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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.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?