Is the McLaren 540c the perfect way into supercar ownership?
Let's say you are a relatively influential individual who is looking to finally buy their way into supercar ownership after years of saving, what do you go for? There are huge range of options ranging from the cheaper, older supercars such as the £32,000 Gen 1 Audi R8 all the way up to the more modern £165,000 Ferrari 488. The opportunities are simply endless. But what if I told you it is possible to get into a modern day McLaren supercar for around £90,000. You would spit out your tea wouldn't you?
I have taken a keen interest in the McLaren 540c in recent weeks and have discovered the prices to be at an all time low. This is by no means a bad thing as the 540c isn't as unreliable as some other McLaren's we have seen around today. I would also like to add as a side note, that I have disapproved of McLaren quite a bit in the past but have come to the recent realisation that they have in fact made some cracking cars when you look past the flames, flaws and fickle nature many models seem to have.
Anyway, this article isn't about me, but rather about the mighty McLaren 540c which was first introduced to us in 2016 in a small town called Woking in Surrey. The 540c is essentially a cheaper and slightly less powerful version of the 570s. This means it is the entry level supercar from the British manufacturer, and what a car it is. It looks just like a 570s but for cheaper, what more could you want?
People who have driven both the 570s and 540c can't really tell the difference between the two on public roads, I'm sure it is a completely different story on track, or is it? There are some very subtle exterior differences such as large side skirts on the 570s as well as a slightly longer front splitter and more aggressive rear diffuser, but the differences are so minor it could fool most people. In terms of power, it is quite easy to work out the difference as it's in the name. The 570s has (yep, you guessed it) 570 horsepower whereas the 540c has 30 hp less. Whether this seems like a lot to you or not, you would have to experience them to tell if there is a real difference of not.
The 540c comes with a 3.8L twin-turbocharged V8 engine which seems to feature in every other McLaren at the moment but this is all for a good reason. It is a great engine. It performs well, admittedly with a light drizzle of turbo lag, but you can gloss over that. It also sounds great. It may not have the same great sound which a Ferrari 458 may put out but it's a great sound nonetheless. You can hear much more turbo spool noises if you fit a slightly louder exhaust too.
Yes, the exterior looks good but you won't be spending your whole time sat on the bonnet will you? The inside is where you will be spending most of your time. I find all McLaren interiors to be really rather plush and elegant. You can opt for leathers or alcantara or both together. They really let you have a bit of fun with the interior which I like. You can make it as track focussed as possible or as GT car as you like. As this is a 540c, I would have thought comfort would be at the top of ones list. It has a modern infotainment system, soft ride, soft hides of leather and an overall very driver focussed cabin.
So, I guess if you were to put this up against a Porsche 911 for example, it may not beat it in space but it would certainly rival it in terms of comfort, sound, speed and track capability. Don't forget the added street cred you would get with a McLaren over a Porsche too. The other good thing about buying a 540c now would be that someone else has already taken the hit from depreciation. These started at around £129,000 back in the day whereas now they are worth around £85,000 for a decent spec and average miles and around £95,000 for a high spec one with low miles.
I don't think many people are buying sports series McLarens as investments but if you are looking for some weekend or even daily entry level supercar fun then there isn't much else around. Sure, you could risk buying an older 12c for around £70k but the reliability issues with that are a bit of a turn off. But, if you can afford the insurance and sometimes high running costs then why not give it a go?