With the recent release of the 570S, McLaren announced a new entry-level supercar was set to join its range. Now, McLaren ownership is set to get yet more accessible with the introduction of the 540C.
Sitting below the likes of the P1, 650S and 675LT the new models are aiming to take the likes of the Porsche 911 Turbo head-on. With the 540C and 570S looking so similar from the outside, what exactly is the difference? We’ve compared the two to figure it out.
From an aesthetic point of view, the differences between the two are very tricky – pretty much impossible, in fact – to spot. It’s easier to understand if you don’t think of the 540C and 570S as two different cars but, instead, two models from the same range.
As a result, aside from a new alloy wheel design (measuring 19 inches at the front and 20 at the rear) the pair look pretty much identical. That means you get the same family ‘face’ at the front, the thin LED strip of tail lights at the back, and an awesome-looking pair of ‘swan-wing’ doors in between.
McLaren refers to these car as ‘Sports Series’ models, and its aim is for the pair to be slightly more usable than the more extreme and expensive choices further up the range. One of the more obvious changes becomes apparent when you get into the cabin. The carbon fibre tub – shared with both the 650S and the P1 hypercar – has been modified to incorporate lower sills, making entry and exit much easier.
Like the outside, the 540C’s cabin remains the same as the one you’d find in the 570S. That’s no bad thing – the driver-focussed cockpit is trimmed in lashings of leather, while a seven-inch touchscreen takes care of most of the non-essential functions.
The clue to the biggest difference between the 540C and its bigger brother comes in their names. While both use the same 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8 petrol, the 540C’s unit offers 533hp (540PS), while the 570S produces… Yep, 562hp (570PS).
That loss of power results in a slight drop in performance – not that most people will notice though. Calling the 540C the ‘baby’ of the range is perhaps a little silly when you realise that it will still crack the 0-62mph sprint in 3.5 seconds, and keep going to its 199mph maximum speed. The 570S, however, will get to 62mph from rest three tenths of a second sooner, and breaks the 200mph barrier by a clear five miles per hour.
Thanks to a low weight and the inclusion of fuel-saving stop/start technology, McLaren claims both models are capable of an identical 25.5mpg – not bad for cars offering such staggering speed.
Compared to the rest of the McLaren range, the Sports Series models have a few more changes under the skin, and indeed on it. The bodywork of the 540C and 570S is crafted from aluminium rather than carbon fibre, which will allows McLaren to mass-produce the car more effectively than the rarer models further up the range. The 540C still weighs a fleet-footed 1,311 kilos – well below what a similar 911 Turbo can manage.
Between the two, the 540C gains revised dampers which aim to make the ride smoother than in the 570S, though both receive McLaren’s ‘Brake Steer‘ system, which subtly brakes the inside wheels during hard cornering to help tighten its line and resist understeer.
Prices and release date
Neither are cheap cars. Both have been priced competitively against rivals from Porsche. The 540C costs £126,000 and the 570S £143,250 – remarkably similar to the £120,598 and £142,120 of the Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S. So the big question is, if you’re fortunate enough to have the money, which would you have: Porsche or McLaren?
The 540C and 570S are available to pre-order now and deliveries are expected in early 2016.