New McLaren 650S is a Faster, Better Handling Version of 12C with P1 Face

McLaren has come out with official information on its new 650S Coupe and Spider models ahead of their first public outing at the Geneva Motor Show next month. For all intents and purposes, the 650S is a facelifted version of the 12C with about 25 percent different parts. However, the later will continue to live on for as long as there’s demand for it as a more affordable model in McLaren’s range.

We don’t know how future owners of the already sold-out P1 will feel about McLaren’s decision to craft the hybrid supercar’s face on the 650S, including the LED headlamps, but that’s the most significant change on the outside compared to the 12C.

Other cosmetic changes oninclude the addition of ‘door blades’, tweaked Active aerodynamics, bigger side vents for engine cooling, and new alloy wheels fitted with Pirelli P Zero Corsa performance tires. McLaren states that, while the drag coefficient figure remains the same as on the 12C, the restyling helps increase downforce by 24 percent at 150mph (241 km/h).

“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.”

As for the interior, nothing really changed, as the only differences over the 12C are the standard Alcantara surfaces on the dashboard and seats and the addition of DAB digital radio (SIRIUS satellite radio in North America). On the options list, you’ll find P1-style racing seats featuring a fixed-carbon fiber back, an electric steering column adjustment assisting ingress and egress, a rear parking camera and extended carbon fiber trim package.

The 650S uses a modified version of the 12C’s 3.80liter bi-turbocharged V8 that gains 25hp and 78Nm (58 lb-ft), bringing the total to 641hp (650PS) and 678Nm (500 lb-ft) paired to a faster and better-controlled seven-speed dual clutch gearbox driving the rear wheels.

Compared to the 12C, McLaren says the 0-62mph (100km/h) time has dropped by 0.1 seconds to 3.0 seconds, while 0-125mph (201km/h) has improved by 0.5 seconds to 8.4 seconds.

Rounding out the performance updates are the stiffened spring rates, a new feature for the ProActive Chassis Control (PCC) suspension system that allows to adjust the ride and handling modes – Normal / Sport / Track – separately from the drivetrain, and tweaks to the ABS and ESP.

As you may have imagined, all these changes come at a cost, which in the case of the 650S, is about  £20,000 (around $41,800 / €30,500) more than the 12C in the UK, with the Coupe starting at t £195,000 and the Convertible with the retractable roof at £215,000. Prices for other regions and markets are to be announced.

By John Halas

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