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Why the McLaren 570S leaves me cold

Published: 31 Mar 2015

I haven't driven the 570S. No one outside McLaren has. I don't doubt it will be, like the 650S with which it shares so much, heinously rapid and freakishly composed.

In fact, I haven't even seen the 570S in the metal, only the same pictures you've doubtless pored over too. So, official position dutifully stated, here it is:

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I can't get excited about the 570S.

Believe me, it pains me to say that I'm left cold by a V8-powered, mid-engined, carbon fibre, 560-something-horsepower, two-seat British supercar. But I am, and I've been trying to figure out why.

McLaren 570S: all the info, specs and prices

It's not that I'm averse to McLaren doing a car slower than the 650S. The concept of a ‘baby McLaren' is entirely appealing: the 650S, impressive technical achievement though it is, is so ballistic and over-capable that an ‘entry level' Macca with limits at least a little more exploitable within real-world driving sounds rather dandy to me, ta. I've always preferred the Cayman and Boxster to the 911 range.

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Maybe it's the visuals. If you'd shown me photos of this 570S (giveaway licence plate artfully smudged out, naturally), and told me it was the facelifted 650S, I'd have believed you. Seemingly hamstrung by sharing so much architecture with the 650S, I don't see much in the 570S that moves the McLaren game on, that heralds this as a new car.

Tom Ford: why I'm excited by the McLaren 570S

And yes, you could counter that Porsche's range is hardly diverse in terms of styling. But the Cayman and Boxster are mechanically quite distinct from the 911 - mid-engined not rear, two-seaters not 2+2s, shorter and narrower too - while the 570S is effectively a watered-down 650S.

It uses, in effect, the same carbon tub, the same basic engine (though McLaren calls it a ‘unique development', saying 30 per cent of its components are bespoke), the same gearbox, the same damn doors. It's no smaller than the 650S: in fact, the 570S is a fraction larger than its ‘big brother' in each direction.

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McLaren 570S versus Porsche 911 Turbo S: stat off!

The name doesn't help. Yes, McLaren may insist that this car is part of its new ‘Sports Series' range, while the 650S is part of the ‘Super Series', but no one in the real world is going to refer to it as such, any more than they religiously capitalise SEAT, despite the Spanish firm's protestations.

570S says ‘650S minus 80S' to me. If they'd called it the McLaren Big Ron or the McLaren 911-Turbo-Basher or the McLaren Literally Anything Else But The Same Combination Of Numbers And Letters, that would have helped its differentiation.

Such genetic similarity probably won't concern too many potential 570S buyers, who'll be getting, in effect, a car with 90-something per cent of the 650S's real-world ability (and indeed looks) for 25 per cent less cash. I'm sure they won't be ashamed to admit that their new supercar shares much of its engine and chassis architecture with the million-quid P1, too.

I truly hope I'm surprised by the 570S: that in the flesh it doesn't look like a 650S-lite, and that on the road it has its own personality. I hope that the later Sports Series variants - we're told there could be as many as six - push McLaren's styling and scope in new and interesting directions. Fingers crossed for the 570 Ute?

McLaren is a good news story for the Brit car industry, and deserves to be celebrated. But the 570S had the chance to be something truly bold and different, and I'm not sure it is. On these first impressions it feels, to me, a car born of cynicism, not passion. Tom Ford, I know, disagrees. Am I alone? 

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