By Robert Nichols
In an attempt at broadening its clientele, McLaren has added the 540C Coupé to its lineup. The new sport model is touted as being the most “attainable” (least expensive) model they have at approximately $188,000 USD. Attainable must have a new definition that I am as of yet unfamiliar with.
The 540C will use a high strung mid-mounted 3.8L twin-turbocharged V8. This gem produces 532 hp which is sent to the rear wheels by means of a 7-speed SSG gearbox. The result is a car that will accelerate from 0 – 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.5 seconds, 0 – 200 km/h (124 mph) in a brief 10.5 seconds and will top out at 320 km/h (199 mph). For the green minded fans of fast cars there is start stop technology so you need not feel guilty about harming the environment. The EU combined cycle fuel economy rating of 25.5 mpg and emissions of 258 g/km are impressive given the nature of the car.
The 540C shares the same carbon fibre chassis and race derived technologies. The chassis benefits from a design that makes the cabin much easier to enter or exit. By using aluminum body panels the whole car only weighs 1,311 kg (2890 lbs), making it almost 150 kg lighter than the leanest competition.
Unless you are an aficionado you can be forgiven if you are unable to differentiate between the 570S and the 540C. Here is a hint: the 540C has been given a unique aerodynamic package and its own wheel design. Every inch of the body has been fussed over to ensure the air goes exactly where the engineers want it to, be it through the lower body work and over the hood to eliminate lift or through the channel in the dihedral doors and on to the air intakes in the rear quarter panels to cool the engine. The whole design is slippery and ends with a functional spoiler to help keep the rear wheels planted.
McLaren has rifled through the Formula 1 tech bin and borrowed the brake steer system that allows for late braking and helps keep the 540C pointed in the correct direction. Also from the bin are the suspension systems active dampers and dual wishbones which have been tamed in favour of daily use on public roads. The driver of course has the choice of how stiff the suspension will be with the option of Normal, Sport or Track handling settings.
The minimalist cabin looks like it belongs in a nearly $200,000 sports car. The centre console has a smaller than expected seven-inch IRIS touchscreen which controls the infotainment, A/C, DAB digital radio and sat nav. The inclusion of Bluetooth, voice activation and media streaming is standard.
The McLaren 540C takes all that is good from its larger siblings and puts it a package that should be much easier to use on a day to day basis. The only trouble could be the price. While it certainly is not cheap and is well beyond the bulk of us, for those with the means it may be hard to justify buying the cheapest car at the dealership.