The British have a long tradition of motor racing -- and supercars. And what better example than McLaren? Its motorsports team has been a fixture on the Formula One circuit since 1966, and in 1993 McLaren also began making hand-assembled sports cars.
Its Formula One R&D center is just around the corner from its commercial production facility -- a proximity that the 650S Spider benefits from. With "Brake Steer“ technology on board, originally designed by McLaren for Formula One, the inside rear wheel is slowed around turns -- aligning the front of the car to the apex of the curve. That means the driver can brake far later, and accelerate sooner. The system was banned in Formula One before it was even introduced.
The car takes its name from the 650 horsepower generated by the engine, which translates into serious pick-up. In 2013, it won McLaren the first of three successive "Engine of the Year“ awards. So for a piffling 255,000 euros you get road-going Formula One engineering.
On the occupant safety front there's a carbon-fiber monocoque -- another familiar feature from motor racing.
And the British engineers took a further cue from their Formula One creations with the 650S's "Airbrake" rear spoiler. It shifts up when the brakes are applied, to ensure maximum down-force and stability. During acceleration it retracts automatically, thereby reducing air resistance. It's similar to the famous "Drag Reduction System" or DRS used in Formula One.