IN THE 20 years since McLaren last won the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race, a lot has happened. Values of the F1, the car that powered to the chequered flag ahead of the chasing pack, have soared, and the company has launched a road car division that has tried — but not quite succeeded — to topple Ferrari from its spot as maker of the world’s most desirable supercars.
To mark the anniversary and — cynics might suggest — cash in on a high point that may help sell more cars than does McLaren’s current poor form in Formula One, the company has launched the 650S Le Mans. At £244,500, it costs almost £50,000 more than the 650S coupé it is based on. That is enough, for example, to put a new Porsche Cayman S in the garage.
What do buyers get? Well, the bad news is that the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, suspension and brakes are unchanged, so those hoping for an even more extreme version of the 650S, along the lines of Ferrari’s 458 Speciale, should look elsewhere. Mind you, with a 641bhp engine, the 650S Le Mans is no slouch. This is a machine capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in just three seconds and charging on to 207mph.
The good news, especially for those with an eye for detail and a knack for being the pub bore, is that McLaren called on the services of Peter Stevens, the designer responsible for styling the original McLaren F1.
Stevens has added an air intake on the roof — a nod to the Le Mans-winning F1 GTR — and fitted a host of carbon-fibre skirts, spoilers and air vents. He has chosen McLaren’s signature orange for the brake callipers and there are Le Mans logos on the seats and floor mats, which doesn’t sound much different from the GTI logos found in the sub-£27,000 hot hatch Golf.
With only 50 models being made, it may be that collectors prepared to speculate will view the 650S Le Mans as a car worth snapping up and setting down, like a fine — if rather expensive — bottle of wine.
McLaren 650S Le Mans specifications
- Price: £244,500
- Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol
- Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
- Power: 641bhp
- Torque: 500 lb ft
- Performance: 0-62mph in 3.0sec
- Top speed: 207mph
- Release date: On sale now
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