The McLaren 540C is the latest offering from the English supercar specialist. It’s “affordable.” It’s “entry-level.”
But don’t let any of that fool you. At $US165,000, the 540C is only bargain-basement when compared to the company’s million-dollar $US1.3-million P1 hypercar or the $US300,000, 640-horsepower 650S.
It’s really a budget supercar. Powered by the same 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 found in the much pricier 650S and and P1. The engine puts out 532 horsepower. Sure, that’s slightly less than its siblings. But it’s still a supercar number.
The result? 0-60 mph from a standstill in just 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph.
So, it’s a supercar, despite McLaren’s desire to brand it as something else. But it’s a supercar for everyday driving. The car’s transmission has been re-tuned with that idea in mind, as opposed to mind-bending performance (although specs indicate indicate that the 540C can more than hold its own on a track).
The McLaren’s carbon-fibre passenger compartment has also been redesigned to make getting in and out of the low-slung machine a bit less awkward than it is in your average supercar.
Inside the cabin, the 540C retains McLaren’s smart ergonomics and luxurious appointments. It also keeps the company’s floating center console and touchscreen LCD infotainment system.
Overall, the 540C is intended to deliver a more refined experience, something that’s important for the customer McLaren is targeting: first-time supercar owners who don’t want supercar hassles.
Because let’s face it, supercar ownership has over the years earned a reputation for being difficult. The cars are finicky and high-strung. But the user friendly 540C, by eliminating some of those issues, may get potential owners interested in starting a journey with McLaren that ends with a proper supercar.
McLaren expects to deliver the first batch of customer 540Cs early next year.