Which McLaren supercar is which?

By topgear, 03 June 2020

Many numbers. Much horsepower. A three-tier road car range that ranges in power from 540hp to 1,050hp. McLaren it seems, is rather serious about this whole ‘performance’ business.

There are three levels: the ‘Sports Series’, the ‘Super Series’, and the ‘Ultimate Series’, as well as a rogue model - the GT - that doesn’t slot into any of them.

And yet, despite McLaren telling us the cars are all different and only share a modicum of DNA – the carbon tub, the engine – you’d be forgiven for getting them a little bit mixed up.

Top Gear then, is here to help. We’ve compiled a handy spotter’s guide - a big list of every modern McLaren supercar built in this new age of Woking’s performance car business.

Some have sold out already, some you can buy. All however, you can gawp at…

STORY Vijay Pattni

Sports Series: McLaren 540C

Engine 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 540hp/540Nm
Kerbweight: 1311kg
0-100km/h: 3.5s
Top speed: 320km/h

What we say: “So, the new baby, ‘baby’ McLaren, gets the same mid-mounted 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine as the rest of the McLarens, only here, it produces 540hp (hence the name), and 540Nm of torque.

“That’s fed through the same 7spd twin-clutcher to the rear wheels, to record a 0-100km/h time of 3.5secs (3.2s for the 570S), a 0-200km/h time of 10.5secs and a top speed of 320km/h. The 570S tops out at 328km/h.

“The ‘MonoCell’ carbon tub remains the same too, though here it’s been redesigned to make getting in and out of the thing easier. Aluminium body panels also help keep the weight down to 1311kg - just 2kg lighter than the 570S.”

(Click HERE to read our McLaren 570S review)

Sports Series: McLaren 570S

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 570hp/600Nm
Kerbweight: 1313kg
0-100km/h: 3.2s
Top speed: 328km/h

What we say: “Where Ferrari favours steering so quick it’s almost nervous, this McLaren feels, well, peerless. It’s feelsome, direct and puts the car exactly where you want it.

“This feel and sensitivity bring colossal confidence. It helps that the car never seems to grow around you or lose its agility. Instead you get utterly caught up in the process of accelerating, braking, steering and shifting. Because the suspension isn’t trying anything too tricky, it feels beautifully natural, and the car moves with the road.”

(Click HERE to read our McLaren 570S review)

Sports Series: McLaren 570S Spider

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 570hp/600Nm
Kerbweight: 1359kg
0-100km/h: 3.2s
Top speed: 315km/h (roof down), 328km/h (roof up)

What we say: “It becomes the fourth variant of McLaren’s Sport Series range – alongside the 540C, 570S Coupe and 570GT – and, most importantly, will allow you to go 315km/h flat out (where applicable) with the roof down. [insert your own toupée gag here]

“That roof is a retractable, two-piece hardtop unit, built using lightweight composite panels finessed in the 650S Spider and banzai 675LT Spider models. So it’ll work. Properly.

“You simply push a button, and that folding hardtop opens or closes in 15secs, at speeds of up to 40km/h. Further – and just like you can on an Audi R8 V10 Spyder – there’s a wind deflector that can be raised or lowered with the roof up (and down, obvs). The upshot of this is when the weather is poor but you need noise…”

Sports Series: McLaren 570GT

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 570hp/600Nm
Kerbweight: 1350kg
0-100km/h: 3.4s
Top speed: 328km/h

What we say: “There’s magic here. It’s a marvellously engaging thing. The cornering is connected and confident, happy to give you options. The steering is all feel but little corruption. As ever in a McLaren, the carbon tub has a stiffness and integrity you can always sense.

“The engine might not be the best-sounding V8 in the world but it chases to 8000-plus like it’s running away from a volcano. (It was, where we drove it, albeit a dormant one.) The gearshift is alert, the ratios well-chosen.

“So it’s properly fast, yet not intimidating. Everything just gels.”

Sports Series: McLaren 600LT

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 600hp/620Nm
Kerbweight: 1247kg
0100km/h: 2.9s
Top speed: 329km/h

What we say: “Key word: dissection. This is the one thing I took away from the 600LT – the sheer feel, accuracy, precision and control it gives you. In this regard it’s even more impressive than the 675LT.

“It’s how the 600LT gets itself into the corner that most impresses. And that starts the moment you hit the brakes. The pedal is reassuringly firm, the bite is huge and the ABS barely intrudes, so it feels like the car has basically snagged an aircraft carrier’s arrester wire. There’s barely any dive and no differential to get twisted up once you start to turn, so the LT is clean and flat into the corner.

“It changes direction in a way that defies belief for anything running on modest 225-width tyres…”

(Click HERE to read our First Drive of the McLaren 600LT)

Sports Series: McLaren 600LT Spider

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 600hp/620Nm
Kerbweight: 1297kg
0-100km/h: 2.9s
Top speed: 324km/h

What we say: “There’s more to this LT than just the fact it’s a faster, harder Sports Series model. It delivers such compelling handling accuracy, tactility and sharpness that it’s something else entirely – another roadster in the mould of the 675LT Spider that gives away so little ability to its hard-top sibling that all sneering comments about roadsters not being for serious drivers can be ignored.

“Yes, it’s a convertible, but it’s at its best with the roof up, rear window lowered. For the noise, which is markedly better here than in any other Sports Series McLaren. But when all’s said and done, it’s just awesome to drive – another Long Tail that deserves its place on McLaren’s model roster on talent alone.”

(Click HERE to read our First Drive of the McLaren 600LT Spider)

Wildcard: McLaren GT

Engine: 3994cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 620hp/630Nm
Kerbweight: 1,530kg
0-100km/h: 3.2s
Top speed: 326km/h

What we say: “This is a really good car. The more you drive it the easier that verdict becomes. The harder question is whether it’s the answer to the ‘grand touring’ question.

“Remarkably, the driving experience comes close to a 570S. Yet the refinement and ride comfort are a big step ahead. Actually, better than the GT’s front-engined rivals, which try to compensate for their weight by running stiff springs and sharp damping and very noisy tyres.

“But the mid-engined layout does impose its own compromises. The cabin is too cramped, not so much for the people but for objects. And the load space, although big, demands you pack it thoughtfully. In the end then this is a compromised GT. But the thing is, so are all the rivals, albeit for different reasons. Small wonder the cars most rich people really use for long trips are SUVs. But for people who love driving, this McLaren will do the GT job like nothing else.”

(Click HERE to read about the McLaren GT)

Super Series I: McLaren 12C (off sale)

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 600hp (later 625hp)
Kerbweight: 1434kg
0-100km/h: 3.3s
Top speed: 328km/h

What we say: “Below 3,000rpm, not a huge amount happens. But keeping your foot on the throttle around there is like loitering around a lit firework, waiting to see if it’s actually going to go off. When it does, you’ll blooming well know about it.

“Burst through that point of the rev range and the 12C has the frenetic runaway sensation of the very best turbocharged cars, where the view out the side windows is moving at a quicker rate than your brain can fully handle.”

(Click HERE to read about the McLaren MP4-12C & a DeLorean DMC-12)

Super Series I: McLaren 650S (off sale)

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 650hp/678Nm
Kerbweight: 1428kg
0-100km/h: 3.0s
Top speed: 333km/h

What we say: “Choose a middle gear, settle into middle revs, and prepare to be flabbergasted. Floor the throttle and the McLaren’s newfound surge is stupefying, a mountain of mid-range turbo’d torque that blends into a cascade of glass-sharp power searing towards 8500rpm.

“This is performance at a level well beyond any V8 Ferrari or V10 Lambo. And McLaren’s engine now lacks little in progressive throttle response or aggressive sounds.”

(Click HERE to read about the McLaren 650S Spider)

Super Series I: McLaren 650S Spider (off sale)

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 650hp/678Nm
Kerbweight: 1468kg
0-100km/h: 3.0s
Top speed: 328km/h

What we say: “The Spider has a hard roof so is as protective as the coupe when the roof is up in place, and it looks almost as good, and has almost as much storage space. Roof down, there’s a whole new level of sensation and noise and drama. Eight out of 10 McLaren-owning cats prefer the Spider.”

(Click HERE to read about the McLaren 650S Spider)

Super Series I: McLaren 675LT (sold out)

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 675hp/700Nm
Kerbweight: 1230kg
0-100km/h: 2.9s
Top speed: 330km/h

What we say: “The result is a car that attacks corners with an insatiable hunger, relaying every morsel of information into the palms of your hands, while remaining astonishingly composed over sudden crests, surface imperfections, or ugly camber changes.

“Rarely have compliance and cornering agility come together to such spectacular effect.”

(Click HERE to read our 675LT review)

Super Series I: McLaren 675LT Spider (all sold out)

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 675hp/700Nm
Kerbweight: 1270kg
0-100km/h: 2.9s
Top speed: 326km/h

What we say: “Because the 675’s carbon tub is so strong, McLaren says no extra reinforcement was required for the convertible. Which means the 675LT Spider remains light – with a dry weight of 1270kg, it’s some 100kg more lissom than the not-very-heavy-at-all 650S Spider, and just 40kg heavier than the 675LT Coupe. Thank extensive use of carbonfibre for the bodywork.

“The roof is McLaren’s favourite three-piece folding hard-top, carried over wholesale from the 650S Spider. It can be opened at speeds of up to 30km/h, which would be helpful but for the fact it’ll prove all but impossible to travel as slowly as 30km/h in the 675.”

Super Series II: McLaren 720S

Engine: 3994cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 720hp/770Nm
Kerbweight: 1419kg
0-100km/h: 2.9s
Top speed: 341km/h

What we say: “We’d go so far as to say this is probably the single most accomplished supercar we’ve ever driven, which is not the sort of statement we make lightly. Remember, though, that McLaren was burned back in the day by a perceived lack of soul in its early cars, and we all know that it’s the indefinable bits that usually elevate a supercar.

“First impressions here are great: steering feel is impossible to measure objectively, but the 720S has that road/car/driver telepathic thing absolutely nailed – it moves like a big Lotus Elise.

“It’s monumentally fast, possesses the sort of high-speed balance and stability that bespeaks absolute mastery of aerodynamics, and somehow refuses to punish you even on truly execrable road surfaces.”

(Click HERE for our McLaren 720S review)

Super Series II: McLaren 720S Spider

Engine: 3994cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 720hp/770Nm
Kerbweight: 1468kg
0-100km/h: 2.9s
Top speed: 341km/h

What we say: “What sets the 720S Spider apart from rivals isn’t that it’s more exciting to drive, but that it has a greater range of abilities. As it did with the coupe, McLaren has focused just as much on usability as driving prowess. Features such as the electro-chromatic roof and glass rear buttresses don’t just look good, but serve useful functions.

“Does it look as distinctively different as the glass-backed coupe? Maybe not quite, but this is still a very well executed piece of design. It speaks softly, but carries a big stick. We said that about the coupe, we said it was arguably the world’s most complete supercar. The same is true of the roadster.”

Super Series II: McLaren 765LT

Engine: 3994cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 765hp/800Nm
Kerbweight: 1,339kg
0-100km/h: 2.7s
Top speed: 329km/h

What we say: “Driven a McLaren 720S lately? We have, it’s almost too quick. Not on the track of course, because there you can actually use all the performance, but on public roads it’s just ballistic.

“But when has too fast ever been a problem for McLaren? It’s a car we all knew was coming, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking. Allow us to introduce the 765LT – a harder, faster cousin to the 720S and the car that could make a Ferrari 488 Pista look pedestrian.”

(Click HERE to read about the McLaren 765LT)

Ultimate Series: McLaren P1 (all sold out)

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo with electric motor
Power: 915hp/900Nm
Kerbweight: 1490kg
0-100km/h: 2.8s
Top speed: 350km/h

What we say: “It feels a bit like a beautifully made Lotus, light and agile and clear. The tech all works: press the EV-mode button and the V8 dies and you can drive around on just electric (we managed 12km on the motorway at 128km/h in Europe, and more in town). And when you let everything off the leash? It’ll shatter your idea of what fast really means. Warp time.”

Ultimate Series: McLaren P1 GTR (all sold out)

Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo with electric motor
Power: 1000hp
Kerbweight: 1440kg
0-100km/h: sub 2.8s
Top speed: 320km/h+

What we say: “How has McLaren managed to make a 1000hp car this approachable, this drivable? The set-up is astonishing. There’s so much feel through the chassis, the steering is so beautiful to use, you always know precisely where you are with it.

“You can take it to the limit – how ridiculous is that in a car with an Ariel Nomad’s weight of downforce working on it? The speeds are outrageous, just bananas, but the GTR is so talkative and engaging you can use everything it’s got, rely on the whiff of understeer to let you know the car is working hard.”

Ultimate Series: McLaren Senna (all sold out)

Engine: 3994cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 800hp/800Nm
Kerbweight: 1,198kg
0-100km/h: 2.8s
Top speed: 334km/h

What we say: “There is a sense here that the Senna is a bit too professional, a bit too advanced in its abilities and limits to be accessible, a bit too ruthlessly clinical maybe. But that’s the sort of car it is, a car that’s better than you are, a car that’ll rip tracks to pieces and leave you sweating and breathing hard. An adrenaline rush.

“But a very polished one – it’s notably less edgy than a P1 GTR for instance, still detectably a road car underneath, with a bit of bandwidth at the edges. You might get sweaty everywhere else, but it’s not a car that’ll give you sweaty palms. Well, apart from the first time you think you’ve out-braked yourself, only to suddenly discover you’re now going very slowly and are still some distance from the corner…”

Ultimate Series: McLaren Senna GTR (all sold out)

Engine: 3994cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 825hp/800Nm
Kerbweight: 1,188kg

What we say: “The Senna GTR gives you so much confidence. Because it responds exactly as you want, at the moment you demand it. Because the downforce glues it harder to the track the faster you go, so it feels ultra-secure in a straight line. It’s a faithful, predictable companion. Terrifying to look at, deeply intimidating as you head out of the pits, wrenched tight into carbon buckets and gripping the little rubberised wheel. But somewhere a little over halfway around lap one, you’ve already sussed it. So you go faster. Brake later. Get scrappy. Start making mistakes.

“The Senna GTR likes to be driven like a racing car, and demands a certain technique – especially in the slow corners – to get the best from it. The problem is that, although this sounds bonkers, 825bhp just isn’t enough. The old P1 GTR was 1,000bhp. Rougher around the edges, a bit sketchier, but bloody memorable. The Senna GTR is, as McLaren promised, much more accessible, more trustworthy, stable and precise.”

(Click HERE to read the review of the Senna GTR)

Ultimate Series: McLaren Speedtail (all sold out)

Engine: 3994cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 1,050hp
Kerbweight: 1,430kg
0-100km/h: n/a
Top speed: 402km/h

What we say: “The moment you pop the McLaren Speedtail’s dihedral door and shuffle over a passenger seat squab and then settle into the slender, solo bucket seat, the multi-million dollar price becomes irrelevant. Instantly, you are any of the things your inner car-child could possibly dream – a fighter pilot, a racing driver, a McLaren F1 wannabe.

“The Speedtail has a claimed top speed of 402km/h. Having driven a Chiron and felt the way the McLaren pulls north of three hundred and twenty, I can only say that claim seems very conservative.

“This isn’t a track car. There will be no talk of lap times and all that balls – this is a road car, a grand touring super-machine in the mould of a Miura or a Daytona but extrapolated to a point where, if it were possible, it could travel as fast as a light aircraft. This is the future we read about in Eighties car magazines, before congestion and crumbling road networks, before our species contracted its current, loathsome aversion for speed.”

(Click HERE to read our Speedtail review)

Ultimate Series: McLaren Elva

Engine: 3994cc V8 twin-turbo
Power: 815hp/800Nm
Kerbweight: TBC
0-100km/h: sub 3.0s
Top speed: TBC

What we say: “Meet the lightest McLaren road car ever, and seemingly Woking’s tribute to the wealth of heroically stripped-out track specials Great Britain has a fine tradition of producing. The McLaren Elva is described as ‘a ferociously fast open-cockpit car’ and fits into the company’s top-line Ultimate Series, following in the footsteps of the P1 and Senna and sitting alongside the new Speedtail.

“While no actual kerb weight has been announced, you can bet on something comfortably below the 1,198kg claimed by the Senna. After all, there’s no roof, windows or windscreen here while the doors are McLaren’s smallest ever and are single-hinged just for shaving even more grammes. The tub is naturally carbon, but so’s every panel too.

“You can wear a helmet, or you can specify a windscreen, but McLaren suggests you’ll need neither. The Active Air Management System (AAMS) uses a movable carbon deflector to direct air from the Elva’s nose and up through the front clam ahead of the occupants, projecting it over them creating something less prosaically named “a relative bubble of calm” beneath.”

(Click HERE to read all about the McLaren Elva)

Coming soon: a McLaren SUV

Haha! Not really. McLaren categorically won’t do an SUV, despite its major rivals all committing to big, luxury 4x4s as part of the portfolio. Want to know the reasons why? (Click HERE to find out why)

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