The new sports car features a 3.8 litre V8 twin turbo engine which kicks out 569 bhp and reaches a top speed of 204 mph. All this speed goes through a seven-speed SSG transmission to its rear wheels and is stopped by carbon ceramic disc brakes fitted as standard.
With the car weighing in at just 1,313kgs you would expect some carbon fibre voodoo to be at work here and you would be right. Thanks to the company’s unique lightweight carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis weighing in at just 80kgs it features a lower, narrower sill to aid cabin access. The Sports Series is the only model range within the sports car segment to offer a full carbon fibre chassis and is around 150kgs lighter than its closed rival.
The carbon fibre MonoCell II is 25% stiffer than a comparable aluminium chassis, and has an even greater margin of superiority over steel. This structural stiffness improves handling, agility and ride comfort. It is stronger and safer in a crash, and needs no extra bracing or reinforcement (such as side intrusion beams). The carbon fibre has enough intrinsic strength without ‘bolt on’ safety beams. It is also more durable than metal, and its greater dimensional accuracy improves build quality.
For the first time on a McLaren road car, the models in the Sports Series feature aluminium body panels instead of composites or carbon fibre. This change reflects the higher production volumes, with aluminium offering “superior quality of finish”, especially in surfacing for larger production numbers. The downside in using aluminium is that it gives less design freedom, for complex shapes, than moulded composite or carbon fibre panels.
Utilising a new ‘superform’ method, in which hot aluminium can be blown into complex shapes over a mould has allowed McLaren to produce intricate parts, most notably the large rear deck, which has also reduced weight. The aluminium body panels are no heavier than the composite panels used on the Super Series cars. Aluminium is used for the front and rear fenders, bonnet, rear deck, lower doors and roof. The upper section of the doors including the ‘tendons’ and the front splitter are made from composite.
The interior of the car mixes race car with the required refinements of every day use. Leather upholstered seats match the trimmed dashboard and steering wheel, sitting on the floating centre console is a full infotainment system that includes a TFT digital instrument cluster, a seven-inch IRIS touchscreen with bluetooth connectivity.
The car will be shown for the first time at the New York International Auto Show, and will retail from £143,250. McLaren also confirmed that the pricing for the 540C Coupe will start at £126,000. This model will be unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show when further details and pricing information will be made available.