Corvette Forum Quick Spin: McLaren 650S

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McLaren 650S Video Still from Manuel Carrillo III (1)

I haven’t had the chance to drive a 2015 Corvette Z06 yet, but I think getting to drive the McLaren 650S will hold me over.

First, let me get this out of the way: its base price is $265,500, it has nine fewer horses galloping off the flywheel than the supercharged 650-hp/650-lb-ft LT4, it’s down 150 lb-ft of torque to that super Corvette mill, and it’s .88 seconds slower than the manual Z06 around Big Willow.

Once you drive the McLaren 650S, though, you forget all about price, power figures and lap times. This car is magical. I only had 20 minutes with it on some choice ribbons of California tarmac, but the encounter was long enough to tell you the McLaren 650S doesn’t suck.

McLaren 650S Video Still from Manuel Carrillo III (2)

Expectedly, it’s fast. I got to ride in it before I drove it. You can feel the 3.8L twin-turbo V8’s acceleration more as a passenger than when you’re nestled in the driver’s seat.

I never understood why those kids huffed Freon and did keg stands. Now I do.

When my pro driver Craig Stanton squeezed on the throttle for the first time in our ride together, I found the power delivery one step above blinding. It was disorienting.

I remember in junior high school, acquaintances of mine would brag that they had huffed Freon. Apparently they enjoyed the variety of near-death disorientation that refrigerant offered. In high school many of my pals loved doing keg stands. They were fond of the resultant disorienting “beer high”. I never really understood why those kids did those things. Now I do.

You don’t have to admit it to me, but if you liked doing either of those things in your youth, then the McLaren 650S is probably the supercar for you.

McLaren 650S Video Still from Manuel Carrillo III (3)

As someone who has tested the Audi R8 V10 and the Ferrari 458 Italia, I can at least tell you the McLaren stacks up well against those cars. Aside from the carbon-fiber tub’s intrusion into the footwell, the 650S would be a fine everyday driver. This car’s roll-bar-free Proactive Chassis Control suspension is beyond well-sorted. I think this supercar may ride better than the Bentley Flying Spur I drove six weeks ago.

Related: Corvette Forum Gives the Audi R8 V10 a Try >>

If I were to affix a vertical acceleration measurement device to the McLaren 650S and drive down a bumpy road, I’d be unsurprised if it were to return a smoother reading than the Flying Spur. Every year, supercar companies are building machinery that is better for both the track and the grocery store parking lot, but this suspension feels like McLaren cheated by invoking spirits into its hydraulically linked adaptive dampers.

McLaren 650S Video Still from Manuel Carrillo III (5)

Here’s some comfort food for supercar thought: the McLaren 650S is also civilized enough to travel at speeds below 12 mph. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is programmed to be smooth at parking lot pace. The Audi R8 V10 was civilized in this regard, too. The Ferrari 458 Italia was not. Like I said in my 458 review, if you ever find yourself driving a Ferrari 458 Italia in a parking lot, “just get out of the car and walk.”

So, yeah, it’s nice there is another option in the supercar market where all speeds are enjoyable — not just the higher ones.

Related: Corvette Forum has a Ferrari Fling at the Track >>

In May we’ll have more time with the 650S when McLaren loans one to Jonathon Klein. Consequently, there will be more driving impressions, and we’ll be filming a full-featured car review for it, too, so stay tuned.

McLaren 650S Video Still from Manuel Carrillo III (8)

In the meantime, enjoy some beautiful B-roll I shot of the McLaren 650S. My camera stabilization equipment came in handy because driving the British supercar left me all high and clumsy like those keg-standing kids huffing freon.

Chime in with your thoughts on the forum. >>

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