2015 McLaren 650S

Base RWD 2-Dr Coupe V8 auto trans

Base RWD 2-Dr Coupe V8 auto trans

2015 mclaren 650s Reviews and News

2015 McLaren 650S Spider Side Profile
The first thing that happens when a mantis green 2015 McLaren 650S Spider shows up in the AUTOMOBILE parking lot is a frantic debate over who gets to drive the car, and when. Unlike preschoolers, we managed to share and spent time blasting the 650S along freeways, cruising Woodward Avenue, and using it as an eye-searing ride to lunch. Here's what happens when you spend a week driving a 2015 McLaren 650S Spider.
1. Everybody takes your photo
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Door Mirror
Make sure your hair is combed and your shirt is clean, because you'll be starring in lots of smartphone photos. Whether parked or in traffic, it seemed as if we couldn't turn our heads without somebody taking a photo of the wild-looking 2015 McLaren 650S Spider. The scariest part of that, though, is when other drivers lean out of their windows to snap a picture. When you're driving $341,390 of carbon fiber and aluminum, the last thing you want is a distracted dolt plowing into your lane.
2. Some of the amateur photographers ask first
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Rear End
Are they being polite? Perhaps; most likely they think you actually own the car, which means they worry you’re rich, powerful, and thus could crush them if they run an unflattering photo on Instagram. (Some of us don’t carry a comb.) They’d rather have a photo of the car without you, anyway. Best to park it along Woodward and invite people to sit in it and take selfies. Parents will love you if you let their kids try it, and they’ll be too reverent and grateful to do anything that might soil the interior.
3. It's easy to use, but your back will hurt
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Todd Lassa Driving
The 2015 McLaren 650S Spider doesn't beat you up over broken pavement. Its touchscreen infotainment system is as simple to use as an iPhone. The dual-clutch transmission never lurches or clunks in traffic. In fact, the only mildly unpleasant thing about driving the 650S is its unyielding seats. With tight bolsters that pinch our thighs and a stiff backrest with little lower-back padding, the $7,110 racing bucket seats are meant for performance driving rather than long-distance trips.
4. The suspension only needs two settings, not three
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Front End
Hustling the car around our favorite cloverleaf (the only “road” that passes for a sports car road in metro Detroit) in Comfort mode, there was just a slight bit of compliance, which made it easier to maintain the arc. Major imperfections on the on- and off-ramps, typical for the region, didn’t upset the chassis, although it must be noted we dared not get close to 10/10ths in search of the mid-engine car’s polar moment of inertia. The Sport setting stiffens it a bit, but really, there’s no need for more than two settings rather than three -- how about calling them "track" and "not-track"?
5. The backup camera is essentially useless
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Backup Camera
While it certainly wouldn't prevent us from buying this incredible supercar, the backup camera (part of the $9,950 Technology package) wouldn't pass muster in a Mitsubishi Mirage. The small, grainy display is little help when reversing in or out of parking spaces. Adjust your mirrors carefully.
6. Around here, it’s about straight-line performance
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Badge
Plant your right foot and the 650S speeds to 60 mph in a claimed 2.9 seconds. You won’t want to turn off the traction or stability controls, but even with them engaged, the rear tires will still break loose a bit. McLaren has not tuned the electronics for poseurs. Oh, and we didn’t bother testing the launch control.
7. You spend a lot of time at the gas pump
2015 McLaren 650S Spider At Gas Station
Between full-throttle blasts and stop-and-go Woodward traffic, we burned through a lot of 93-octane fuel. Though the EPA says the 2015 McLaren 650S Spider can average 16/22 mpg (city/highway), the trip computer reported just 8 mpg during our loan (including lots of Woodward Dream Cruise stop-and-go). It's a green car in terms of color only.
8. Ignore Woodward Dream Cruise demands for burnouts
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Driver View
We’re not sure burnouts are even possible, given the car’s rich banquet of electronic nannies. Err, torque-braking a McLaren? Lift off the brake pedal after attempting such an exercise and you’ll probably take out the 10 or 15 cars ahead of you. “Rev it up” is another matter. This requires an awkward twist of the right elbow to “shift” to neutral and blip the throttle pedal. Don’t forget to switch the transmission from automatic to manual mode; otherwise you’ll be limited to a sonically unimpressive 4,000 rpm in neutral.
9. There's only one thing people ask you
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Exhaust
"What's the top speed?" "How fast have you taken it?" "What does your speedometer go up to?" Never mind the fact that we'll never even approach the 204-mph terminal velocity or the fact that this car's 10.6-second quarter-mile run is a far more impressive stat, strangers mostly only ask about top speed. Few even want to know how much horsepower it makes or what kind of engine's under the small glass cover.
10. Two things, actually
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Front Three Quarter
Price. This question comes either from those who have figured out that you’re not the owner or from those who think you’re the owner and don’t care. Both these groups are the same people who take your photo without asking first.

2015 McLaren 650S Spider Specifications

On Sale: Now
Price: $288,600/$341,390 (base/as-tested)
Engine: 3.8-liter twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/641 hp @ 7,250 rpm, 500 lb-ft @ 6,000 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Layout: 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, RWD convertible
EPA Mileage: 16/22 mpg (city/hwy)
Suspension F/R: Control arms, coil springs/control arms, coil springs
Brakes: Carbon-ceramic discs
Tires F/R: 235/35R-19 / 305/40R-30 Pirelli Trofeo R
L x W x H: 177.6 x 82.4 x 47.4 in
Wheelbase: 105.1 in
Headroom: 37.6-38.4 in
Legroom: 44.2 in
Shoulder Room: 53.0 in
Cargo Room (front): 5.0 cu ft
Weight: 3,250 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: 42/58
0-60 MPH: 2.9 sec
1/4-Mile: 10.6 sec @ 138 mph
Top Speed: 204 mph
Corvette Z06 Vs McLaren 650S Spider 21
My, oh my, what spoiled little brats we have become. Seems it was only yesterday when I was shaking my head in reverence and amazement at the 1984 Porsche 930 Turbo, a whale-tailed thoroughbred cranking out a mind-bending 330 horsepower and capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in—brace for hyperspace!—under 5 seconds! I remember the collective awe. “Well, pardner,” we’d say, “a man cain’t go no faster’n that.”
Today, even the most blasé auto shopper can find a freaking Hyundai that delivers 348 hp and do so for a price in adjusted dollars that makes the 930 Turbo look like it was crafted entirely out of Beluga caviar. Spoiled? To gain a car guy’s undivided attention these days, you better show up with at least 500 horses under the hood. No, no, scratch that; I’m certain I just heard a yawn from the back row. OK, let’s make it 600 hp. No, 600 hp plus.
Corvette Z06 Vs McLaren 650S Spider 07
Behold the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and the McLaren 650S Spider. These two rear-drive, V-8-powered ultra buggies make power like a Third World dictator with a finger in the toaster, some 650 horses for the ’Vette and 641 hp for the McLaren. Both can mutate your genes under full throttle. With the standard manual transmission, the ’Vette does 0 to 60 mph in a mere 3.2 seconds. The McLaren 650S Spider needs just 2.9 seconds flat. Yet in execution and character, the two machines are as different as John Boehner and Lady Gaga. The Chevrolet Corvette Z06’s pushrod V-8 is big (6.2 liters), supercharged, and mounted up front. The McLaren’s DOHC 32-valve unit is small (3.8 liters), turbocharged, and sits right behind the people part of the car. The Z06’s V-8 mates with a seven-speed manual transmission (an eight-speed automatic is also available); the 650S uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Chevy has a pop-out carbon-fiber targa top; the McLaren has a power-folding aluminum convertible top. One car is red; the other is orange. See? This is complicated stuff here.
Corvette Z06 Vs McLaren 650S Spider 01

Two ways to get your V-8: twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter amidships in the 650S or supercharged 6.2-liter up front in the Z06.
Eager to revel in these two vastly disparate approaches to warp speed, we fell back on two of our favorite words: road trip. West Coast editor Michael Jordan and I fired up and turned east from L.A. toward the desert surrounding Palm Springs and Chuckwalla Valley Raceway beyond. Naturally, we endured a deep and abiding sadness thinking of our less fortunate colleagues left behind at their drab computer screens.
On the road, the new C7 Z06 feels immediately comfortable and secure—like a Corvette, in other words. At your fingertips is every modern convenience, including refrigerated leather-upholstered seats, a large video screen for navi­­gation among other things, and an excellent head-up display that can clearly and logically showcase the car’s speed, engine rpm, and more on the windshield in front of you. In Tour mode, the standard Magnetic Ride dampers help the car flow graciously over broken pavement. The action of the stubby shift lever is neat and crisply precise, working in concert with a clutch pedal that’s unbelievably sweet and undemanding given the 650 lb-ft of torque it has to manage. Sure, I knew I was driving a sports car with a rear end as wide as a movie screen, but the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 doesn’t feel bigger than a standard C7. It’s easy to drive, relaxed—a real charmer.
Corvette Z06 Vs. McLaren 650S Spider 06
Then I flattened the gas pedal. And my world  …  changed. A certain lower abdominal aperture instantly hung out a sign that said, “We’re closed.” My ears fainted. Passing trees melted. Distant farmhouses flew at me as if hurled by Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw. The Z06’s epic LT4 engine evokes all sorts of acceleration comparisons: aircraft-carrier catapult shots, missile launches, paparazzi catching sight of Charlie Sheen. None of them does it justice. This is a burst of speed that’s sudden and fierce. Unless you regularly fall out of the top bunk bed, you almost can’t believe it’s possible.
The character change in the Chevrolet LT4 V-8 from mild to wild is nothing less than shocking. Plant your right foot, and the normally subdued exhaust note goes full Krakatoa, hammering to the 6,600-rpm redline with delicious ease and threatening to shatter not only nearby windows but also the ego of any Porsche drivers within earshot. On a long stretch of empty desert road, you’re pulling away from most light aircraft overhead even when you have three more gears to go. Speed this monumental tends to make one slightly antisocial; you’re freakish, an untouchable wild man.
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Rear End
And now for something completely different. Approaching the McLaren 650S Spider, I could almost swear I heard it speaking to me. “You see, Arthur my boy, here at McLaren, being Formula 1 specialists—not to mention being, well, British—we have our own rather unique ways of manufacturing motor cars.” And so they do. Though the 650S is every bit as fast and sensational as the Z06, and likewise relies upon four tires and a steering wheel, it goes about the business of speed with a flavor that’s as different from the Corvette as chalk and cheese, as they say over there.
The key dissimilarity, of course, is that the McLaren wears its V-8 amidships, right behind the “al-you-minium” folding roof. The difference hits home the moment you crank yourself under the upraised scissor door and down into the single-piece molded-carbon driver’s seat. (More conventional seats are optional.) Instantly, I felt way out and in front of the car. The view is panoramic; the short nose drops away so sharply you almost don’t see it. It’s like sitting in the cockpit of an F-16 fighter plane. The Z06 makes you feel as if you’re at the back of a locomotive, hanging your head out of the window of the cab and pouring on the coal. In the Corvette, you’re always aware of that hulking mill laid out in front of you, while the McLaren puts nothing ahead of you but glass and a little luggage bin in front of your feet.
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Rear Three Quarter In Motion
The McLaren seems more austere inside. True enough, the dash includes a central video screen with touch controls for navigation and stereo sound just like the Corvette, but there are fewer displays and not as many buttons and gizmos to play with. The materials are sumptuous, however, with stitched suede-like Alcantara for the dash, the cabin pillars, and the rim of the steering wheel, plus glossy carbon-fiber trim inserts all around. While the Z06 seems like a car you could easily take on a weekend getaway, thanks to conventional doors and usable luggage space under the rear hatch, the 650S feels more mission-specific. It’s way more difficult to enter (if you’re “large,” forget it) and more intimate once you slide into your seat, as if it’s a machine crafted purely for entertaining the driver and passenger. As far as luggage goes, you can’t really go anywhere overnight unless you’re content to adopt that strung-out screenwriter look, as if you’d been wearing the same clothes for a week.
Corvette Z06 Vs McLaren 650S Spider 23
Drive the McLaren even a short distance, though, and you’ll probably never want to stop for sleep anyway. The 650S feels more linear in power delivery—a climbing rocket versus a dropping bomb—but it blows you away just the same. Unlike many turbo engines, which tend to have a muted exhaust note, the McLaren’s V-8 with its flat-plane crankshaft emits a fantastic, electrifying racket. (That the engine is situated right behind your brain doesn’t hurt.) Adding to the fever is the near-instantaneous bang-bang-bang of the car’s dual-clutch transmission. With your feet wedged into the narrow footwell, fingers squeezing off upshifts and downshifts, and 8,500 revs wailing behind your ears, you can almost convince yourself you’re driving a single-seat racing car. Drop the power-operated convertible top, and the furious whirl of air through the cockpit at high speed heightens the sensation. Pull over to park after a brisk drive, and you half expect to run into your team manager.
Enjoyable as both these cars are on public roads, the Corvette and McLaren are just too fast to exploit fully without making a guest appearance on “Cops.” Our fix: the outstanding 2.7-mile circuit at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, which is far off in the Mojave Desert east of Palm Springs. No stop signs, no speed limits.
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Front End

In corners, McLaren’s Brake Steer system applies precise braking force to the inside rear wheel for max traction and balance.
I hit the track in the McLaren and … damn. This car is just so brilliant. With the engine’s weight behind you, the front tires feel light in your hands, a sensation that’s reinforced by unusually responsive steering that tickles your fingerprints with tarmac info. It’s easy to place the rubber right where you want it. That said, I was initially surprised at the amount of understeer—even with the handling and powertrain controls both set to Track mode. By design, a mid-engine car is meant to more easily rotate about the mass that is centralized in the chassis, yet McLaren has biased the 650S toward forgiving front-end push rather than playful oversteer (which requires a more skilled pilot at the helm). Probably this is the right call for most McLaren buyers. Sure, if provoked with a stab of throttle or a sudden mid-corner lift, the rear of car will step out, but even then—and even in Track mode—a safety net of stability control activates to prevent unintended pirouettes.
2015 McLaren 650S Spider Cockpit
Did I mention the McLaren’s brakes? They’re awesome. Carbon-ceramic rotors as big as sombreros. Apparently, you know when they’re properly bedded-in (and properly used) when a thin film of white ash reveals itself on the leading edge of the pads. (Look, there it is.) Again and again I pounded on the left pedal while setting up for corners, and never—not once, not even after five straight hot laps—did the binders fade or otherwise shrink from delivering maximum stopping power. Did I mention this company builds Formula 1 racing cars?
You’ll never forget all that when lapping the 650S. The V-8, designed and built by the renowned wizards at Ricardo, a legendary name in British automotive engineering, is a Fabergé egg that makes stupendous horsepower. That’s how elegant and sophisticated and wonderful it is. The car’s structure, built around an F1-like carbon-fiber tub, never quivers, even with the top retracted. (The 650S was designed from the get-go as a Spider.) The track experience? Well, compared to a multimillion-dollar Picasso, the McLaren’s $351,935 as-tested sticker almost seems cheap for a masterpiece.
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Front Three Quarter In Motion
Which is not to say that the Z06 doesn’t also qualify as modern art, even at $266,370 less. It’s for this car that “OMG” was created. Driving this machine on the racetrack is like strapping onto a great white shark that hasn’t eaten in a month. And it was on a back straight at Chuckwalla when I first went to full throttle that the feeding frenzy began.
Almost instantly, the supercharger was twirling at 20,000 rpm, the direct injection hosed fuel into cylinders that compressed at a 10:1 ratio, and sparks did fly. What awesome controlled chaos! What a sound! But you know what? For all its fearsomeness, the race-bred Chevy V-8 is flexible and smooth and winds out to its redline with an almost childlike joy. And while I hear the eight-speed automatic is the quicker way to go, the manual transmission is definitely the choice if you’re looking to exit the circuit wearing the goofiest grin. The seven-speed is darn near perfect. There’s a built-in rev-matching system for downshifts, but I never even triggered the special paddles behind the rim of the steering wheel because heel-and-toeing myself was just too much fun.
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Cockpit
Unlike the McLaren, the Z06 will happily swing its rear out under hard throttle in Track mode. Oh, yes sirree— super-sticky 335/25R-20 Michelin Pilot Super Sport rear tires be damned. But there are still some electronics waiting at the end to save the day, and you have to be stupid with the gas to do it. Mostly what you notice is how easy the Z06 is to drive fast. Yes, it feels bigger and bulkier than the McLaren (it’s about 300 pounds heavier), but there’s no mistaking the Z06’s track-bred DNA. Chevy designed it right in conjunction with the Pratt & Miller racing team, which campaigns the Corvette C7.R in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship. Thus you find cutting-edge bits of hardware such as a carbon-fiber hood, titanium intake valves and con rods, 14.6-inch front and 14.4-inch rear Brembo brakes (larger ceramic binders are available with the Z07 performance package), a dry-sump oil system, and an adjustable rear spoiler. And with its aluminum structure, the Z06 is so stout that even in convertible guise it needs no additional bracing.
In corners the Z06 is simply devastating. I found myself simply rolling the huge front meats onto my desired line and hanging on for dear life. Chuckwalla has lots of long, long late-apex turns. After a particularly fast one, I looked down quickly at the lateral-acceleration meter on the head-up display: 1.25 g. Oh, no wonder my gallbladder seems to have exited my body and now is in the passenger seat. Forget Nautilus machines; here’s a conditioning routine for sculpting every fiber of your body and your soul.
Corvette Z06 Vs McLaren 650S Spider 02
Driving back to Los Angeles, the light fading in tempo with my slowly stabilizing adrenaline, I looked out from the cockpit of the McLaren 650S at the Corvette Z06 rumbling along in the next lane. Front-engine? Mid-engine? Supercharged? Turbocharged? Dual-clutch shifter or manual?
Without a moment’s hesitation came the answer: yes.

2015 McLaren 650S Spider Specifications

Price: $283,925/$351,935 (base/as tested)
Engine: 3.8L, twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/641 hp @ 7,250 rpm, 500 lb-ft @ 6,000 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
Layout: 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: 16/22 mpg city/hwy
Suspension F/R: Control arms, leaf spring/control arms, leaf spring
Brakes F/R: Vented carbon-ceramic discs
Tires F/R: 235/35R-19 / 305/30R-20 Pirelli P Zero Corsa
L x W x H: 177.6 x 82.4 x 47.4 in
Wheelbase: 105.1 in
Weight: 3,236 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: 42/58%
0-60 mph: 2.9 sec
¼ Mile: 10.6 sec @ 138 mph
Top Speed: 204 mph

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Specifications

Price: $78,995/$85,565 (base/as tested)
Engine: 6.2-liter, supercharged OHV 16-valve V-8/650 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 650 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed manual
Layout: 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: 15/22 mpg city/hwy
Suspension F/R: Control arms, coil springs/control arms, coil springs
Brakes F/R: Vented discs
Tires F/R: 285/30R-19 / 335/25R-20 Michelin Pilot Super Sport
L x W x H: 176.9 x 77.1 x 48.6 in
Wheelbase: 106.7 in
Weight: 3,524 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: 51/49%
0-60 mph: 3.2 sec
¼ Mile: 11.3 sec @ 126.2 mph
Top Speed: 199 mph
2015 Mclaren 650S Front Three Quarter Autocross
Monterey, CALIFORNIA — So you're riding the logging flume at the amusement park, and you make that final steep plunge down into the big pool. The log hits the still water, a colossal spray of cool droplets cascades for the next second or so, and you think, "You know, I'd like to ride this thing again."
And this is exactly the feeling that the 2015 McLaren 650S is meant to give you.
Chris Goodwin, McLaren Automotive's chief test driver, says, "We've put everything we learned in the development of the McLaren P1 into improving the McLaren MP4-12C and producing this new car. Just like the McLaren P1, we want the 2015 650S to make every drive so special that when you put the car away at the end of the day, you'll want one more drive, one more lap."

Welcome to the track

The little bit of time before first practice at the track always has a special magic. Everything is quiet, the cars are lined up in pit lane, and you can sense the promise of the day to come. And that's what we're feeling as we see eight, brand-new examples of the 2015 McLaren 650S lined up in pit lane at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The thick morning fog drifts in wetly from Monterey Bay, soaking the pavement and leaving the cars dripping with moisture.
While the 650S looks slightly different than the 12C, it still doesn't grab you around the throat. It's essentially the 2011 McLaren MP4-12C, only with the swoosh shape from the McLaren logo added as styling flourishes. Even so, we're taken with the range of bodywork colors that are so brightly 1970s, a time when McLaren's Can-Am sports cars were the fastest racing cars in the world.
If you have the right kind of eyes, you can see how resolutely functional the McLaren 650S is. The new front aero splitter and the reshaped front deck add aerodynamic downforce. The big front ducts cool the new carbon-ceramic brakes, while the ducts in the rear quarter panels manage the cooling of the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8, which now develops about ten percent more power, some 641 hp @ 7250 rpm and 500 lb-ft of torque @ 6000 rpm.

Light this candle!

You'll probably lead with your right foot as you step into the cockpit, then slide across the tall, wide sill of the 650S's rigid yet lightweight carbon-fiber chassis tub. Since you'll have your right foot heavily on the gas for most of the day to come, you might as well get used to it now.
When you fire up the McLaren M838T V-8, this engine with its flat-plane crankshaft and twin IHI turbos has more presence than an Audi V-8, yet it never tries to overpower you like a Ferrari V-8. And we're prepared to say that 641 hp should be enough for anybody. This is, after all, about the same amount of power that Denis Hulme had in his McLaren M8D's 6.7-liter Chevy V-8 while racing in the 1970 Can-Am.
The M838T comes alive in a rush of power, combining the drivability of a broad rpm band of gradually increasing torque with the satisfying reward of a power peak at 7250 rpm. We made just one pass from a standstill to extreme speed with the 3050-lb 650S coupe (we didn't even engage the launch control), and the combination of the twin-turbo V-8 and quick-shifting, seven-speed, dual-clutch Graziano transmission got us to the crest of the hill in Turn 1 so quickly that we actually felt lightheaded. (Love the way the turbo V-8 pops between shifts in Sport mode just like a racing engine.)
As we lined up on the racing line toward the power poles on the other side of the hill at Turn 1 and then plunged down toward the braking markers for 180-degree Turn 2, we felt pretty good that the McLaren 650S carries some pretty good brakes as standard equipment. There are15.5-inch carbon-ceramic rotors with six-piston calipers up front and 15.0-in carbon-ceramic rotors with four-piston calipers in the rear. Plus the 650S's tires are reassuring as well, since they are 235/35R-19 front and 305/30R-20 rear Pirelli PZero Corsas.
Actually, we were pretty nervous about the carbon rotors at first, because such brakes often bite abruptly and are hard to modulate. So imagine our relief to find that the brakes engaged with complete predictability and then delivered a steady increase in stopping power with pressure from our foot rather than just the stroke of the pedal (which is the way it's done in racing machinery).

The drive-it-up, drive-it-back land speed record

The McLaren guys are really proud of the way they have toughened up the 650S in comparison to the MP4-12C. They're eager to tell you that there's 24 percent more overall downforce at 160 mph, spring rates are increased 22 percent in front and 37 percent in the rear, the adaptive dampers have been firmed up (notably in Sport mode), and the wheel alignment has changed for more precise steering. Even the stability control is more permissive, so it no longer intrudes as if legendary McLaren director Ron Dennis (a former racing mechanic) were barking at you over the intercom in your helmet.
Of course, we'll bet you a dime that you won't really feel the difference. We drove the 2015 McLaren 650S over Laureles Grade and back (not far, but far enough), and found it even more poised and supple at civilian speed than we remember from putting a couple hundred miles on the McLaren MP4-12C in metropolitan Los Angeles. This is an exotic that's great to drive at all speeds, not just top speed.
Part of the secret is McLaren's system for linking all four electronically controlled hydraulic dampers to control ride motions. As a result, the ride can be comfortable in a straight line, and then body control can be delivered instantly in the corners to minimize pitch and roll. As a result, there's no need for the stiff, track-specific anti-roll bars that inevitably degrade ride quality. But the rest of the secret is even simpler, as it lies in a test conducted during chassis development that was first conceived by F1-car designer Gordon Murray back in the days of the McLaren F1 exotic car.
As McLaren Automotive test driver Chris Goodwin explains, every McLaren is tested at the high-speed oval at Nardo in Italy, just like a lot of cars from other companies. But McLaren drives its car to Nardo over public roads -- across the Midlands in England, under the English Channel, through France, over the Alps, and then down the length of Italy. There's the usual high-speed durability testing on the big 7.8-mile oval at Nardo, and then McLaren drives the car back to Woking. Call it 3000 miles there and back on the road, then 5000 miles of track testing in between. Repeat as required.

Track day special

We can't quantify for you the improvement in track speed that the McLaren 650S might represent over the 12C, but we will tell you that this is a great, great car on the track. As you whistle into the corners, the brakes just settle the car, so there's none of that unseemly chassis pitch that can make it feel as if the engine behind you is trying to climb onto your shoulders. Right away, you look over at the apex of the corner and then steer the car through in an unwavering arc while squeezing on the power. You're always thinking forward, forward, as the car moves up the road without wasting time.
Even better, the McLaren 650S makes all this available to everyone, not just experts. There are three different settings for the powertrain and three different grades of chassis control, yet you always find yourself using the same techniques, whether you're going fast or slow. This gives you the confidence to constantly improve your driving instead of simply reaching a plateau of acceptable fear.
Your obedient servant cruised around in the transmission's automatic mode, just as professional sports-car racer David Donohue recommends (it helps you concentrate a bit more on driving, he says). Then Skip Barber school instructor Mike Miller (a former hotshoe in Formula Atlantic), gave us a full-throttle ride in Track mode while working the racing-type pull-push shift paddles, and he told us the McLaren 650S can lap Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca some 2 seconds per lap quicker than a Ferrari 458 Italia prepared for Ferrari Challenge competition. And both of us had enough attention in reserve to hold a conversation during our respective laps, which is always the mark of a great car.

Hard work is the McLaren Way

There are a lot of little things that make the 2015 McLaren 650S different from the 12C, but one thing that has made the real difference is simple hard work. It's the McLaren way. "It's like McLaren F1," Goodwin says. "Sometimes the team doesn't have the best car at the beginning of the season. But then they work on it every week and every race. And in the end, it's usually the best car."
The McLaren 650S doesn't look sexy enough to turn the heads of those who find their mid-engine ideal in the Ferrari 458 Italia or Lamborghini Huracan. Others will prefer the friendly, stylish practicality of the Audi R8. And we're okay with this.
But we prefer the 2015 McLaren 650S. It's a car that you buy for yourself, not for the people who might see you. When you're in the McLaren 650S, every outing behind the wheel invites you to improve your skills and become a member of that very select group which can really drive. You're a professional, not a prima donna.
And we have to admit that while waiting at the airport gate for the flight which would take us home from Monterey, we couldn't help but turn to crazy Jonny (our colleague) and say, "You know, I'd like to drive another lap in that car, wouldn't you?"

2015 McLaren 650S Coupe

Base Price $265,500
On Sale Now
Engine 3.8L, twin-turbo DOHC V-8
Power 641 hp @ 7250 rpm
Torque 500 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Drive rear wheel
Steering Hydraulically assisted rack-and-pinion
Front suspension Unequal-length control arms, coil springs
Rear suspension Unequal-length control arms, coil springs
Brakes Ventilated carbon-ceramic discs, ABS
Tires 235/35R-19 front, 305/30R-10 rear Pirelli PZero Racing Corsa MC1
L x W x H 177.6 x 75.1 x 47.2 in
Wheelbase 105.1 in
Track F/R 65.2/62.3 in
Trunk capacity 5.1 cu ft
0-60 mph 2.9 sec
¼ -mile 10.5 sec @ 139 mph
Top speed 207 mph
Fuel mpg 15/22/18 City/Highway/Combined (est.)
2015 Mclaren 650S Spider Front Three Quarters In Motion 03
McLaren is releasing new models at an astonishing rate. In 2011, the brand entered the sports car fray with the remarkably competent but visually bland MP4 12C. One year later, the even more dynamic 12C Spider was added. In 2013, the P1 supercar debuted to high acclaim and was an immediate sellout. For 2014, the news is the 650S, which replaces the MP4 12C. Now, already, we have a replacement for the 12C. Compared to its predecessor, the 650S looks funkier, boasts a torquier and more powerful engine, is better equipped, and it's even more fun to drive.
All McLarens share the same basic DNA. Among the key common components are the carbon-fiber chassis and cabin tub, a double-wishbone suspension, a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8, a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and the unique cockpit layout featuring a narrow center stack and A/C controls located on the door panels. For the 650S, the engine output increased from 616 hp at 7500 rpm to 641 hp at 7250 rpm. At the same time, maximum torque climbed from 443 lb-ft at 7000 rpm to 500 lb-ft at 6000 rpm. While other manufacturers attempt to keep the peak twist action constant over several thousand rpm, McLaren prefers a progressively rising torque curve for enhanced emotion. To prepare the M838T engine for the extra load, it received new pistons, cylinder heads, cam profiles, and exhaust valves. The exhaust system was redesigned for reduced backpressure and a more aggressive soundtrack. Part-throttle upshifts are now accompanied by a brief cylinder cut out for that magic blat-blat noise.
There are very few sports cars at any price that can match the 650S for acceleration and top speed. Both models—the coupe listed at $265,500 and the $280,225 Spider—will accelerate in 2.9 seconds from 0 to 60 mph. The hardtop version takes a mere 5.7 seconds to beam itself from a standing start to 100 mph, and it will hit the 300 kph mark (188 mph) after only 25.4 seconds. The top speed is a claimed 207 mph. The 2868-pound (dry weight) two-seater compresses space and time in a manner reminiscent of the hybrid P1, which responds to full-throttle orders with a mighty e-boost urge. Up to 125 mph, nothing this side of a Bugatti Veyron (and the P1/LaFerrari/918 Spyder threesome) can match or beat the 650S, at least not when official performance figures are the yardstick to go by.
Predictably, the dynamic virtues of the new McLaren are not restricted to the more powerful engine. Improvements were also made in the chassis department, where the front springs are now 22 percent stiffer and the rears have been firmed up by 37 percent. At the same time, the damper setting in Normal mode is now a little softer so that the ride comfort remains reasonably compliant. But since the dampers cannot be decoupled, Ferrari-style, the setup automatically goes from hard to harsh as you twist the DNA selector knob to Sport and then to Track. On the circuit, this is perfectly okay. But on undulating two-lane roads, you have your hands full making recurrent small corrections at the wheel because the directional stability is frequently dented by lateral deflections. That's the bad news. The good news concerns the even stronger grip, which makes turn-in at the limit so much more confidence inspiring. The steering, too, feels now more responsive, more progressive, more alive. Although the handling balance can be easily tweaked by adjusting the torque flow, roadholding remains tenacious all the way to the breakaway zone, where steering, throttle, and tires modulate the flight path.
Pirelli developed a special rubber compound for the P Zero Corsa tires fitted to the 650S. The stuff sticks like licorice on dry tarmac, but in the wet the shaved tread pattern is bound to be at odds with puddles and aquaplaning grooves. Through the second-gear corners of the Ascari circuit, there was always enough oomph on tap to kick the car's rear end into screeching smoke mode. With increasing enthusiasm, we flicked our way through the three distinctly different dynamic settings. Normal is comfort-oriented, safe and stable, but you can still push the 650S relatively close to its limit, be it mild understeer or beginning oversteer. Sport ups the ante, calls for quicker reflexes and more attention, occasionally requiring a flick at the wheel or brief lift off. Then there is Track, which permits unexpectedly adventurous cornering attitudes—after all, stability control is still active, although only just. Which is why Track will send you into a veritably panoramic spin if you're not on the case throughout the bend, from entry to apex to exit.
It's a cool car, the new 650S, but patience and composure are not its prime strengths. Instead, the McLaren cultivates a more extroverted stance, a more urgent delivery of power and torque, a more intense sequence of input and response, a more involving interaction between man and machine. Take, for instance, the gearbox, which blends rapid-fire downshifts which very physical kick-in-the-butt upshifts. Brace yourself for the brake response that grabs the carbon-ceramic discs with the vigor of a hungry snapping turtle. Relish the ground-effects chassis, which increases downforce by 24 percent at 150 mph, making the car carve through angst-inducing high-speed curves with breathless poise and awesome precision. Finally, check out the adaptive aerodynamics. On the motorway, the rear spoiler will fold flat at speed, providing the same DRS effect as Woking's F1 racer. When driving fast over a crest, the tail rudder will momentarily rise to generate more downforce. Under full deceleration, the blade turns into an almost vertical aero brake.
About 25 percent of the parts in the 650S are modified or redesigned. The most obvious visual changes concern the P1-inspired front end, the more neatly integrated side blades, and the more purposeful rear end treatment. The wheels, the rocker panels, and the optional carbon-fiber kits (exterior and interior) are also new. With the exception of the more readable in-dash monitor and the extra-cost lightweight race buckets, the cockpit remains virtually unchanged. That means owners must continue to live with the extra-wide sills that impair entry and exit, the tight cabin dimensions, and with the mediocre ergonomics. Driver assistance systems are still conspicuous by their absence, as is a head-up display, and a single driving mode selector like the manettino fitted to every Ferrari. On the credit side, we note the additional standard equipment, which now includes carbon-ceramic brakes, LED headlights, full Alcantara or leather trim, navigation, and satellite radio. Options include racing seats, a backup camera, a power-adjustable steering column, and carbon-fiber interior trim.
The 650S costs about ten percent more than the MC12. It now falls about halfway between a Ferrari 458 and the F12, it is notably more expensive than a fully loaded 911 Turbo S, and it ranks about on par with the new Lamborghini Huracan. Furthermore, the McLaren engine doesn't sound as sexy as the Lambo V-10, it lacks the Porsche's all-wheel drive foul-weather talent, and it can't match the Italia for space efficiency and ergonomic finesse. But the face-lifted Brit does outperform the big name competition with surprising ease, its handling could not be more beautifully balanced, and the entertainment value deserves ten out of ten points on our let's-do-it-again scale.

2015 McLaren 650S

On sale Now
Base price $265,500/$280,225 (coupe, Spider)
Engine 3.8-liter V-8 twin turbo
Power 641 hp @ 7250 rpm
Torque 500 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive Rear-wheel
Weight 2868 lbs (coupe, dry weight)
Wheels 19 x 8.5 in front, 20 x 11 in rear
Tires 235/35R19 front, 305/30R20 rear Pirelli P Zero Corsa
0-60 mph 2.9 seconds
0-100 mph 5.7 seconds
¼ mile 10.5 seconds
McLaren 560S Spider Al Sahara 79 By MSO Front Three Quarter
The ultra-wealthy over in the Middle East have a certain flair for the bespoke, and McLaren is meeting that demand with yet another MSO-developed 650S supercar. Making its premiere at the Dubai International Motor Show, the McLaren 650S Spider Al Sahara 79 is available exclusively to customers in the Middle East.
Mclaren 650S Front Three Quarter
A new report from Autocar outlines the future of the McLaren 650S. Codenamed the McLaren P14, the replacement for the supercar from Woking will outgun and outrun the new Ferrari 488 GTB, and bring the performance benchmark right up to the threshold of the current range-topping McLaren 675LT.
Mclaren 675lt Wheel Teaser
Fans of the iconic McLaren F1 GTR “Longtail” will see the LT name resurrected, with the confirmation that the McLaren 675LT will be unveiled at the 2015 Geneva auto show. Billed as a lighter, faster, more raw version of the 650S coupe, the McLaren 675LT will sit atop the British supercar maker’s newly minted Super Series range.

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2015 McLaren 650S
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2015 Mclaren 650S Specifications

Quick Glance:
3.8L V8Engine
641 hp @ 7250rpm
500 ft lb of torque @ 6000rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front (optional)
  • Stabilizer Rear (optional)
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player (optional)
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation
Unlimited miles / 36 months
Unlimited miles / 36 months
Unlimited miles / 36 months
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength
IIHS Front Small Overlap

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