McLaren 650S

There are a lot of good things to be said about the McLaren MP4-12C. It is, after all, one of the most thoroughly capable supercars on the market, and it's served as a fitting launch pad for the new McLaren Automotive operation. What the 12C has never had, however, is an engaging name or a distinctive design. But the latter appears to be something Woking is out to fix with the new 650S.

Based on the 12C, the 650S incorporates a number of key improvements over its progenitor – some of which you can see and some of which you can't. The new front end takes its cues from the P1, with a better integrated splitter and LED headlamps, while the rear bumper takes its inspiration from the company's 12C GT3 racing model. The side intakes are new, and the rear wing has been optimized to help deliver 24-percent more downforce at speed. Five-spoke alloys (of curiously unspecified diameter) are wrapped in special Pirelli P Zero Corsa MC1 rubber.

As expected, underneath the revised sheetmetal sits a retuned version of McLaren's ubiquitous 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 now producing (as the name suggests) 650 metric horsepower (641 hp by our standards). The ProActive Chassis Control system has also been recalibrated and allows the driver to adjust suspension settings independent of engine response. McLaren has not released performance figures for the 650S, but you can expect the increased power and improved aero to give shave a tenth or two off the 0-60 time – enough to drop it below the 3-second mark.

The updated cabin is fitted with all the bells and whistles – from satellite radio and navigation to smartphone integration – and buyers will be able to opt for fixed carbon racing buckets, electric steering column adjustment, rear camera and more. Most crucially, the 650S will launch at next month's Geneva Motor Show in both coupe and hardtop convertible versions right from the get-go, ostensibly making this an apt replacement for the entire MP4-12C line. However, as you can see from the press release below, McLaren insists that it will continue offering the 12C alongside the 650S, at least for the time being. Assuming the premium for the upgraded model isn't too ludicrous, we can't imagine many buyers going for the older model though.
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McLAREN AUTOMOTIVE RELEASES FIRST IMAGES OF THE 650S COUPÉ AHEAD OF GENEVA REVEAL

- Designed and developed to give the enthusiast driver the ultimate in luxury, engagement and excitement
- The McLaren 650S will offer the widest breadth of capabilities of any supercar
- Coupé and Spider, with electrically retractable hardtop, to be available from Spring 2014 launch
- Joins McLaren's range of supercars above 12C, which continues on sale
- Uniquely enhanced active aerodynamics and ProActive Chassis Control systems optimise the capabilities and usability

McLaren Automotive will return to the International Geneva Motor Show this year with its fastest, most engaging, best equipped and most beautiful series-production supercar yet.

The McLaren 650S joins the range as an additional model alongside the 12C and sold-out McLaren P1™, and learns from both models as well as 50 years of competing in the highest levels of motorsport. Available as a fixed-head coupé or as a Spider, with a retractable folding hard top, the McLaren 650S promises to redefine the high performance supercar segment, and has been designed and developed to provide the ultimate in driver engagement on the road and on the race track.

The 650S badge designation refers to the power output – 650PS (641 bhp) – of the unique British-built McLaren M838T twin turbo V8 engine. 'S' stands for 'Sport', underlining the focus and developments made to handling, transmission, drivability and engagement. Performance figures will be confirmed ahead of the Geneva Show but will improve on the already rapid 12C which continues on sale.

The design is inspired by the McLaren P1™, previewing a new family design language. The front bumper gives the McLaren 650S a dramatic, yet clean appearance and sits below new LED headlamps which reflect a similar look to the McLaren P1™. The more integrated front splitter contributes to increased levels of downforce, giving a greater level of steering feeling and confidence to the driver on turn-in, while also adding to the agility and the car's handling balance. Unique door blades behind the front wheels direct air from the trailing edges of the front splitter, further benefiting front-end grip and vehicle balance.

The aerodynamic performance of the McLaren 650S is as efficient as the 12C, boasting the same drag coefficient figure, yet the air is being worked harder and more efficiently as it flows over, and through, the functional bodywork. At 150 mph, downforce levels are increased by 24 percent.

'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.'

Unique side intakes behind the dihedral doors feed large, efficiently packaged, radiators which help provide the cooling requirements of the mid-mounted, compact engine. A new design five-spoke lightweight forged '650S' alloy wheel is unique to the model, and are fitted with Pirelli P Zero™ Corsa tyres to offer optimised roadholding, handling and driver feedback – the bespoke 'MC1' branded tyres have been developed alongside the McLaren 650S by McLaren technology partner Pirelli, and offer strong performance in normal road conditions and on track.

The McLaren 650S builds on experience from success on the track, and groundbreaking technologies fitted to other McLaren models. Active aerodynamics, which feature on both the 12C and McLaren P1™, have been further developed and honed to ensure the ultimate performance and ability for the McLaren 650S. The McLaren Airbrake, originally fitted to the 12C and 12C Spider and designed to offer optimised levels of downforce on the rear of the car, now operates with a greater level of functionality providing increased stability. The newly developed system means the Airbrake deploys whenever the car senses extra downforce is advisable – rather than simply under braking or when manually operated in 'Aero' mode. Below the Airbrake, a distinctive rear three-piece bumper, similar to the GT3 racing version of the 12C, compliments the aerodynamic shaping of the McLaren 650S.

The pioneering ProActive Chassis Control (PCC) suspension system, developed by McLaren, has been further enhanced for the McLaren 650S. A feature of the system is the ability to adjust the ride and handling modes – Normal / Sport / Track – in isolation from the drivetrain, which gives complete freedom in terms of ride and handling. These settings, for both powertrain and suspension, have been recalibrated to improve driver engagement. The updates are especially noticeable in Sport mode.

'McLaren is a fast moving company, continually striving for improvements and technical advantages. We are always seeking to innovate, to be the class leaders, to bring new technologies and thinking to market. That's our Formula 1 heritage shining through,' explains Mike Flewitt. 'Everything we've learnt from the 12C and the McLaren P1™ has gone into the design and development of the McLaren 650S.'

The McLaren 650S is designed to be the best and most engaging driver's car in its class, yet it is not a stripped out road racer. Ride comfort and refinement are to executive saloon standards. The McLaren 650S models are equipped with IRIS satellite navigation with Bluetooth telephony, DAB digital radio (SIRIUS satellite radio in North America), wireless tethering, audio streaming and voice control as standard, while also offering enhanced levels of optional specification than previously offered. Options include fixed-back carbon racing seats, based on the lightweight design found in the McLaren P1™, an electric steering column adjustment assisting ingress and egress, a rear parking camera and extended carbon fibre throughout the interior.

The global reveal of the McLaren 650S Coupéand Spider will take place on Stand 1240, Hall 1 at 12.00CET (11.00GMT) on Tuesday, 4 March 2014 at the 84th International Geneva Motor Show.