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I Can’t Tell Apart the McLarens

I have a confession to make: I cannot tell apart the McLaren models. The 570S. The MP4-12C. The 675LT. The 540C. Whatever other models they have that are named like off-brand DVD players. I can’t tell any of them apart. They all look absolutely identical to me.

The exception, of course, is the P1 supercar. I can tell that one apart from the others for two reasons. First, it has a roof scoop, and none of the other ones do. And second, every time I see one, it’s being chased by a group of 13-year-old boys with cameras the size of bathroom hand-dryers. See the McLaren models for sale near you

But as for the other McLaren models, I’m useless. Usually, when I’m at Cars and Coffee and I see a McLaren, I say “Wow!” and then wait for someone else to tell me what kind it is. There are people out there who know all the little differences between all the McLaren models. Me, I just know they supposedly make four or five different cars, each with tremendously confusing names.

I don’t believe this is entirely my fault. When Ferrari makes different models, they’re all really distinct. There’s a midengine V8. There’s a station wagon. There’s a front-engine V12. There’s a V12 supercar that looks like something a fictional movie villain would drive. Nobody would ever confuse any of these cars. But McLaren… well… every single car they make has the same basic shape, the same midengine layout and the same basic size. And nobody has gotten this much use out of a 3.8-liter engine since General Motors was sticking them in Oldsmobile Intrigues.

Here, judge for yourself:

Now, I know people are going to jump in and tell me that the doors are different on one car, or the taillights are different on another car, and ask how it’s possible that this isn’t obvious to me, an automotive enthusiast? I’ll tell you how: because most other car companies that offer five different vehicles change more than just the taillights. Imagine if the Toyota 4Runner was just a Camry with different doors. That’s the situation we’re in here.

Case in point: The new 570S, which is one of the ones pictured above, is supposed to slot below the 650S in McLaren’s lineup. This much I know. So the 570S is less expensive than the 650S, and it’s less powerful, even though both cars use the same 3.8-liter turbocharged V8. Fine.

But there’s a problem: If you compare their sizes, the 570S is actually larger than the 650S, at 178.4 inches in length versus 177.5 inches. In other words, the “low-end” car is actually larger than the “high-end” car, and they both share the same engine, the same general performance and the same basic design. How are you supposed to tell them apart?

The answer: You ask one of the nearby 13-year-old boys with a camera the size of a bathroom hair dryer. They always know. Find a McLaren for sale

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. Here’s the real problem for me… don’t care. McLaren’s feel like the Toyota of the supercar world—no soul (go fast) appliance, with forgettable looks, lame logo, and as safe/composed as a supercar can be. No one said beige couldn’t be fast, and still boring.

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