he McLaren 650S is a sports car designed and manufactured by McLaren Automotive. It was announced in February 2014 as a new model, but based on the existing McLaren MP4-12C with 25% new parts, and was formally unveiled at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.
The 650S shares the MP4-12C's carbon fibre composite chassis, and is powered by the same McLaren M838T 3.8-litre V8, twin-turbo engine, but now developing 641 bhp (478 kW; 650 PS) and 500 lb·ft (680 N·m) of torque.Power is transmitted to the wheels through a seven-speed near instantaneous shift dual-clutch gearbox.
The 650S has a claimed top speed of 333 km/h (207 mph), and can accelerate from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 3 seconds and from 0–200 km/h (0–124 mph) in 8.4 seconds.
The 650S is officially an additional model in McLaren’s growing portfolio and the 12C, which launched the brand’s bid to compete with Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche at the top of the supercar league, continues to be available.
The 12C, originally called the MP4-12C, matched the Ferrari 458 in everything other than heritage and the sheer look-at-me factor—and beat it in a comparo—newcomers like the 458 Speciale and Lamborghini Huracán threaten to put it in the shade. The 650S puts its main message—650 PS, which is actually 641 horsepower.
Underneath, the basic specification, size, and weight, is as the 12C but even the carbon-fiber MonoCell backbone has been tweaked (saving seven pounds from the original 176-pound chassis tub). Head of product development Mark Vinnels says that the 650S’s changes and improvements required fitting 25 percent new components versus the 12C.
Of course, being a McLaren, the emphasis is on driving. While 641 horsepower from the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 is important to keep ahead of the supercar opposition, Vinnels is prouder of the torque increase (from 443 lb-ft to a fat 500, available from 4000 rpm) which brings “a quite significant” performance improvement in real-world driving. The bump in twist is achieved by revisions to the cylinder heads, pistons, cooling system, and the variable valve timing. McLaren says that 0-to-60-mph acceleration now occurs in less than three seconds and 0 to 124 mph in 8.4. Maximum speed of 207 mph is unchanged from the 12C.
The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox has been refined to improve drivability, shift smoothness, and outright performance. In Sport mode, the engine is directed to cut two cylinders for 30 milliseconds on part-throttle upshifts, to deliver aural delights; while in Track mode, “inertia push” is available at engine speeds above 5000 rpm, releasing the energy stored by overlapping the clutches on an upshift.
Formula 1’s drag-reduction system (DRS) influenced the revised operation of the deployable wing-slash-air-brake. It starts at an angle of 25 percent but levels out at higher speeds in straight-line driving or under full acceleration when Aero mode is selected.
The 12C offered optional Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires and carbon-ceramic brakes, but the 650S wears new V-spec asymmetric Corsas on forged aluminum wheels (19-inchers up front, 20-inchers in the rear) and has the carbon brakes as standard.
Production of the 650S begins this month in the clinically clean conditions of the factory alongside the spectacular McLaren Technology Center in Woking, England. Its price will be announced at next month’s Geneva auto show where the car will make its in-the-metal debut. Initial indications are that 650S will be 10 percent costlier than the 12C, suggesting that sticker prices will start at about $265,000.