By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
Strongly influenced by McLaren’s previous supercars, the all-new 2015 McLaren 650S combines the legendary track attributes of the P1 with the luxury and comfortable driving ease introduced by the 12C series. With the 650S supercar, McLaren takes its twin-turbocharged V8 to new heights, achieving 641 horsepower and moving the 650S closer to such rivals as the Ferrari 458 and F12berlinetta, as well as the Porsche 918. As for overall performance, the 650S now ranks as one of the world’s best-handling exotics, delivering astounding traction in the curves and acceleration so quick it just might feel that it’s sucking the oxygen from your lungs.
If you’re looking for the latest exotic supercar without a 2-year waiting list, McLaren can deliver you a 2015 650S quicker than Ferrari or Lamborghini can put a new car in your driveway, and being the latest supercar on the block will also garner you a lot of attention.
Though fast, McLaren’s new 650S Coupe and Spider aren’t the fastest exotic performance cars on the market, nor the most powerful, most expensive or most exclusive.
2015 marks the first production year for the McLaren 650S luxury supercar. The Coupe is first to arrive, with the retractable-hardtop Spider following shortly thereafter.
Compared to the MP4-12C, the McLaren’s 2015 650S supercar feels more dialed in. It’s high-speed performance in the curves borders on overconfident, which is what we dare think many drivers...
... will feel about their own abilities after a few minutes behind the wheel. McLaren has increased the 650S’s track-hugging potential by increasing downforce via a low front splitter and equipping it with the company’s PCC (Proactive Chassis Control) which, when switched to Track mode, enables the 650S seemingly to stick to the pavement like chewing gum in July. Coupled to a brilliant 7-speed transmission is a twin-turbocharged V8 that exhibits no relation to the words “turbo lag.” The feeling of connectivity with 650S is almost symbiotic, be it the steering, the brakes or the throttle; the feeling of being one with this incredible road car is immediate and unforgettable. And that’s not just our opinion.
PADDLE-SHIFTING 7-SPEED AUTOMATIC
The 7-speed automatic found in the 2015 McLaren 650S works just fine on its own, but engage the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and the response is so quick even the most ardent manual transmission fan will acquiesce.
Most supercars are so loud inside all you can hear is the roar of engine and tires, but McLaren’s 650S is a civilized exotic that can be equipped with a brilliant 7-speaker Surround Sound system by Meridian, one of the world’s leading audio manufacturers.
Slipping past the 650S’s flip-up doors requires a bit of balance and flexibility but, once in place, the view is well worth it. McLaren blends the best metals, carbon fiber and luxurious fibers to create a sleek, modern interior that feels neither barren nor overly ornate. The 650S’s contoured sport seats and headliner can be coated in a choice of semi-aniline or Nappa leather, and carbon-fiber trim can be added to the door inserts and rear-capping panel. You can even opt for a set of lightweight carbon-fiber fixed-back racing seats inspired by the P1’s interior.
With its distinctive sculpted side air intakes, McLaren’s 2015 650S clearly shows its competitive, Formula 1-inclusive background. Special attention was paid to the front bumper and integrated splitter designed to be both stylish and highly functional. The 650S’s massive wheels (19-inch up front and 20-inch in back) are mounted with Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tires that have been specially tailored to the 650S’s driving characteristics. The Spider convertible includes a heated rear window that works independently of the top. With the roof lowered, the glass stays in place to act as a windscreen, and the window can also be lowered with the top up.
Every 650S includes a twin-turbocharged V8 engine, a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with manual capability, 19- and 20-inch wheels, Proactive Chassis Control, semi-aniline coverings for the sport seats and headliner, carbon-ceramic front and rear brake rotors, a 7-inch navigation touch screen monitor, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, and a Meridian 4-speaker sound system with AM/FM/USB/hard drive and iPod integration. Also on the list: a full Alcantara-trimmed interior, leather steering wheel and cruise control.
Among the few options for the 650S are an upgraded Surround Sound Meridian audio system, colored semi-aniline or full Nappa leather interior trim, power seats, front and rear parking sensors and carbon-fiber trim for the rear bumper, door blades and splitter. Also available is a power-adjustable steering column, rearview monitor and a number of interior and exterior trims pieces for the ultimate in owner customization.
Power for the 2015 McLaren 650S comes from a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 good for 641 horsepower, which is routed to the rear wheels via a dual-clutch 7-speed transmission that can shift automatically or manually by way of the F1-style paddle shifters. The result? A 0-to-60-mph run in just 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 207 mph.
3.8-liter twin-turbo V8
641 horsepower @ 7,250 rpm
500 lb-ft of torque @ 6,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 mpg
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2015 McLaren 650S supercar Coupe starts just under $270,000, while the 650S Spider convertible starts just shy of $285,000. Although you could also buy a house for that amount, in the land of exotic performance cars it’s really quite common. A Ferrari F12berlinetta goes for around $325,000, while a Lamborghini Aventador glides past the $400,000 mark without a sweat. Then again, you could drop into a Porsche 918 for mere $845,000. On the more reasonable side, an Aston Martin DB9 starts just over $200,000, an Audi R8 V10 is around $155,000, and a Chevrolet Corvette Z51 is in the bargain range of only $60,000. As the 2015 McLaren 650S is a limited-production vehicle in high demand, we expect its value will remain high over the next few years.