The 641bhp 12C successor with performance ahead of its time
WITH MORE STYLE AND EVEN MORE PERFORMANCE than the blistering MP4-12C that went before it, the 650S was a worthy replacement for new-era Mclaren’s first road car. Launched in 2014, it built upon its predecessor’s strong formula to enable it to go head-to-head with the likes of the 991-generation Porsche 911 GT3 and the hardcore Ferrari 458 Speciale.
Under its restyled, P1-inspired skin, the 650S features an early iteration of Mclaren’s trademark carbonfibre monocoque. Weighing just 75kg, this Monocell helped the 650S achieve an overall kerb weight of 1428kg, making it lighter than the 458 Italia – and with a sizeable power advantage to boot.
This came via a development of the 12C’s 3.8-litre twinturbocharged M838T V8, designed in collaboration with Ricardo. With new pistons, cylinder heads and exhaust valves, plus tweaked cam timing, an additional 25bhp and 58lb ft of torque were extracted, taking the totals up to 641bhp and 500lb ft. Do the maths and you’ll find the 650S achieves an astonishing power-to-weight ratio of 456bhp per ton, helping it hit 62mph from standstill in 3 seconds flat and go on to a 207mph top speed. Perhaps even more impressive is its 5.7sec 0-100mph time, a figure that puts it half a second ahead of the marque’s iconic F1.
The 650S rides surprisingly well in its default mode, even on less-than-perfect surfaces. Increase the aggression with a prod of the ‘Active’ button and a twist of the ‘Handling’ control and it’s immediately clear that it’s a brutally capable machine, incredibly composed and with raw straight-line acceleration that’s a match for many of today’s offerings. This said, the 650S was ahead of its time in many ways: launched into a world of naturally aspirated heroes, it could feel lacking in emotion in its day, but in today’s era of hybrid-assisted, forced-induction supercars, the 650S slots in nicely, especially when you consider how much they now cost…
Though it came at a £20,000 premium over the 12C at just shy of £200,000 before options, Mclaren depreciation has worked its magic, bringing earlier, higher-mileage coupes and Spiders down to as little as £85,000. Spend £10-15k more and you’ll have yourself a high-spec example with sub-10,000 miles, with the very best Mso-optioned cars costing in the region of £105,000.
Of course, there are reasons for this. An oversupply of newer Mclarens is one explanation, but poor overall reliability is the primary culprit. While there’s not a single point of failure on the 650S, numerous issues relating to poor quality control have emerged over the years, ranging from imperfect panel alignment to spontaneously shattering glass. One plus is that the M838T engine saw use in everything from the 12C to the P1 GTR, and so while still pricey, spare parts (and even whole engines) aren’t quite as ruinous as a more bespoke unit.