Images of the new McLaren MP4-12C 650S leaked to the internet but the marque moved quickly to head them off with official photos and limited details of the car within the next 24 hours.
Created in response to customer demand for an edgier version of the MP4-12C - with the planned unveiling at the Geneva motor show early next month - the new supercar is said to offer greater levels of driver engagement.
The 650S (that's S for Sport) runs a more heavily tuned version of McLaren’s twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 direct injection petrol engine producing a claimed 18kW more than the unit used by its 460kW standard sibling, as its name suggests 650hp (478kW).
Performance figures will be confirmed ahead of the Geneva Show but will improve on the 12C.
The design is inspired by the McLaren P1 and the reshaped front bumper sits below new LED headlamps. The front splitter is said to contribute to increased levels of downforce.
The aerodynamic performance of the McLaren 650S is as efficient as the 12C, boasting the same drag coefficient figure, yet the air is being worked harder and more efficiently as it flows over, and through, the functional bodywork. At 240 kmh, downforce levels are increased by 24 per cent.
Unique side intakes behind the dihedral doors feed large radiators which help provide the cooling requirements of the mid-mounted, compact engine. A new design five-spoke lightweight forged ''650S'' alloy wheel is unique to the model, and are fitted with Pirelli P Zero' Corsa tyres. The bespoke ''MC1'' branded tyres have been developed alongside the 650S by Pirelli.
The airbrake, originally fitted to the 12C and 12C Spider and designed to offer optimised levels of downforce on the rear of the car, now operates with a new level of functionality. The Airbrake's latest development means it now deploys whenever the car senses extra downforce is advisable – rather than simply under braking or when manually operated in ''Aero'' mode.
The suspension system now has the ability to adjust the ride and handling modes – Normal / Sport / Track – in isolation from the drivetrain.
McLaren claims the 650S is designed to be the best and most engaging driver’s car in its class, yet says it is not a stripped out road racer. It is equipped with IRIS satellite navigation with Bluetooth telephony, DAB digital radio, wireless tethering, audio streaming and voice control as standard. Options also include fixed-back carbon racing seats, based on the lightweight design found in the McLaren P1, an electric steering column adjustment assisting ingress and egress, a rear parking camera and extended carbon fibre throughout the interior.
The 650S Coupe and Spider will be officially unveiled at midnight (NZ time) on March 4 at the Geneva motor show.