German tuner introduces itself to the MP4-12C’s successor

When you bring up the name Gemballa, the most common automaker that can be associated with the tuner is Porsche. Browse through some of its programs and you’ll notice that just about every modern-day Porsche has been treated to a tuning program or two by the German aftermarket company. But Gemballa isn’t just all about the Porsches. It’s also built kits for BMWs and more recently, for McLarens, most of which were for the MP4-12C, or more commonly known these days as the 12C. Recently, Gemballa added a new McLaren into its portfolio and to no one’s surprise, it’s for the 12C’s successor, the 650S.

Aptly named the Gemballa GT similar to those past kits for the 12C, this new McLaren tuning program has a little bit of something for all facets of the 650S. There are aerodynamic modifications to the exterior, customizable interior upgrades, and an engine modification that adds more power to the existing amount already found in the 650S’s 3.8-liter turbocharged V-8 engine. In other words, it’s a typical tuning program for Gemballa. Or is it?

As you’ll find out in a bit, this kit offers something a little bit different than what the German tuner is used to producing. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing likely depends on what kind of changes a prospective client wants on his or her McLaren 650S. Some might like it. Some might not. Either way, it’s probably going to be the first of a handful of programs Gemballa has in store for the 650S. That much I can say at this point.

Continue after the jump to read the full review.

  • 2016 McLaren 650S by Gemballa
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    670
  • Torque @ RPM:
    537
  • Displacement:
    3.8 L
  • Top Speed:
    207 mph (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 McLaren 650S by Gemballa High Resolution Exterior
- image 672637
Gemballa’s exterior program for the McLaren 650S is evident at first glance

Gemballa’s exterior program for the McLaren 650S is evident at first glance. The front section stayed relatively the same, but the flanks and the rear of the supercar both received new components, replacing the standard set with carbon fiber versions. The inner wheel arches and the side sills, in particular, are all finished in carbon fiber. A new rear apron with an integrated diffuser is also included in the program, aiding in the reduction of lift on the rear axle and keeping the 650S in tip-top condition.

Gamble finished off the exterior program for the McLaren is a new set of 20- and 21-inch GForged-one light wheels that Gemballa says were developed using forged technology. Interested customers even have a choice of getting Gunmetal, Black Magic, or diamond cut-finished wheels depending on what they think fits their 650S units. The tuner also recommends wrapping the wheels in 245/30ZR20 tires at the front and 305/25ZR21 tires at the back.

Interior

The unique thing about Gemballa’s approach to the interior of the cars it builds programs for is that it allows customers to do what they want with it. The German tuner provides one of the most comprehensive individualization programs in the business. There’s really something for everyone here as Gemballa has everything from fully bespoke leather interiors all the way to the traditional floor mats that seem to be a favorite amongst tuners these days. Those interested in the program are free to choose which interior upgrade suits them and their respective 650S units.

Drivetrain

2016 McLaren 650S by Gemballa High Resolution Exterior
- image 672639
The result of that hand-wringing is an extra 20 horsepower and 37 pound-feet of torque

Somewhat surprisingly, Gemballa’s work on the M838T 3.8-liter turbocharged V-8 engine can be best described as subdued. It’s at least not as bombastic and ambitious as some of the German tuner’s past works. Be that as it may, Gemballa’s only contribution to the modification of the 650S’s engine involves optimizing the ECU unit of the supercar. The result of that hand-wringing is an extra 20 horsepower and 37 pound-feet of torque, which brings the total output of the 650S to 670 horsepower and 537 pound-feet of torque. It’s unclear how this upgrade affects the 650S’s performance numbers, but given the relatively modest upgrades on the supercar’s V-8, I don’t expect those numbers to be drastically cut. The car’s 0-to-60-mph time could be sliced by a tenth of a second to 2.9 seconds, but anything more than that is unlikely. Likewise, the 650S’s top speed of 207 mph should also improve, albeit incrementally.

Pricing

The whole program costs €33,900, which computes to about $38,500 based on current exchange rates. If you want everything, McLaren 650S included, the price tag skyrockets up to €230,000, or about $261,300.

Competition

McLaren 650S Vayu GTR Coupe By FAB Design

2016 McLaren 650S Vayu GTR Coupe by FAB Design
- image 668792

It’s safe to say that Gemballa opted to be a little more conservative with its program for the McLaren 650S. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there will be those who feel that spending almost $40,000 for what amounts to incremental improvements isn’t the best way to spend that kind of money. Fortunately, one other tuner has just presented its own program for the 650S and for better or worse, it offers more significant modifications to the supercar. This program was built by FAB Design, which it presented at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.

The aero kit here is far more extensive than the one Gemballa is offering. It has larger front and rear fenders, bigger side skirts, a roof scoop, and a custom rear wing. All these components are made from carbon fiber, ensuring improved aerodynamics for the McLaren. Unfortunately, FAB Design’s engine program for the 650S isn’t that much better than what Gemballa did. All FAB did was install a custom exhaust system that adds an extra 32 horsepower to the 650S, bringing the total output up 682 horsepower. Torque figures were not released, but FAB did say that with the new exhaust, the 650S would be able to cut its 0-to-62-mph time to under three seconds to go with a top speed of about 208 mph.

Read our full review here.

Ferrari 488 GTB 4XX Siracusa by Mansory

2016 Ferrari 488 GTB 4XX Siracusa By Mansory
- image 667902

Let’s reverse course here for a second and talk about a program for a car that’s considered as one of the McLaren 650S’s biggest rivals. I’m talking about the Ferrari 488 GTB and Mansory’s “4XX” Siracusa program that was also unveiled at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. On the surface, the 4XX Siracusa follows the same blueprint Mansory has created in building its tuning programs. It’s got an extensive body kit that dramatically alters the 488 GTB’s aesthetics and aerodynamic capabilities. The most significant of these changes can be found in the front to the extent that the 488 GTB looks more aggressive than it was in standard guise.

Like what Gemballa and FAB Design did with their separate kits for the McLaren 650S, Mansory’s power upgrades on the 488 GTB are pretty simple. In fact, the tuner simply optimized the Ferrari’s ECU unit and installed a new, specially designed sports exhaust system. The difference between this kit and those for the McLarens is that Mansory was still about to squeeze out 790 ponies and 561 pound-feet of twist out of the 488 GTB’s 3.9-liter turbocharged V-8 engine. The improved output even helps the Italian supercar sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds to go with an increased top speed of 211 mph.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

2016 McLaren 650S by Gemballa High Resolution Exterior
- image 672638

The name Gemballa is usually associated with some of the most impressive tuning programs in the business so it’s a little disappointing that it only got 20 horsepower out of the McLaren 650S. I’m not sold on it as much as I’d like to be, but fortunately I have faith in Gemballa that it’s got something better up its sleeve in the near future. We all know that the tuner prides itself on giving its clientele options to choose from so if this kit doesn’t prove to be the hit Gemballa thinks it is, expect it to go back to the drawing table and come up with something better.

  • Leave it
    • Not that impressive
    • Might want to look somewhere else
    • Pricey for what you get
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