Formula One, the winning, the blood, sweat, tears and massive investment. McLaren Automotive is a distillation of F1 blood sweat and gears. The limited-edition 1992 McLaren F1 was a celebratory distillation of this motorsport expertise, the result was an uncompromising masterpiece. The unanswered question was, just how do you follow on from a supercar car that can still mix it with the best over 24 years later?
The 2011 MP4-12C was the spark that re-lit the fuse which has now exploded into a variety of supercars. There are no shortages of buyers, every supercar McLaren Automotive manufactures it sells. This demand has made the company profitable very quickly.
So now McLaren Automotive offers three tiers of ownership, at the very top end of the scale is the million dollar plus Ultimate Series better known as the McLaren P1, behind that is the Super Series which is kind of like an augmented spin-off of the 12C.
And there is another, the so called entry level Sports Series which has three model variants to choose from, the 540C starts at £126k and is the cheapest model in the range. At around £144k is the 570GT which is geared for comfort and everyday use and the 570S Coupe which is geared for thrills.
All McLaren models share the same 3.8-litre V8 Twin Turbo, however for the Sports Series it’s been reworked. Or as McLaren point out the Sports Series features an engine with 30 percent bespoke components.
As the naming convention suggests the 540C, 570GT and 570S Coupe are so named to reflect their respective metric horsepower.
The Sports Series are built around an advanced carbon-fibre Monocell II tub which underpins all McLaren road cars. The carbon fibre tub weighs around 75kg and significantly contributes to the overall stiffness of the chassis.
However, unlike the Super Series and Ultimate Series the Sports Series features exterior body panels that are fabricated from expensive aluminium instead of ultra-expensive carbon-fibre.
That doesn’t mean the 570S Coupe is anything less than McLaren’s maxim of being lighter, stronger, faster, better it is all of those and more. It weighs in at 1313kg which perhaps is the ideal weight for a modern day supercar.
The exterior styling of the 570S has the influence of the McLaren F1 running through it’s design DNA and looks much better in person than the photos can convey. It’s passive aggressive or maybe like a boxer hunched up ready to unleash a south-paw uppercut. The Mantis Green paintwork adds a degree of crazy exotic, damn it I’m sold already.
Getting into the interior requires you to step over a not so narrow side-sill but it’s not overly obtrusive, you get used to it because you just want to get seated. It’s that build-up of excitement and anticipation that draws you in. Every single time.
And when you are finally seated you are held in place by comfortable bucket seats faced in Alcantara. Indeed the whole interior is faced in optional Grey Alcantara or you can have the interior faced in leather but I’m not here to reel off the options list for you.
McLaren’s bespoke MSO service will allow you to customise the look of your McLaren. While to some the interior design may look simple in my opinion there is beauty in simplicity, it’s the old Scandinavian design mantra of less really is more.
You only get what you need in terms of instrumentation, the dials and knobs are all neatly presented, offer a tactile feel indeed the whole interior is solidly put together and beautifully appointed.
With only two hours allocated to drive it was difficult to explore the interior in full but all the creature comforts are there, air-con, heater, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, TFT instrument binnacle, Bluetooth, DAB radio, Sat-Nav and a premium sound system.
To be honest with this breed of supercar you don’t really need the premium sound system and if it were possible to omit it altogether then I would do so because the premium soundtrack really comes from the V8 Twin-Turbo. That said, from within the cabin, the V8 twin-turbo doesn’t emit an aggressive V8 engine note like say the Jaguar F-Type it’s a more ‘serious’ tone nonetheless.
The driving position is excellent, the seats and steering column are electrically adjustable, although I found the seat adjustment switches difficult to fathom at first, but once you do you can fine tune your driving position to suit.
The stats say 562bhp, 600Nm of torque, 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds, top speed 204mph and a class leading power-to-weight ratio of 428bhp/tonne. But the stats don’t tell the whole story, the stats can never relay the rawness you feel when you press the starter button, fire up the engine and feel the energy surging through and waiting for it to be unleashed.
The rear mounted, in-house designed and built V8 twin-turbo engine is balanced in the middle of the car, outputs all of that power to the rear wheels and delivers speed with savage consistency. Others have mentioned slight turbo lag, but from my experience I say it’s barely noticeable.
The engine delivers it’s power with a brazen effortlessness, brutal and extreme when required and perfectly happy to settle down into ‘gentleman mode’ when driving around an urban environment.
Coupled with a sharp minded 7-speed dual clutch auto gearbox and you have a potent combination of speed and more speed, so much so that initially it is overwhelming and you end up thinking to yourself “this is an entry level car right?”
You can operate the gearbox in full manual mode courtesy of steering mounted gearshift paddles that arc neatly behind the steering wheel. McLaren seemed to have paid attention to the design of the paddle shifts because they are ergonomically and functionally perfect when most often they are just added as flashy after thoughts.
The paddle-shifts are easy to reach with your fingertips, are set at the correct distance behind the steering wheel and the weight of the shift action mechanism is very tactile. Just the right amount of pressure is required to change gear, you always know which side is where. When cornering, changing direction and shifting at the same time, you don’t need to think twice.
These are the small details that make the 570S refined in terms of it’s usability from a drivers point of view that perhaps only McLaren would pay attention to. Or maybe I am seeing too much into it.
Without going into geek detail the 570S Coupe uses traditional double wishbone suspension, fairly advanced adaptive dampers and an anti-roll bar setup. The whole chassis feels stiff all round and initially it feels more like a track car. Yet the 570S rides comfortably enough on most road surfaces.
Usually a stiffly setup car means you have less grip, not so the case here. The Pirelli P-Zeros Corsa tyres, 18-inch at the front and 19-inch at the rear, provide plenty of grip . Driving in the cool conditions of an October day through the Northamptonshire countryside I felt enough reassurance with grip levels to approach twisty B-routes with eagerness and confidence.
Highspeed stability is also confidence boosting thanks to the combination of a rear diffuser, fixed rear wing and flying buttress supports behind the B-Pillars which are designed to channel the flow of air across the rear end in an effort to reduce drag and increase downforce.
This aerodynamic stability at cruising speed has an effect on the senses, you soon become accustomed to driving at 90mph as being entirely stress-free normal, 70mph feels like 50mph and 30mph feels like time is starting to go backwards. It’s the sort of car which awakens the senses, makes you more alert.
The 570S comes loaded with a type of driver customisation setting. The Active Dynamics panel houses two knobs, just above the gearbox selection buttons. The one on the left is designed to intensify the handling with Normal, Sport and Track modes.
The knob on the right has the same functionality but alters the mode of the powertrain, re-configuring the engine and gearbox mapping. These respective settings quicken the engine’s responsiveness, the ‘heartbeat’, and also the gear shifts going from intense to an infusion of intensive-fury.
So it has the power and driver modes, but at the end of the day it’s all got to work as one, does it? The 570S has a slight rear-end looseness to it that gives you a bit of playability through the corners so you can alter your corner entry and/or approach by a fraction if need be in order to get a better line without losing traction or rear end stability and that enables you to really nail the apex.
And to understand what’s going on during these micro phases you a have brilliant steering system to back up all this rapid exchange of information, the steering is the key here. Thankfully it’s an old-fashioned hydraulic system and not the more fuel and C02 efficient generation of electronic steering systems that have been the ruination of the once mighty Porsche 911.
The 570S’ steering offers up a revelatory amount of feedback, it’s perfectly weighted during the turn-in phase into and out of corners, you know what is going on with the front and rear wheels instantaneously and at the precise moment required.
The front end turn in responds to your inputs with millimetre accuracy as if it’s digitally transmitting signals to your brainwaves. This isn’t virtual reality it’s almost primordial reality emanating from a highly technical supercar and in the end you are left in no doubt that you have none other than a pure bred driver’s car.
So the 570S is not merely about the savage speed or the brutal precision of the suspension setup. It’s an ethereal balance of all of these key engineering components doing the job they are designed to do and doing so as one mechanical entity. Paradoxically it’s an easy and comfortable car to drive if you just want coast around in it all day and that’s the really clever part.
The final trick up the 570s’ sleeve is, not the stop/start (thankfully you can switch this bureaucratic measure off) it’s the functionality to raise the ride height at low speed so you can avoid contact with high kerbs or speed bumps.
There is one small caveat, the carbon ceramic disc brakes. While offering suitable stopping power I never really got used to the feel. In truth the brakes felt similar to how stainless steel disc-brakes feel when they have ‘faded’ under moderate use.
I would have liked more purchase through the brake pedal especially when driving through slow traffic. I don’t know… maybe it’s more to do with my driving preferences, or it may well be that public roads will only ever unravel about 20 percent of the 570S’ performance.
Or it may well be the case that carbon ceramic brakes operate best at a certain temperature. I don’t know for sure but what I do know is that the brakes on my humble Skoda Superb have better feel.
Yes, I really did just compare a McLaren 570S to a Skoda Superb. You read it here first. But that said I had two hours, and no more, in the 570S to form an opinion.
And in my opinion the McLaren 570S may be entry level fodder into the McLaren model range but don’t ever expect it to be anything less than intense and nothing short of exhilarating.