lower body support, improve driver engagement, and save 15kg.
The McLaren 650S is designed to be the best and most engaging driver’s car in its class, yet it is not a stripped out road racer. Ride comfort and refinement are to executive saloon standards. The McLaren 650S models are equipped with IRIS satellite navigation with Bluetooth telephony, DAB digital radio in European markets (SIRIUS satellite radio in North America), wireless tethering, audio streaming and voice control as standard, while also offering enhanced levels of optional specification than previously offered. Options include fixed-back carbon racing seats, based on the lightweight design found in the McLaren P1™, an electric steering column adjustment assisting ingress and egress, a rear parking camera and extended carbon fibre throughout the interior.