For the second time in the last month or so, McLaren have revealed the least powerful and slowest car in their current lineup! After revealing their new 911 Turbo-rivaling 570S at the New York International Auto Show, McLaren have debuted the 540C in Shanghai. It looks exactly the same as the 570S, it's powered by an even less powerful version of the same engine, and I personally don't understand why it's being sold anywhere outside of the Asian market. Allow me to explain why.
When the 570S was revealed, it was poised to be the introduction to the McLaren range. It was supposed to be the lowest offering in the lineup (performance-wise), while still providing an incredible driving experience. Despite its status as the "baby McLaren," it was still powered by McLaren's wonderful 3.8 liter, twin-turbo V8, which produced a healthy 562 horsepower. This allowed the car to sprint from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds on the way to its 204 mph top speed. Not bad for the baby of the range. But now, almost immediately after its launch, McLaren seem to be trying to undermine the purpose of this wonderful machine by introducing the 540C.
The 540C is powered by the same 3.8 liter V8 as the 570S. But, as the name suggests, it has been detuned to producing a mere 533 horsepower (540 PS). This has resulted in the 0-60 time increasing to 3.5 seconds, with the top speed resulting in a slightly disappointing 199 mph. The power is sent to the rear wheels through the same dual-clutch transmission as the 570S. The car's carbon tub is also nearly identical to the 570S. Speaking of nearly identical, I believe I've already mentioned that the car looks very, very, very similar to the 570S.
As I previously stated, I'm having an extremely hard time understanding why McLaren have decided to sell this car outside of the Asian market. Instead of the 650S (which is the 570S' bigger brother for those who don't know), those customers drive the 625C, which is essentially a slightly slower version of the same car. So after introducing the 570S, it would make sense for McLaren to introduce the 540C to that market. But why does the rest of the world need it?
At the moment, I really don't like the idea of the 540C reaching customers in the United States, and here's why. I really like the 570S. After seeing it in the flesh in New York, I was convinced that McLaren did a fantastic job with their newest model, and I (of course) fantasized about having enough money to consider ordering one. But, with the 540C becoming available, what is the purpose of the 570S? As the majority of owners won't take the cars to track days anyways, what's the point in paying more for the 570S when the 540C looks exactly the same, and, in the real world, is every bit as fast? I really do like the 570S a lot, but, in markets where both cars are available, I see no reason whatsoever to choose it over the 540C. And that's why I don't like the 540C very much. It took a car I liked and turned it into a nonsensical decision.