It’s a chilly morning in Sydney, clear blue skies for miles yet a light breeze that’ll give you a shiver while you sip your morning coffee. We’re at Miramare Gardens for what will be a morning we’ll never forget.
Resting on the perfectly manicured lawn in Terrey Hills are three cars we’ve only seen in magazines, the new McLaren 540C, 570S and the outgoing but absolute weapon – 650S. These cars are normally roped off from the public yet today we have the special privilege of driving not one, but all three cars.
We spend some time discussing what we are looking at, the differences between them and the minor tweaks of genius McLaren have added to their cars, completely unique to them too. All three at twin-turbo and all three are V8. It’s a wicked combination. The new rear end of the 540C and 570S outshine the 650S and you can see areas where McLaren has learned from the past to improve the new vehicles. One example is the carbon fibre tub and scissor doors. The 540C and 570S open much higher and the step to get into the car is no longer an issue. Basically, the 540C and 570S is now an easy car to get into and out of. The obvious question arises, how much are we talking to own one of these. The response surprises us, circa $350,000 will land you in a 540C drive away. The same you could be spending on a Porsche 911 Turbo.
Think about that for a minute. Would you rather be the owner of a McLaren or a Porsche for the same amount of money? The answer seems obvious.
After some scissors, paper, rock we take our pick for the car we’ll start with and we get set to cruise through the nearby national park.
The 540C and 570S both drove in a similar fashion, their performance comes alive around the 3000rpm mark which means that if you want to use these cars to drop your kid (only room for one!) at school then you could do so without much noise or fuss from the car. It handles and drives in a sensible fashion that has you thinking it could be a daily driver for someone. The interior is very nice and comfortable too. Sure there are options to take the car into a full track mode however in normal modes you’d be comfortable and so would your mother in-law. Drop her off though and put your foot down, it’ll still take you 0-100km/h in a notch over 3 seconds. It gets noisy and in the best possible way.
We can’t talk about the stereo on any of these cars because we had the windows down, the chorus of eight pistons and two turbos singing in sweet harmony, it truly is the sound that makes you cheer uncontrollably.
Before long we swapped cars around and found ourselves in the McLaren 650S. From the moment you install yourself into the car you know this is a different beast. You talk to it like Chase did to Eleanor in Gone in 60 Seconds. You beg for a smooth and simple experience, no hassles. You look to the sky like a rider in a rodeo before the gates open. Then you drive.
The 650S is different to the 540C. The 650S is ready to pounce, ready to fire, ready to launch from idle. It is a car that feels like it eggs you on. It doesn’t want to beat around the bush and be taunted between 0-3000rpm, it wants to be pushed, it enjoys it. And so, you do. The 650S will throw you in your seat – hard. It will make you feel like you’ve had 10 coffees before 9am, the adrenalin rush was instant. The air-conditioning was on yet we were sweating. The performance is faster than the newer two however not by a great deal. The interesting feeling was the surge between gears, there was no lag or no drop in performance as 2nd gear became 3rd. It is one of those cars that if you really nail it and don’t pay attention, you will be doing 200km/h in eight seconds. That is not a lot of time. What we do love about the 650S over the prior two however is the air brake. Upon hard breaking the rear wing will lift and add 2G’s of negative force, helping you slow down much quicker.
After almost two hours we were back at the lovely gardens and parking our cars. By now, the cars felt like the norm, how were we now expected to leave in our own cars? The discussion turned to which we would buy if we could. For us, the 540C has it. It contains more power than necessary, a luxurious interior, handling that will surprise you and a street presence that will distract Ferrari lovers. It is Porsche money for something that won’t be seen in the same category. A smart move by McLaren to provide a “cheaper” supercar without making you feel like you’ve made a single sacrifice.