McLaren is continuing its steady stream of new sports cars with the 540C coupe, just launched at the Shanghai auto show. The 540C joins the 570S in the company’s Sports Series, the most affordable cars in McLaren’s lineup, positioned below the Super Series and Ultimate.
The 540C shares the company’s basic 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with almost everything else in its stable. In this application, it makes 532 hp (540 PS) at 7,500 rpm and 398 lb-ft (540 Nm) of torque at 3,500 rpm. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission sends power to the rear wheels. The setup is good for a 3.5-second sprint to 62 mph, 10.5-second sprint to 124 mph and a top speed of 199 mph.
Like the 570S, the 540C uses the company’s MonoCell II chassis, which McLaren says has been modified with a focus on day-to-day usability. Dry weight is measured at 2,890 pounds; McLaren says that’s almost 330 pounds lighter than the car’s closest competitor.
The McLaren 540C gets luxury items like Bluetooth and navigation.
The aerodynamic package is new and comes with unique aero blades below the front bumper, a rear diffuser and two integrated air intakes that allow a clean path of airflow over the engine and across the spoiler.
It gets its own wheel design with a silver or dark finish, wrapped in 19-inch front and 20-inch rear Pirelli P Zero tires. Its F1-derived Brake Steer system aids cornering by applying the inside brakes in a turn, helping to “pull” the car through the corner; front and rear antiroll bars, a dual-wishbone suspension setup and independent adaptive dampers keep everything planted at speed. The 540C has normal, sport and track modes, which progressively firm up the suspension.
Inside, the McLaren gets all the features one would expect … from a luxury car. It has real door handles, air conditioning, a 7-inch touchscreen, navigation and Bluetooth, despite its featherlight curb weight.
The McLaren 540C goes on sale in “select global markets” in 2016 for $165,000. But it won’t be available in North or South America yet. We’ll have to stick with the slightly faster (and more expensive) 570S coupe, which goes on sale in late 2015.