McLaren will return to the Geneva Motor Show this year with a new supercar. The latest McLaren 650S joins the range as an additional model alongside the 12C and sold-out P1, and will be made available both as a fixed-head coupe and as a Spider (with a retractable folding hard top).
The 650S badge designation refers to the power output – 641 bhp – of the British-built McLaren M838T twin turbo V8 engine. Although ‘S’ stands for ‘Sport’, exact performance figures have yet to be confirmed. But they will improve upon the 12C’s figures, says McLaren.
The design is inspired by the P1, previewing a new family design language. The front bumper sits below new LED headlamps which reflect a similar look to the P1. The more integrated front splitter increases downforce, giving improved steering feeling, while also adding to the car’s handling balance. Further benefiting front-end grip and vehicle balance, unique door blades behind the front wheels direct air from the trailing edges of the front splitter.
McLaren claims the aerodynamic performance of the 650S is as efficient as the 12C, managing to achieve the same drag coefficient figure. At 150 mph, downforce levels are increased by 24 per cent.
“As always with McLaren, the new design is there for good engineering reasons,” says McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt. “The newly designed front bumper improves downforce and steering turn-in. The high speed handling balance is now even better. The LED lights use less power and last longer.”
Side intakes behind the dihedral doors feed large, compactly packaged, radiators which help provide the cooling requirements of the mid-mounted engine. A new design five-spoke lightweight forged ‘650S’ alloy wheel is unique to the model, and are fitted with Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres. The bespoke ‘MC1’ branded tyres have been developed alongside the McLaren 650S by Pirelli.
Like both the 12C and P1, the 650S features active aerodynamics. The McLaren Airbrake, originally fitted to the 12C and 12C Spider, has been further developed to offer increased functionality and stability. The newly developed system means the Airbrake deploys whenever the car senses extra downforce is advisable – rather than simply under braking or when manually operated in ‘Aero’ mode. Below the Airbrake is a rear three-piece bumper, similar to the GT3 racing version of the 12C.
The ProActive Chassis Control (PCC) suspension system, developed by McLaren, has also been further enhanced for the 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 greater freedom in terms of ride and handling. These settings, for both powertrain and suspension, have been recalibrated for better driver engagement. The updates are especially noticeable in Sport mode, claims McLaren.
“Everything we’ve learnt from the 12C and the McLaren P1 has gone into the design and development of the McLaren 650S,” says Mike Flewitt.
On the inside, options include fixed-back carbon racing seats, based on the same design found in the P1, an electric steering column adjustment assisting ingress and egress, a rear parking camera and extended carbon fibre throughout the internal cabin.