What Is It?

The 2015 McLaren 650S is a new supercar. It sprints from standstill to 60 miles per hour in just 3.0 seconds and hits 124 mph in 8.4 seconds. Top speed is 207 mph.

Such figures (claimed by the manufacturer) are possible because a lightweight, predominantly carbon fiber body houses a 3.8-liter, mid-mounted, twin-turbo V8 that sends 641 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a 7-speed transmission. It takes carbon ceramic brake discs to slow it down.

Yet the 650S is not some stripped-out track hack but a well-appointed cruiser perfectly suited to a long haul. And then fire off a few fast laps at journey's end. A driver-adjustable suspension means it's as comfortable as it is compelling.

If the name McLaren doesn't ring any loud bells of recognition, don't worry. It's a British company that has forged a considerable reputation in racing. The rivalry between McLaren and Ferrari in Formula 1 is legendary. Seen the movie "Rush"? James Hunt was driving for McLaren against Niki Lauda's Ferrari.

The Prancing Horse has made road cars for years; McLaren much less so, but it seems to be making up for lost time. The company collaborated with Mercedes-Benz to produce the SLR, made between 2003 and 2010. And it built what has become something of an icon in Brit sports cars: the F1 (1992 to 1998), which had three seats and, like the 650S and SLR, scissor doors. It also makes the 2014 McLaren 12C, a car that shares a lot of its construction with the 650S.

How Much?

Nothing official yet, but there will be coupe and Spider (convertible) body styles. When the 2015 McLaren 650S goes on sale in the UK, the coupe starts at an approximate equivalent price of $326,600, the Spider at $360,100.

When Can You Get It?

Spring 2014.

Add It to Your Shopping List Because?

It's the newest thing and a refreshing alternative to Ferrari and Porsche offerings.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 BMW i8 -- If it's the shock of the new you're after, this could be the one. The i8 is a hybrid sports car. It's slower than the 650S to 60 mph by about 1.9 seconds and only has a top speed of 156 mph. But it will cost a mere $136,000 or so when it goes on sale later this year, and is guaranteed to turn heads.

2014 Ferrari 458 Italia -- Comes in coupe or Spider form, offers 562 horses to play with and comes standard with that unmistakable exhaust howl. Plenty of Formula 1-derived tech in here.

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S -- Some people might argue that a supercar shouldn't have its engine in the trunk. Yet it still works perfectly well for Porsche and any number of enthusiast drivers -- mainly because it's quick and sure-footed to an almost supernatural degree. The 911 also has a reputation for being a sports car that can be driven every day.

author photo

Colin Ryan has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

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