A McLaren 650S is a stretch for most, but at least there’s the option of getting a Mc-supercar with more modest funds. The 540S Coupe, unveiled at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show, is more affordable than anything before it.
The 540S Coupe is the second car from the Sports Series, which sits below the Super Sport and Ultimate Series. It features the same carbon fibre chassis and the same engine as the 570S albeit in a detuned form.
A mid-mounted 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 gives the 540C a healthy 540PS at 7,500rpm and 540Nm of torque from 3,500 to 6,000rpm. This allows a 0 to 62mph sprint of 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 199mph – 0.3 seconds and 5mph shy of the 570S, respectively.
Just in case you still think the 540S is a bit wishy washy, 0 to 124mph takes 10.5 seconds – nine-tenths of a second slower than the much pricier 650S. CO2 emissions and fuel economy, meanwhile, are 258g/km and 25.5mpg so it’s hardly the biggest gas-guzzler.
The use of the MonoCell II carbon fibre chassis helps keep the dry weight down to 1,311kg, making the McLaren 150kg lighter than its lightest competitor, the Audi R8. That means a power-to-weight ratio of 412PS per tonne (the 570S offers 434PS per tonne).
Now before you start to worry the 540C is only available in Asia, like the 625C, you should know former will be available globally and can be ordered now, with deliveries expected in early 2016. The C is said to stand for ‘Clubsport’.
Minus the drop in power and a few aerodynamic revisions, the 540S is virtually as potent. It retains the Formula One-derived Brake Steer system that allows you to brake later before a corner and put the power down sooner after one.
There are also active dampers that let you swap between Normal, Sport and Track driving modes for adjusting the harshness of the suspension as well as Pirelli P Zero tyres. It does, however, feature a slightly softer ride to make it more usable on a day-to-day basis.
Inside you can expect leather through the cabin, a seven-inch IRIS touchscreen infotainment system, air-conditioning, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and, rather usefully, an electronic owner’s manual as standard.
So how much does ‘the most attainable McLaren yet’ cost? The starting price is £126,000, which is £17,250 cheaper than a 570S, £6,500 more expensive than the 540PS R8 V10 and £11,500 cheaper than the 610PS R8 V10 Plus.