You are here
Why I'm excited by the McLaren 570S
The 570S might just end up being the best car McLaren makes. Big statement that, but I’m not sure when 562bhp from a mid-mounted twin-turbo V8 and 430bhp-per-tonne became tame.
We live in the real world: if you win at life simply by having the most horsepower, driving would get simple, brutal and unsatisfying very quickly.
And that’s where this car looks like it could be a winner. Would you rather say you owned a Porsche Turbo or a McLaren 570S? It’s not a particularly difficult choice for me, and it’s one that the new car answers quite neatly.
I ran a 12C Spider for several months last year, and to be honest, away from our test track I think I used full throttle approximately three times, and anything past third gear at full boost had me paralysed with licence-losing paranoia. So a car with a touch less power for a lot less cash opens up options for McLaren’s customer base.
And just look at the spec compared to the big-brother 650S: the same carbon tub, the same engine, same ‘box, the same theatrical doors. This isn’t a less interesting car, it’s a 650S-lite. It might be a little more skewed to comfort and usability, but the public road is where I spend most of my time, and that’s where that stuff matters.
If you really need 0-124mph in less than nine-and-a-half seconds and more than 200mph, you live in a vastly different place to me, and possibly own your own police force.
Even the cries of ‘it looks boring’ - uttered by, among others, my colleague Sam Philip - are simply not taking into account that this is the base of the range, the entry-level car. Of course it’s less show-stopping than a P1, but it costs an order of magnitude less. Paint it in a sober colour and this could be your daily-driver.
Remember how the 12C was criticised for looking a bit dull? It’s aged well. Fashionable has one big problem - it inevitably goes out of fashion.
That’s the real point here. The P1, and to some extent the 650S, have so much potential, they’re a little beleaguered by solely on-road driving. The stuff they do well - decent ride, lovely steering, excellent visibility - is lost in the impossibility of exploring their stratospheric performance for any meaningful amount of time.
So maybe a McLaren that hasn’t got a full-fat race mode that’s unusable on the road won’t feel like you’re not doing the damn thing justice all the time.
If McLaren have fixed the bugbears of the 12C - the electronic glitches and quality issues, which they appear to have done with the 650S - then the 570S looks set to be the pick of the range in the same way that the R8 V8 was actually a better, more satisfying car than the R8 V10.
In the same vein I’d rather have a 911 Carrera S than a 911 Turbo. So beware dismissing the Sports Series before you’ve had a go: sometimes the biggest numbers don’t make for the best driving experience.
So who’s right? Me, or Sam?