2014 McLaren 650S

Posted by Luke O'Neill

2014 McLaren 650S
by Luke O'Neill

 650s blog image

At the launch of Australia’s first official McLaren dealership in 2012, I was lucky enough to meet and chat with Ron Dennis who was, at the time, leading the McLaren Automotive Division and running around the world opening dealerships for their new car the MP4-12C. Clearly that night the moons had aligned and I’d Feng Shui’d my house correctly, as it was also the night I was asked to be the Australian Brand Ambassador for McLaren.

Having spent 12 months in a McLaren MP4-12C I was both biased and intrigued to see how they could make what I thought was a fantastic car even better. The 650S is an improved 12C both in looks (which of course is subjective – I still like the original 12C design) and in performance. Having had many ‘No Way!!’ moments in the 12C, driving a faster version was in some ways a little daunting!

Apart from styling cues the big difference with the 650S over its progenitor is more power and more torque. Hard to imagine that the car that started with 600 odd bhp could be turned up even higher, but that I guess is the benefit of turbocharging.

For my first drive I found myself at a track I know well; Sydney Motorsport Park at eastern Creek. On my initial laps the car was most definitely quicker; a more ferocious application of its power. The torque made its presence felt too, especially on the exit of corners where it provided easily accessible oversteer; something you had to provoke the 12C into. Its turn in was still very precise and the grip levels still super high (regardless of the power oversteer). This is where I feel the McLaren separates itself from other supercars; grip = confidence, which in turn equals more engagement and therefore overall satisfaction.

Some other tricky tech added to the 650 is in the (already brilliant) seamless shift gearbox called Torque Fill where they mapped the torque to fill in the gaps when you change up gears, which is quite a trick in a dual clutch seamless shift gearbox. When it kicks in it gives the stomach losing sensation you get on a rollercoaster, or when you pay $7.50 for a cup of coffee…

The 650S has everything I loved about the 12C with all of the bugs ironed out and some more push and more tech added in. Of the two models it’s the one to have, but to be honest I liked the 12C more because it was the car McLaren wanted to build, where one could argue the 650S is the car to answer the critics complaining it wasn’t as driftable as the Ferrari. The 12C, for me, redefined grip and poise in the supercar field. Don’t get me wrong, sliding out of a corner in the 650S doesn’t have a downside when measuring the smile factor and it’s the one I’d have in my garage, but the 12C was somehow more pure. Maybe I’m just biased as it was ‘my’ first supercar (for 12 months anyway!)

And now here we are on the verge of an even faster version of the 650S called the 675LT. Also just released is the brands ‘entry level’ car the 540S and 570S – with significantly different styling signalling the future for the brand. Think P1 and you’re on track with 570S.

Hopefully soon there will be a review on both the 675LT and 570S to add to this page soon!