McLaren's 650S makes its North American debut in New York City
As the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) gets ready to wrap up this weekend, visitors still have a chance to see some of the auto world’s unique offerings for 2014. One boutique supercar manufacturer, however, chose an intimate space away from the cavernous halls of Manhattan’s Javits Center to show off its latest creations; the McLaren 650S Coupe and Spider.
Like Lamborghini, who held the North American debut of the Huracán at a private champagne event, McLaren chose an art space to showcase an Aurora Blue Coupe and a Tarocco orange Spider 650S to a select group of automotive journalists as part of the Big Apple’s auto show week. But rather than completely redesign the 650S, McLaren, the quiet yet talented UK firm with the F1 background, chose instead to focus and improve on critical elements like the engine, suspension, gearbox, wheels and various technological aspects.
First things first, let’s get the stylistic discussion out of the way. Yes, the 650S is very similar to the outgoing 12C … on the outside. With the exception of P1-inspired headlight details and a more dynamic presence, the 650S is near identical on the facade to its predecessor. The headlight design, if you look closely, rather cleverly incorporates McLaren’s boomerang-like logo into the LED component, which is in turn mirrored in the surrounding fender treatment. Other than that, the average Joe on the street won’t be able to tell the 650S from the 12C without doing some homework.
As we mentioned back in February, the 650S sports a similar, yet more powerful drivetrain than the 12C. The revised twin-turbo 3.8 liter V8 now makes 641 hp (650 PS) thanks to new pistons, revamped cylinder heads, new exhaust valves and reworked cam timing. These changes improve on the 12C’s horsepower by 25 hp but see torque figures increase significantly from 443 lb.ft (600 Nm) to 500 lb.ft (678 Nm). That escalation in twisting force can only make the car that much quicker when pulling out of corners and other inspired driving situations.
Performance figures put the 650S at 2.9 seconds for a run from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) for both the Coupe and Spider. Times to 160 km/h (100 mph) take only 5.7 seconds thanks to power enhancements, but also adjustments to the gearbox software that allows for even faster, sharper shifts than the 12C. Top speed for the Coupe is rated at 333 km/h (207 mph), with the convertible Spider just slightly slower at 329 km/h (204 mph).
McLaren’s ProActive Chassis Control (PCC) suspension system has also been enhanced and reworked in the 650S, as have the car’s dampers and springs. The supercar also now sports weight-saving alloy wheels, which helps shave 613 lb (278 kg) off the scale when compared to the 12C’s cast wheels.
For those with track aspirations, the 650S features something called "inertia push." In Track Mode, when the car is being driven at limits, the inertia push system captures built up kinetic energy, which in turn delivers a torque shot to the gearbox. What has to be an F1 trick means power is being delivered to the next gear before revs drop, subsequently reducing the amount of power loss between shifts and thus increasing acceleration times.
One other key, yet hidden, change to the 650S is the improved McLaren airbrake. According to the company, the new rear active wing "now works with a greater level of functionality, offering a greater degree of stability across a wider range of conditions." The wing now plays a more integral part in the complete driving experience, according to McLaren, than it did on the 12C.
McLaren’s North American representative says that the new car has met with such enthusiasm that the company had to retool and change out the production line from the 12C to the 650S, months ahead of the projected switch-over. This bit of unexpected production news speaks volumes to the outgoing model’s reputation and consumer faith in the new supercar.
The new 650S is priced out at US$265,000 for the Coupe, with the open-aired Spider likely taking another $20,000 to $30,000 from your wallet to acquire. The NYIAS event wraps up at the Javits Center this Sunday, April 27.