Built to be Driven
In the world of supercars, the race to the top has seen Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini playing leapfrog for a number of years. In 2014, they may need to step aside for the new entry from McLaren Automotive. The 650S promises to redefine the high performance supercar market, and has been designed and developed to provide the ultimate in driver engagement on the road and on the race track. Beauty, power, performance and luxury come together in the most driver-focused car in its class. From the design table to the road, this car is built to be driven.
Unveiled in March at the 84th International Geneva Motor Show, the 650S is available as a fixed-roof Coupé as well as a convertible; a two-piece retractable hardtop. Thanks to the unique carbon fiber MonoCell chassis, pioneered by McLaren in 1981 for the MP4/1, the Spider has no reduction in torsional strength and is mechanically identical to the Coupé. Most competitors do not offer high performance models as convertibles due to the compromises that invariably plague open-roof cars. These models would be heavier and have substantially less torsional rigidity, to the detriment of handling and ride.
The 650S is officially an additional model in McLaren’s growing portfolio, following the 12C that launched the brand’s bid to compete in the supercar league in 2012, and the very limited edition McLaren P1. Combining the best features in design and performance of the two earlier models along with 50 years of competing at the highest level of motorsports, McLaren has dialed up the design drama and driving excitement in this stunning new model.
The 650S puts its main message out there – 650 PS, which is actually 641 horsepower – and S for Sport, underlining the focus on handling, drivability and engagement. The design is clearly inspired by the McLaren P1 and showcases a new family design language for the brand. More importantly, the new look follows the McLaren design ethos of “form follows function,” with the front bumper providing a dramatic, yet clean, appearance while the integrated front splitter contributes to increased levels of downforce.
The technical highlights of the 650S are many, beginning with the Formula 1-inspired carbon fiber chassis. Weighing just 165 pounds, the innovative MonoCell forms the center of the car and offers advantages in not only weight, but durability, safety and quality. Other technologies with links to the company’s Formula 1-rich heritage include full wishbone suspension, mid-engine architecture, Brake Steer for enhanced agility, carbon ceramic disc brakes and active aerodynamics. Standard on the 650S are Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires on forged aluminum wheels (19-inch front, 20-inch rear).
The pioneering ProActive Chassis Control (PCC) suspension system, developed by McLaren, has been further enhanced for the 650S. The system allows adjustments to the ride and handling modes – Normal/Sport/Track – in isolation from the drive train, which gives complete freedom in terms of ride and handling.
In the middle of the 650S sits a 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V8 that sends 641 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. The Coupé and Spider versions each weigh in at about 3,000 lbs., and each can get from a standing start to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, 100 mph in 5.7 seconds and 186 mph in 25.4 seconds. Top speed is quoted at 207 mph.
The dramatic exterior styling includes full LED headlamps with the signature McLaren ‘speed marque’ logo in the design. The hood is finished with the new McLaren badge, inspired by the logo fitted to the iconic McLaren F1. The dihedral doors, that open up instead of out were built purposely to allow the designers to keep the doorsills wide and centralize the mass in the cabin.
The interior offers comfort and luxury, trimmed in lightweight Alcantara and extends to include the full headlining. Napa leather is available as an option, as is contrasting color stitching. Fixed-back carbon racing seats, based on the design found in the McLaren P1™, provides superb upper and lower body support. A beautifully designed central console and dash display the performance monitoring and control gauges.
Definitely, this car was built to be driven. And once you get past the looks and luxury and engineering, the experience of being behind the wheel of the 650S is where the whole package makes sense. One test driver sums it up this way, “The 650S has the ability to make every driver feel like a better driver, from novices to experienced racers. The car has supreme balance, and turns into corners precisely with perfectly weighted steering. Each turn behind the wheel etches itself into your memory. In short, the 650S delivers supercar performance par excellence.”
50 Years of McLaren
In 2013, McLaren turned 50. Founded by engineer and racecar driver Bruce McLaren, the company has been at the pinnacle of world motorsport from the beginning.
McLaren’s first Grand Prix victory came in 1968 in Belgium. Since then, McLaren cars have won the Indianapolis 500, were the dominant team in the American Can Am sports car series in the 60s and 70s, and claimed outright victory at the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Bruce McLaren was killed testing a new Can Am sports racing car in 1970. The tragedy did not lessen the McLaren team’s desire to win and that year won nine out of the 10 Can Am races. That same year, Bruce had his sights set on launching McLaren’s first road-legal sports car but the project was abandoned following his death.
Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, McLaren pioneered new technologies in almost every aspect of design, from the revolutionary carbon fiber chassis, to performance systems, braking systems and aerodynamics.
Following the aborted efforts to launch a road-legal sports car in 1970, McLaren introduced the F1 to the world in 1992. It was the world’s first road car with a carbon chassis and body.
In 2010, McLaren Automotive was created and unveiled the 12C and 12C Spider, followed by the limited edition McLaren P1™ hybrid and now the 650S Coupé and 650 Spider. Through the integration of 50 years of Formula 1 racing expertise and knowledge, and 20 years of heritage in producing landmark sports cars, McLaren Automotive is dedicated to the ongoing design and development of technologically advanced, groundbreaking automobiles built with uncompromising quality. The manufacturing facility is located in Woking, Surrey, UK at the McLaren Technology Centre.
Bringing Car and Driver Together
In the highly competitive environment of car dealerships, it’s important to find a dealer that not only represents the car you are seeking but understands the relationship is much more than a sales transaction. McLaren Automotive values these qualities, and has identified The Auto Gallery as one of just a handful of dealerships in the US that are qualified to carry the McLaren brand.
The Auto Gallery is proud to represent McLaren in its Beverly Hills, Calabasas, California and Scottsdale, Arizona showrooms. Louise Bristow, Marketing and Public Relations Director at The Auto Gallery, believes the Company’s unrelenting commitment to excellence in building customer confidence and delivering a great buying experience for the customer is what sets The Auto Gallery apart from the competition.
The Auto Gallery was founded in 2001 through the acquisition of Ferrari, Porsche and Audi. Harrison Gray, Tony Schwartz and the Potamkin organization became partners in the new venture with the vision of becoming the premier luxury automobile retailer in the U.S. In 2002 they were chosen to represent Maserati and have subsequently been awarded the franchises for Lamborghini, FIAT, Pagani and McLaren. Arrangements are being finalized to add Alfa Romeo to the franchise list.
Both Harrison (Harry) and Tony come from a rich and diverse automotive background. Tony’s career began in his father’s Los Angeles Jaguar dealership where he worked his way up to General Manager. In 1978 he purchased a Porsche/ Audi/VW dealership in Palm Springs, returning to the family dealership in 1981. He continued his work with a number of auto franchises and in 2001 became a partner in the group that acquired what is today known as The Auto Gallery. He personally oversees every aspect of the business, ensuring customers are met with a level of service exceeding their expectations.
After graduating from Wharton Business School, Harry purchased his first dealership in New York City. He went on to purchase a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Southampton, NY, in 1981, adding BMW to the dealership in 1982. Under his direction, the dealership grew from 32 cars a year to 1,850 cars a year, and became the number three BMW dealership in the US and number 20th Mercedes dealership. In 2001 he had the opportunity to join Tony and the Potamkins in the formation of The Auto Gallery. Primarily overseeing the Porsche operations, he has gained recognition from Porsche as a Premier Dealer.
“Our customers are our friends,” Ms. Bristow says. “We know them by their first name when they come into the dealership. We share their excitement over the ownership of an exotic or luxury car. We want to deliver an experience that keeps our customers coming back, it’s about more than just the sale of a car for us.”
The Auto Gallery has 11 locations throughout Southern California and Arizona. You can learn more about The Auto Gallery by visiting their website at www.theautogallery.com.