Modern Art Monday: The McLaren 650S


While the 2014 New York Auto Show seemed a bit sleepy this year, there were a few items that helped to spice things up. A flock of Mazda Miata examples certainly helped, as did a slew of sports cars on display. One item, however, was not actually on the show floor but instead a few blocks away.

It’s the 2015 McLaren 650S, and it made its official North American Debut just around the corner from the Javits Center. Is it more than just a “budget” (term used insanely loosely) McLaren P1? Yes of course it is… it’s also a bit of Modern Art that should help your day get started, even if you haven’t had coffee yet. 


The folks at McLaren trotted out two examples of their all-new supercar. A coupe (seen below in blue) and the Spider, which features a power-folding hardtop. Like the car, the top moves into position with lightning speed. I know it’s an odd thing to notice, but I was mesmerized by just how quickly it was stowed.


So where does the name 650S come from? In Non-‘Murica figures, the car sees 650PS produced from its M838T twin-turbocharged V8 engine. Stateside, that number is 641 horsepower, which gives the 650S a power-to-weight ratio of 500 horsepower per tonne (which is 1,000 kilograms – sorry for the maths this morning). The 3.8-liter unit also churns out 500 pound-feet of torque, and pushes the 650S from 0-60 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds. Keep the accelerator pressed and you’ll hit triple digits in just 5.7 seconds.

If you have enough room, keep your foot in it and the coupe will run all the way up to 207 miles per hour. The Spider will see 204 miles per hour.


Rather amazingly, the McLaren 650S is not hit with a gas guzzler tax. Yes, you read that last line correctly. That’s because the team from Woking wanted this to be your everyday supercar. It’s rated to return 24.2 miles per gallon in standard driving. Of course, we imagine no owner will ever see that because it would be too hard not to put your boot down.


Since this is a McLaren vehicle we’re talking about, you can bet that you’d find a slew of mechanical and technical bits designed to do one thing; go fast. You’re right. The 650S boasts active aero like its sibling the P1. There is a KERS-like system called Inertia Push, which uses built-up kinetic energy to add more torque as each successive gear is engaged. The ProActive Chassis adjusts a wide range of suspension, transmission, engine, and exhaust settings to provide a driving experience tailored to whats unfolding out on the tarmac.

Oh, there’s also a feature that briefly cuts the spark, and then “pops” the fuel as it’s re-ignited. This makes an amazing noise… and shoots flames out the tailpipes. We’re not sure which engineer came up with that one, but we like his or her style.

So, dear reader, do you think the McLaren 650S qualifies for a bit of the ole’ Modern Art Monday goodness? Sound off below. At the very least, it’s sure to have got your blood flowing a little bit, right?

[Images copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Jeff Glucker]

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