One of the most interesting things about the newest sports car from McLaren Automotive is the timing of it.
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Just last year McLaren won raves as it introduced the P1 hybrid supercar at the Geneva Motor Show (which we wrote about here).
Now the startup British automaker returns to Geneva again to debut yet another spectacle of engineering prowess: the 2015 McLaren 650S.
That is speedy work.
Granted, the 650S is not made entirely from scratch, despite being a new model. This elite sports car gets much of its looks and technology from other McLarens.
But in keeping with its heritage as a fast-moving innovator in Formula One racing, McLaren promises the 650S brings improvements in everything from aerodynamics to handling.
The 2015 McLaren 650S is basically an enhanced version of the MP4-12C, with an additional 24 horsepower and new chassis tuning.
It looks almost identical to the 12C, save for new LED headlights and a front bumper inspired by the P1.
The tweaks are for practical reasons, rather than just aesthetics.
“The newly designed front bumper improves downforce and steering turn-in,” Mike Flewitt, the CEO of McLaren Automotive, said in a press release announcing the 650S. “The high-speed handling balance is now even better.”
The 650S will come as a coupe and a convertible, same as with the 12C. The coupe will have McLaren’s signature swing-up doors, while the convertible, called the 650S Spider, will feature the ingenious folding hard top from the 12C Spider.
The shape of the rear bumper—which is borrowed from the GT3 racing version of the 12C—is an example of McLaren technology that was originally developed for the track being applied to the street. The three-piece bumper aids the aerodynamics of the 650S.
McLaren also enhanced its Airbrake system, originally used on the 12C and 12C Spider. The movable rear spoiler automatically repositions itself to increase downforce whenever the need is detected. With the 12C, the Airbrake deploys only during braking.
All of the changes to the body combine to increase downforce levels by 24 percent at 150 miles per hour when compared to the 12C. (And the 12C is no slouch either. See it take a lap around the racetrack here.)
As usual, McLaren opted for a cryptic name, but it does have significance. The “650” represents the amount of power the engine produces. The car has an enhanced version of McLaren’s usual twin-turbocharged V8, which now delivers 650 PS, or metric horsepower. That works out to 641 horsepower by our standards. (PS, short for “pferdest rke,” is a German standard for measuring engine power. The phrase translates to “horse power.”)
The “S” in the car’s name stands for “sport” and speaks to McLaren’s efforts to build road cars that are engaging and dynamic.
To that end, the 650S also boasts improvements to the innovative Proactive Chassis Control suspension system developed by McLaren. The ride and handling modes—normal, sport and track—can now be chosen independently of the transmission mode. The suspension and drivetrain settings are tethered in the 12C.
In addition, Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires were specially developed for the 650S and are mounted on new lightweight five-spoke wheels. The custom tires are meant to optimize roadholding, handling and driver feedback.
The 650S will offer performance between that of the 12C and the sold-out P1, McLaren says.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but it will be north of the 12C, which will continue to be sold. (The 12C starts at $239,400 for the coupe and $266,750 for the convertible.)
The McLaren 650S goes on sale as a 2015 model soon after its March 4 debut at the Geneva Motor Show.
The show is open from March 6 to 16, following two press days.
Get a closer look at the latest addition to the McLaren lineup:
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