McLaren 650S Coupe

2016 - Review

McLaren 650S Coupe, front
McLaren 650S Coupe, side
McLaren 650S Coupe, rear
McLaren 650S Coupe, spoiler
McLaren 650S Coupe, doors
McLaren 650S Coupe, tyre temperature
McLaren 650S Coupe, dashboard
McLaren 650S Coupe, wheel
McLaren 650S Coupe, sat nav
McLaren 650S Coupe, MPG readout
McLaren 650S Coupe, console
McLaren 650S Coupe, boot
McLaren 650S Coupe, engine
McLaren 650S Coupe, mirror
McLaren 650S Coupe, instruments
McLaren 650S Coupe, interior
McLaren 650S Coupe, cup holder
McLaren 650S Coupe, name plate

THEY know a thing or two about quick cars at McLaren.

Fifty years of Formula One, 12 world champion driver titles and eight constructors' championships speak for themselves.

So do 182 chequered flags and 155 pole positions.

Lightweight carbon fibre construction has been a key element of McLaren cars for the past 36 years and it's become a crucial feature of the road going supercars that now wear the famous badge.

It started back in 1992 when Gordon Murray created the astonishingly light McLaren F1 - recently hailed as the greatest ever supercar following a worldwide poll at the London Classic and Sports Car Show - and a model which would set you back more than £10 million in this day and age.

Five years ago the McLaren Automotive company was launched as a separate business to the racing team and it's gone on to catapult the brand to the forefront of auto exotica with a line up that oozes British motoring excellence.

And while every McLaren looks dressed for a 24 hour run at Le Mans in the middle of June - and would probably fare quite well - it is the engineering which sets these fabulous beasts apart.

Eat your heart out Ferrari and Lamborghini for here is a range of supercars that are as driveable as any sports saloon but with the venom of a cobra.

In the current four type McLaren line up that is epitomised by the 650S available either as a sleek coupe or sensuous open top Spider.

And in the stratosphere that is supercar motoring McLaren has kept pricing competitive with the range starting at a shade over £125,000 and the 650S pitching in at £198,000 for the coupe and £218,250 for the Spider.

In coupe guise it is as pure as they come - a fraction under 14ft 10ins long and just four feet high.

That is until you open the incredible dihedral doors that characterise every McLaren sports car which swoop high above the roofline revealing a cockpit that is as advanced as it is functional.

Every aspect of the car is stunning. Peer down at the mid-mounted 3.8-litre biturbo V8 engine which can be seen through the rear screen and its proportions appear not to justify the might of this car.

But fire it up and not only is the soundtrack sensational but so is the firepower - all 641bhp (650ps hence the name) which equates to 493bhp per tonne.

The result is breathtaking performance of 0 to 60 in less than 2.9 seconds, a maximum of 204mph and sufficient grunt to complete a standing quarter mile in 10.5 seconds where it will hit no less than 139mph.

In a straight-line it's quicker - and cheaper - than anything bearing the Prancing Horse badge from Maranello.

Heady stuff indeed but the McLaren genius has been to contain such awe with a modicum of decency to make the 650S completely manageable for everyday work.

While there is an obvious zest for open roads there is nothing harsh about the ride at any speed and around town it is light to handle and manoeuvre and smooth to drive.

Moreover, for a true supercar it has sensible thirst. McLaren's claimed official fuel figure of 24.2mpg with emissions of 275g/km is realistic and on our 50 mile run we saw an average of 20.7mpg over a variety of conditions from town centres to country lanes.

The 650S delivers a delightful driving experience. It sounds and feels so proper - you can hear the powertrain going about its work, instilling confidence and a constant reminder of great engineering.

It's fitted with a seven speed dual clutch transmission. There is no gear lever, only buttons to select drive and gimble mounted paddle shifters to work through the ratios which can be varied for sport or track modes outside of the normal settings.

The suspension can also be altered accordingly and with active aerodynamics - now banned in F1 because of their performance enhancing features - the grip is astonishing, the body pushed down by a flip-up rear spoiler which deploys automatically.

With the carbon fibre body shell adding to the rigidity the 650S feels rock solid yet immensely agile. Even the door mirror fairings are designed to boost downforce.

Everything about the car means business. The brakes are carbon ceramic, the spoiler doubles as an air brake and the lightweight alloys are shod with Pirelli P Zero tyres.

Yet despite the masses of McLaren know how which have gone into the 650S it is by no means a stripped out GT racer.

Creature comforts abound in an interior dressed in Alcantara and carbon trim - there are even cup holders lurking behind the ‘floating' centre column in the dash - and boot space, under the bonnet, is big enough for a couple of overnight bags at 144 litres.

Sat nav comes via a vertical display screen, there is full onboard connectivity, a high end Meridian sound system and the instrument cluster is simplicity in itself - one dial flanked by digital information panels.

Scroll through the menus and the information is comprehensive and relevant - trip data and vehicle settings and even a readout for tyre temperature.

That's the sort of attention to detail that makes the McLaren very special - a super supercar if ever there was.


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