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McLaren are on a real mission at the moment and after receiving rave reviews for the P1
hyper car, they've decided to inject some of its magic into the 12C to create this - the
new 650S.
We've come here to the Ascari race circuit in Southern Spain and we'll be driving it
at the track, but also out on the Ronda road. As you can imagine, I'm quite looking forward
to finding out what it's like.
Just weeks after its Geneva Motor Show debut, the 650S really moves the styling on from
the 12C. That new front end is inspired by the P1with the same LED lights and carbon
fibre front splitter, new air blades on the bottom of the doors that funnel air into the
side vents, while at the back, there's an optional carbon fibre bumper which is meant
to echo McLaren's GT3 car. Lightweight forged alloys, 19-inches at the front, 20-inches
at the rear an stickier Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres are now standard, as are the frankly
enormous carbon ceramic brake discs. It looks great too, especially with the striking new
aurora blue paint.
Now, there is quite a good reason that I'm starting here at the track. McLaren might
say it's not a stripped out special, but let me talk you through some of the performance
figures the 650S has to offer. The 3.8-litre twin-turbo engine has got new pistons and
cylinder heads, it's got more boost pressure for the twin turbos so it now produces 641bhp
and 768nm of torque.
To give you the kind of performance that offers, it does 0-62mph in just six-seconds flat,
an goes on to 207mph. It also does 0-100mph in just 5.7 seconds - .7 slower than the P1
which has significantly more power.
So, here we are in the pit-lane, let's go and find out what it's like.
The 650S is available as both a coupe and a spyder - that's the drop-top that we tried
around Ascari. The helmets were for our safety, but that also meant I couldn't hear much in
the cockpit.
It really does feel like 641 brake horse power. Everything happens so fast that you've just
got to try and keep up with it. The shift times for the gearbox, the seven-speed auto(matic),
have been improved even further and there's a cylinder cut system to make the exhaust
sound even louder in sport or track mode.
I'm in track mode at the moment for the powertrain and the gearbox, and it's the most extreme
mode there is. You really can feel how nailed down the car is to the road - it's so stable
at high speeds. Even when you're going through these tight corners, you just can't feel it
move around at all despite all that performance. It's really impressive.
Starting at the track was definitely the way to feel all those chassis changes at work,
but what's the 650S like on the road?
As we've already seen at Ascari, the 650S has some serious firepower. The performance
figures are intimidating. McLaren also say that here, driving on the road, it's even
more comfortable than a 12C. The engineers last night told me they did a lot of work
over 12-months working on the damping and they fitted new dampers which Chris Goodwin
told me are similar to the ones fitted to the P1 project. They allow for a stiffer side-wall
of tyre to be fitted and stiffer front and rear springs without any loss in ride-comfort.
The 650S is very refined for a car of this type and to increase the level of creature
comfort on the inside - although the cabin is very similar to the 12C - every 650S comes
with an Alcantara steering wheel, and Alcantara here on the dash and the roof lining.
The car we're driving has some optional leather trim, but I've seen one of the ones with Alcantara
and it looks fantastic. There is also the option of some bucket racing seats that are
completely made of carbon. They save about 15 kilos in weight, they're very similar to
the seats in the P1 and are really, really cracking - a must have option in my opinion.
But forgetting all that, what's the 650S like on the road? Well, the difference in performance
between this and a 12C is less pronounced here on the road - you can't quite feel the
extra power and that's mainly because it's so fast, the moments that you actually have
a spare road in front of you where you can actually release full-throttle, but make no
mistake, the 650S is a seriously quick car. The 12C Spyder was probably one of the quickest
cars I've ever driven on the road, and the 650S retains that same almighty acceleration.
As soon as you hear that turbo induction woosh and suck up above about 3-and-a-half thousand
RPM, it just disappears up the road.
It feels like the 650S has everything turned up ever so slightly, so there's more grip,
more noise, more power and more pace. The brakes are better than before and offer far
more natural feel. The steering is superb, but the car rarely feels playful - it's much
more of a serious driving tool.
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McLaren 650S review

1453 Folder Collection
hohoyao published on April 10, 2015
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