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Ready for a fourth new McLaren? Meet the 540C

Ryan Ogurek

Apr 13, 2014
McLaren 540C Sports Series Sportscar Supercar 1.jpg

McLaren has made it quite apparent they intend to solidify themselves as a household name, adding yet another car to this year's lineup of new models. The 540C joins the Sports Series as an even softer, even more efficient, and less costly alternative to the 570S - without sacrificing the McLaren looks we now know so well, or the performance.

The 540C will be unveiled today in Shanghai as the little brother to the 570S. McLaren says it is even more focused on everyday use and efficiency than the 570S, which is of course, more focused on everyday use than its Super Series big brother, the 650S.

The 540C uses the same carbon fibre "MonoCell II" chassis as the 570S, with a 3.8 litre, twin turbo V8 sending 533 brake horsepower and 398 lb/ft of torque to the rear wheels. Coming in at a weight of 1,311 kg (2,890lbs) with lightweight options, the sportscar is capable of 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in just 3.5 seconds, 0-200 km/h (0-124 mph) in 10.5 seconds and a top speed of 320 km/h (199 mph).

McLaren says the 540C brings the McLaren name, heritage and performance to a new segment of the market. The sort of segment which demands the looks of the McLaren lineup, with day to day usability and refuses to pay a penny more than $200,000. Coming in a at a price of £126,000 the 540C is slightly cheaper than the 570S, putting it in the same price group as Porsche's 911.

So what we have then is really a softer, less powerful, slower (though still incredibly fast), more practical and less costly 650S, and I have to say, I was hoping for a tad more diversity amongst the sports series lineup. When McLaren first announced the Sports Series, I immediately became excited at the thought of an affordable McLaren with looks far from the wind tunnel sculpture that is the P1. I imagined a front engined two seater with the ability to go for groceries, and to shred a set of tyres. What we have instead is essentially five different packages, all with the same looks. But is that really a such bad thing?

What this means is that you can have all the prestige, performance and ability to turn heads of the P1, without the massive price tag or sacrifices in practicality. It means the mid engine, high speed looks we have come to recognize as purely McLaren will be more attainable, and therefore more common. Perhaps those who have privilege of owning a P1 or 650S will feel a certain sting because of this, but for me if this means I see them more often, that really isn't such a bad thing.

McLaren 540C Sports Series Sportscar Supercar 4.jpg McLaren 540C Sports Series Sportscar Supercar 5.jpg McLaren 540C Sports Series Sportscar Supercar 6.jpg McLaren 540C Sports Series Sportscar Supercar 7.jpg
McLaren 540C Sports Series Sportscar Supercar 8.jpg McLaren 540C Sports Series Sportscar Supercar 9.jpg McLaren 540C Sports Series Sportscar Supercar 11.jpg
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Apr 1, 2011
I love that interior, but to me it seems like the 12C, the 650S and this are all just the same thing with some different BHP numbers. McLaren's not the most creative company when it comes to car design. That's not to say the look bad, far from it! But they all look much the same.

Why don't they make an epic hot-hatch? Now that would be sweet!

Aidan Keranen

League of Legends Play by Play Caster
Dec 3, 2010
Just how much slower is the 540 to the 570 is my question. if very little, then is it really worth it?
and as much as I love McLaren, this hurts a little to see this, it just doesn't seem right at all. too many road cars for me
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Sep 14, 2013
First thing that came to my mind after seeing the car is that McLaren seriously needs to do a bit more creative in their design department, because at a glance this can be easily mistaken as a 570S, amidst the different front splitter design (same story with the wheels).
I understand that they wanted to enter a wholly new market segment that is, quoting the words of Mr. Ryan: "The sort of segment which demands the looks of the McLaren lineup, with day to day usability and refuses to pay a penny more than $200,000,"
but that doesn't mean that they have to duplicate its big brother and just give it a slight differing cosmetic changes that barely gets noticed unless being scrutinised (In my opinion, McLaren has to take a look at Porsche's not-so-recent mistake they made with the 1998-series 996's design, as said by Wikipedia, "Many criticized the 996's styling a great deal, largely because it shared its headlamps and dash; indeed much of its front end, mechanically — with the less expensive Boxster. The 996 had been on the drawing board first and was a more advanced car in some respects, but the cost-cutting seemed inappropriate for an expensive car." I think that a select few may be aware that the 540S may not have it all shared with the 570S, but to the greater few it can be mistaken as a similar car; but really, it's just my opinion).
At least if they wanted to enter a whole new market segment, they're better off with doing a unique, or at least distinguishable (at a glance) design that goes well whilst still maintaining to go on with their own design language.
But performance-wise, I really am optimistic that this car can put itself on top of the segment chain, or whatever that is.
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Oct 14, 2014
Yey a slight variant on an existing McLaren model! Just what we've all dreamed of!

Seriously. Why? They all just look like a variant of a P1, a 12c or both. Stupid really.
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Youssef Karam

Apr 1, 2014
*copy* *paste* *changes tiny detail* *changes name*
McLaren announcing a new car! The *insert three digit number next to a letter*!

Bram Hengeveld

RaceDepartment Founder
Staff member
Dec 26, 2006
Looks great though. I am a big fan of the McLaren interior.

The Lambo-styled doors however they can leave out for my part. Conventional doors please :)
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Apr 21, 2015
I like the P1, looks great but nowadays it seems like McLaren releases a new/same car every week. If they're going the mass/affordable/generic sports car route they should put more effort into it.