Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
In short, staggering. The engine fires with a suitably enthusiastic flare of revs then settles to a high-tech idle, and as soon as you engage D and pull away you notice there's a cohesiveness to the way the 650S conducts itself.
Even at low speeds it behaves impeccably. The transmission is smooth and unobtrusive, the steering is accurate but not too sharp, and the brakes demand just the right amount of effort to scrub off speed.
Of course, you come across such back-road nirvana only occasionally, because most of our motoring lives are spent in town, on the motorway or in jams. None of this matters in a 650S because while McLaren's engineers have managed to give the car sporty, immediate responses, they've managed to do so without compromising the ride quality in any way.
The way the 650S dispenses with bumps and potholes has to be experienced to be believed, even on the UK's notoriously rough road surfaces; it makes a Golf GTI seem a bit harsh. No other supercar offers this level of comfort.
Refinement is perfectly reasonable, too. The engine makes all the sorts of noises you want to hear, even if it doesn’t sound quite as good as a Ferrari 488 or an Audi R8, and while road noise is prevalent, it's entirely acceptable given the sheer footprint of rubber at each corner. If you want to turn up the volume on the engine, incidentally, you can lower the small screen behind the seats in the Spider version, so there's a bit of fresh air - and a lot more noise - at the back of your head.