We recently told you that McLaren would soon be launching a new model positioned below the $184,900 570S that debuted earlier this month in New York. The new model, described as the most attainable McLaren ever, has now made its debut, appearing for the first time at this week’s 2015 Shanghai Auto Show.

It’s called the 540C, and it joins the 570S in McLaren’s new Sports Series sports car range. Breaking down the individual components of its name, the 540C comes with 540 metric horsepower (533 hp for us Americans) and club sport positioning, making it a more accessible and less extreme model in terms of character compared to the 570S.

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The 540C is essentially a detuned version of the 570S, as it's built around the same MonoCell carbon fiber monocoque chassis and is powered by the same version of the ubiquitous twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 engine sourced from Ricardo found in its big brother. A dry weight as low as 2,890 lbs is possible for the 540C when equipped with available lightweight components. This is achieved as a result of the carbon tub and the use of aluminum body panels.

Peak output in the 540C registers at 533 hp and 398 pound-feet of torque, which is enough for 0-62 mph acceleration in 3.5 seconds, 0-124 mph in 10.5 seconds, and a top speed of 199 mph. By comparison, the 570S will reach 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and top out somewhere around 204 mph. Like all modern McLaren road cars, drive in the 540C is to the rear wheels only and switching the gears is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

McLaren 540C

McLaren 540C

A subtly revised aerodynamic package and a dedicated cast alloy wheel design (19-inch up front and 20-in at the rear) mark out the 540C against the more powerful 570S. Unique aero blades below the front bumper channel cold, clean air through the lower bodywork and up over the sculpted hood, flanked by large LED headlamps. At the rear, the diffuser sits between the twin exhausts which exit below the rear bumper.

For handling, the 540C retains an F1-derived brake-based steering aid, which helps cornering through the application of braking force to the inside rear wheel. This enables later braking into corners, and earlier application of power on exit. The 540C also gets sophisticated suspension including front and rear anti-rollbars, dual wishbones and independent adaptive dampers. The damper tuning has been revised on the 540C, over 570S, with more focus on day-to-day road driving.

The interior is much the same as in the 570S. The car is luxuriously appointed with leather trim to the seats, dashboard and lower doors as standard. The floating-style center console features a seven-inch touchscreen which controls all elements of the infotainment system.

Unlike the previous 625C, which is limited to the Asian market, the 540C is being offered globally. Pricing for the U.S. market starts at just $165,000, and we can confirm that deliveries will commence in early 2016.

For more Shanghai Auto Show coverage, head to our dedicated hub.


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