The new ‘entry’ McLaren 540C coupe has made its world debut at the Shanghai motor show, expanding the British marque’s Sports Series family to two models.
The 540C arrives hot on the heels of the 570S, which premiered at the start of April in New York. The baby McLaren is a slightly detuned version of that model, and as such will also be McLaren’s most affordable car to date.
Indeed, 540S will undercut its big sibling by about £17,000 ($A32,000) in the UK. An Australian price — yes, it’s coming here alongside the 570S — somewhere around $350,000 seems reasonable, putting it in the ballpark of the Porsche 911 Turbo.
It features subtly different styling and more comfortable damping, though based on its performance figures, it remains very much the supercar you’d expect. It also retains those awesome butterfly doors.
Global deliveries begin in early 2016, including Australia.
The second Sports Series member — McLaren also has the Super Series (650 and 675 LT) and the Ultimate Series (the P1 hypercar) — keeps its family ties obvious.
But whereas the 570S features a 420kW/600Nm mid-mounted 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine matched to a seven-speed SSG semi-automatic gearbox, the 540C gets the same engine detuned to 397kW/540Nm.
The 1311kg coupe (2kg lighter than the 570S) thereby dashes from 0-100km/h three-tenths slower than the 570S, in a time of 3.5 seconds, and from 0-200km/h in 10.5 seconds (1.0sec slower). Top speed is 8km/h lower at 320km/h. Hardly tardy.
Despite being an ‘entry’ car, it retains its sibling’s lightweight carbonfibre MonoCell chassis and race-derived technologies. It’s said to be 150kg lighter than key development rivals.
Like the 570, it’s more focused on day-to-day usability, with improved cabin ingress and egress and “class-leading” occupant protection and safety.
It’s a potential daily driver, in other words, rather than a track special.
A subtly revised aerodynamic package and dedicated wheel design mark out the 540C against the more powerful 570S Coupé. Unique aero blades below the front bumper channel air through the lower bodywork and up over the sculpted bonnet, flanked by large LED headlights.
At the rear, a unique diffuser sits between the twin exhausts below the rear bumper. There are also “intricately designed dihedral doors” which include a floating door tendon. This design feature channels air along the length of the door into the two integrated rear air intakes.
This creates a clean path for the air to flow along the bodywork with minimal drag, directing air to the flying buttresses at the rear of the cabin which optimise air flow over the rear deck to increase downforce levels (along with the rear spoiler) and aid engine cooling.
There are new cast alloy wheels, available with silver or stealth finish, which measure 19 inches in diameter at the front and 20 inches at the rear. These are fitted with Pirelli P Zero tyres as standard, which have been developed specifically.
The 540C retains the Formula 1-derived Brake Steer system, designed to aid cornering by applying braking force to the inside rear wheel. You can brake later approaching a corner, in practice.
There’s also a newly-developed suspension system with front and rear anti-roll bars, dual wishbones and independent adaptive dampers. The damper tuning has been revised on 540C, over 570S, with more focus on day-to-day road driving.
The interior contains a focus on space and ergonomics compared to the 650S (it’s all relative), offering greater outward visibility and interior space. Organic curves carried inside from the exterior design bring “delicate tension without aggression” — apparently.
Standard features include leather on the seats, dashboard and lower doors. The ‘floating’ centre console features a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The air conditioning controls are also incorporated, as first seen on the McLaren P1, minimising switchgear.
The touchscreen also controls the standard DAB digital radio, as well as satellite-navigation, Bluetooth telephony and media streaming, voice activation and the audio media player. The IRIS system also includes the electronic owner’s manual.
Note: 570S cabin pictured.
Both Sports Series models are available to order from the global McLaren retail network (meaning Sydney and Melbourne in Australia).
As we have previously reported, both the 570S and 540C will form a huge part in McLaren’s road car expansion, given it is expected to easily double the company’s global road car output from about 1600 cars per annum at present to more like 4000 by 2016/17.
And never fear — there won’t be an SUV any time soon.
McLAREN 540C TECH SPECS
|0-100 km/h (0-62 mph)||3.5 seconds|
|0-200 km/h (0-124 mph)||10.5 seconds|
|Top speed||320 km/h (199 mph)|
|Power-to-weight||412PS per tonne|
ENGINE & POWERTRAIN
|Engine configuration||V8 Twin Turbo / 3799cc|
|Power||397kW @ 7,500 rpm|
|Torque||540Nm @ 3,500-6,500 rpm|
|Transmission||7 Speed SSG|
|Economy||25.5 mpg (EU combined)|
|Engine lubricant||Mobil 1 New Life™ 0W-40|
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
|Dry weight||1,311 kg (2,890lbs) with lightweight options|
|Weight distribution (f / r)||42 / 58|