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Is Woking's Super Series car more than just a rehashed 12C?

Having given both the 12C and the subsequent Spider version a full road test examination, it’s possible that we could be accused of showing McLaren’s mainstay a little too much attention.

The latest 650S, however, is much more than simply the recipient of a cut-and-paste copy of the P1’s shapely nose.

The McLaren's roof folds away in about 15 seconds, at the push of a button

The Surrey-based manufacturer claims that more than a quarter of the car is new, and while the fundamentals remain – including its carbonfibre tub and twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8 – this is a go-faster version in every meaningful respect.

McLaren insists that the 650S is the product of lessons it learnt while building not only the 12C but also the much quicker and more sophisticated P1.

Between them they make up the car’s immediate family tree, but more distantly there are the road cars built before the firm dedicated itself to purely automotive pursuits — namely, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and the F1, the latter proving influential enough to provide a hypercar touchstone almost 20 years after production ended.

The 650, of course, stands for the engine’s metrically measured power output, while the S stands for Sport. One could be forgiven for thinking the designation redundant in McLaren’s tiny line-up, especially since the firm confirmed that the 12C would be discontinued.

The car that is, in effect, then, the 650S’s predecessor rather than its range sibling provides one of the more obvious questions: is this the car the 12C should have been from day one? Is it wholly fabulous or still very slightly flawed? Let's find out.

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