The McLaren 650S is still fast and handsome but its basic shape and design is rooted in the MP4-12C launched back in 2011, making it a dinosaur compared to its rivals. That's all set to change at the Geneva Motor Show in March, when a new Super Series model launches. We don't know what it looks like yet, but we do know it will make use of a new carbon tub, run with a more efficient aerodynamics package, and pack in a drift mode. Excited yet?
One of the biggest calling cards to any McLaren is the clever adaptive chassis system, which allows the character of the car to be altered with the flick of a switch. The system has been given a comprehensive makeover for 2017, using 12 more sensors than previous iterations to provide more information about what each wheel is doing. This information is fed to the central Optimal Controller algorithm, which adjusts the suspension setup accordingly.
If the adaptive chassis is the greatest strength of McLaren cars, it has also been criticized for making them feel a bit disconnected. It doesn't help that turning off traction control involved pressing three buttons, twisting two knobs and hoping the wind was blowing in the right direction. That seems set to change with Variable Drift Control, which will allow the driver to fine-tune the amount of Stability Control intervention through the central touchscreen.
"Proactive Chassis Control II generates a significant amount of additional grip, but not at the expense of the balance and feel of the car," says Mark Vinnels, Executive Director of Product Development at McLaren. "The depth and breadth of handling precision and ride comfort in combination with the peerless level of driver involvement in the second-generation McLaren Super Series is simply extraordinary."
At the core of the new Super Series is a new carbon tub, dubbed Monocage II. Even though it's stiffer than before, the new Super Series should achieve a dry weight of just 1,283 kg (2,829 lb) – 18 kg (40 lb) lighter than an equivalent-spec 650S, already among the lightest cars in class. The new cage also allows for a wider cabin and lower door sill, while visibility should also be better than before. While visibility has never been a problem for cars made in Woking, anyone who's tried to gracefully enter or exit a Super Series car will appreciate the redesigned sills.
Finally, the new McLaren Super Series will be a much smarter aerodynamic package than the 650S, which already runs with a whole range of clever active aero tricks. An active rear wing features again, and air ducts running along the doors will more effectively channel air to the radiators at the rear, while also creating extra downforce at the rear diffuser.
Rounding out what has been a busy few weeks for McLaren is the announcement of an engine partnership with BMW. The project is trying to deliver greater specific outputs from compact engines, all the while reducing current CO2 emission levels. Given the partnership between BMW and McLaren delivered the glorious V12 in the McLaren F1, we can't wait to see what the relationship produces.
The new Super Series will launch at the Geneva Motor Show in March, where New Atlas will be on the ground to cover all the action.