Auto Review: McLaren 650S Spider

The supercar has gotten a facelift.

In the world of supercars, McLaren is up there with Ferrari and Lamborghini. The roots of the company that builds it can be traced to the 1960s and New Zealander Bruce McLaren, the late Formula 1 hotshot. The Surrey, England-based automaker’s first “pure” road car, the 12C, came out in 2011. This new McLaren 650S Spider, whose price starts at $280,225, is based on the 12C. But it has gotten a facelift, with 25 percent new parts. You slide down into the snug cockpit, enveloped by soft leather, and take off like you’re piloting a jet. Choose Normal, Sport, or Track settings for the type of ride you like best—then hang on for dear life. Top speed is 207 mph!

1. Inspired by the McLaren P1 model—a limited production, plug-in hybrid supercar—the 650S headlights are all-LED, meaning their functions are all illuminated by LED technology. They’re just as bright as Xenon lights, but are said to last longer and use less current, saving on fuel.

2. The 650S features a unique, carbon-fiber “bathtub,” or composite chassis, that’s said to be seven times stronger than steel. But it’s also lightweight, making the McLaren much lighter—and thus faster and more responsive—than some.

3. The “gull wing” (or “bat wing”) dihedral doors open up and away, also saving on weight. One reason: They’re designed to be raised or closed without any assistance from an electric motor, as required with conventional doors. They also just look cool. 

4. Putting the engine in the rear gives the car excellent balance. Fifty-seven percent of the weight’s in the rear, 43 percent’s in the front. Paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V-8 generates a whopping 641 horsepower. That means the 650S roars from zero to 62 mph in three seconds. Luckily, you can stop on a dime with the help of its, huge carbon-ceramic brakes.