McLaren's new $280,000 supercar

The future of McLaren

The British are giving the Italians and Germans a run for their money in the supercar race.

McLaren Automotive this week is rolling out its latest entry in the increasingly crowded supercar field: the 650S. It's the starter McLaren, priced at around $280,000—about a quarter of the cost of its flagship P1 model. But its price tag still runs higher than the Ferrari 458 Italia or Lamborghini Huracan.

McLaren aims to sell more than 500 of the new vehicles in North America this year. Another goal is to produce about 1,500 cars globally in 2014, with the majority of those being the two 650S models—the open-top Spider and the coupe.

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Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren Automotive, said the company's cars and brand are all about state-of-the-art racing technology and performance—not flash or frivolous design.

"We're a motor sport brand, that's our heritage," Flewitt said. "So for us it's about leading technologies."

Maclaren 650S Spider
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The 650S, for example, borrows from the company's race program to produce a lighter, faster and more fuel-efficient street car. It has a roaring 640-horsepower, twin-turbo V8 engine that can power the car to more than 200 mph. But it's also one of the few supercars in the U.S. that's not subject to the gas-guzzler tax.

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The car can do zero to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and can brake from 60 to zero in 93.5 feet. But the interior is also fitted with all the comforts needed for a daily driver.

Sure, the 650S costs more than most houses. But compared with the company's P1, which sells for more than $1.1 million and is already sold out, the 650S looks downright affordable.

—By CNBC's Robert Frank