McLaren launched its second model in the new Sports Series, the McLaren 540C Coupé during the recent Shanghai Motor Show. The most affordable McLaren yet, the 540C Coupé joins the recently revealed 570S Coupé in the Sports Series as the brand brings its race-derived DNA to a new audience and segment. These introductions bring the number of new McLarens launched in 2015 to four as the brand continues its rapid growth. Globally available and priced from £126,000, the 540C Coupé can be pre-ordered now with deliveries scheduled in early 2016.
The 540C Coupé is a pure McLaren and a pure sports car, sharing its DNA with the models in the Super Series and Ultimate Series, including a light-weight carbon fiber chassis and race-derived technologies. It is fitted with a mid-mounted 3.8-liter twin turbocharged V8 engine that has been developed to be responsive and thrilling, even at low engine speeds. The Sports Series is powered by an award-winning McLaren power unit that generates 540 PS at 7,500 rpm and 540 Nm of torque at 3,500-6,500 rpm. With stop-start technology, it offers optimized levels of efficiency and a longer range suited to the typical usage of cars in this segment.
At the heart of the 540C, as with the 570S, is the unique carbon fiber MonoCell II chassis, which has been newly-designed with a greater focus on day-to-day usability, offering improved ingress to and egress from the cabin, along with class-leading occupant protection and safety. A dry weight of as low as 1,311 kilograms is achieved as a result of this lightweight structure and the use of aluminum body panels. The 540C is almost 150 kg lighter than its closest competitor.
Power is delivered through the rear wheels via a seven-speed seamless shift gearbox (SSG) which, aided by the low weight of the 540C, sees 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) completed in 3.5 seconds, 0 to 200 kph (124 mph) in just 10.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 320 kph (199 mph). Given this level of performance, 25.5 miles per gallon on the European Union combined cycle and emissions of just 258 grams per kilometer are an impressive achievement.
A subtly revised aerodynamic package and a dedicated wheel design mark out the 540C Coupé against the more powerful 570S Coupé. Unique aero blades below the front bumper channel cold, clean air through the lower bodywork and up over the sculpted bonnet, flanked by large LED headlamps. At the rear, the diffuser sits between the twin exhausts that exit below the rear bumper. The aerodynamically-led styling of the Sports Series Coupé includes intricately designed dihedral doors that include the elegant floating door tendon. This design feature channels air along the length of the door into the two integrated air intakes mounted in the rear quarter panel. This creates a clean path for the air to flow along the bodywork with minimal drag, directing air to the flying buttresses at the rear of the cabin that optimize air flow over the rear deck to increase down-force levels and aid in engine cooling. An integrated spoiler at the trailing edge of the rear deck provides optimal down-force.
The 540C Coupé is fitted with distinctive new cast alloy wheels, available with silver or stealth finish, 19-inch at the front and 20-inch at the rear. These are fitted with Pirelli P Zero tires as standard, which have been developed specifically for the Sports Series to offer high levels of performance in all conditions, with progressive levels of grip and a focus on comfort. The 540C retains the Formula 1-derived Brake Steer system, designed to aid cornering through the application of braking force to the inside rear wheel. This enables later braking into corners, and earlier application of power on exit.
The 540C features a newly-developed suspension system that ensures enhanced levels of driver engagement and refinement on both road and track. The system uses front and rear anti-roll bars, Formula 1- style dual wishbones and independent adaptive dampers. The damper tuning has been revised on the 540C, with more focus on day-to-day road driving. Adaptive dampers offer control over bump and rebound settings using the familiar McLaren “Normal,” “Sport” and “Track” handling settings, with the Sports Series having its own unique damper settings. In “Normal” mode, the system provides a refined yet engaging ride, while the “Sport” and “Track” settings allow a greater level of focus and engagement when required. Twin damper valves ensure precise control, while dual wishbone suspension provides optimized levels of ride quality and driver feedback.