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Geneva Motor Show: McLaren to unveil a somewhat new 650S supercar

McLaren is doing the mashup.

Making good on a promise to debut a new car every year for the foreseeable future, McLaren will use the Geneva Motor Show in March to unveil the 650S supercar.

Essentially a slightly faster version of the MP4-12C, the 650S also sets itself apart with a face that’s a near copy of McLaren’s wild, $1.15-million P1 hypercar. (Whether this actually counts as an entirely new model is debatable.)

PHOTOS: McLaren's 650S supercar

The 650S gets its name from the 650-metric horsepower it puts out (which is 641 horsepower in the States). That’s a bump of 25 horsepower over the lesser 12C, though the 650S uses the same twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V-8 engine. Power is pushed to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

McLaren will announce performance figures closer to the Geneva debut, but with updates made to elements of the 12C (including its active suspension and transmission), expect the zero-60 mph time to drop to the low three-second zone.

Other upgrades the 650S has over the 12C is increased grip as a result of the new nose, which McLaren said is good for a 24% bump in downforce at 150 mph. Rear downforce is also improved, thanks to engineers tweaking the airbrake.

"As always with McLaren, the new design is there for good engineering reasons," McLaren Automotive Chief Executive Mike Flewitt said in statement. "The newly designed front bumper improves downforce and steering turn-in. The high-speed handling balance is now even better."

Like the 12C, the 650S will come in coupe and spider (hardtop convertible) versions and both will be on hand on March 4 at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. McLaren insists that it will continue selling the 12C once the 650S goes on sale later this spring. Expect to pay a $30,000-$40,000 premium over the 12C.

When the car does officially break cover, it will actually be a bit of a letdown for sports-car fans, Earth-churning horsepower notwithstanding. McLaren is working on an entry-level model that would target the Audi R8s and high-end Porsche 911s of the world.

Many were hoping this would be the debut of the year, but that model is now expected in 2015. Peering deeper into McLaren’s calendar, a fifth model slotting between the new 650S and the P1 could debut in 2016.


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