McLaren launched the new 570S Coupe in the Algarve last week at the Conrad Hotel and the race track at Portimao. It was quite a sight to see so many McLaren 570s’ all lined up outside the Conrad hotel, flanked by flames floating in the elongated water pools, and outside the race track in every available colour. Not quite as good as driving them, but we’ll get to that.
Lets start by defining what the 570S is. A supercar masquerading as a sports car. Everything about it is supercar except the price tag. The 570S Coupé will retail from £143,250 and is part of the new Sports Series that will soon include the 540C Coupé which launches in the second quarter of 2016 retailing from around £126,000.
So McLaren will have the Ultimate Series comprising the uber powered P1™ and the P1™ GTR, the latter giving out 960 bhp, a track car available only to owners of a P1 Coupé already, talk about exclusive. Next is the Super Series comprising the McLaren 675LT, the McLaren 650S Coupé and the 650S Spider (which I find myself dreaming about far too often). So the 570S is really aimed at a wider audience and a clear statement of intent to sell a larger quantity of cars, whilst still maintaining exclusivity, as the cars are all produced to a well defined limited series. McLaren are the only car company in the world that can boast producing a car model that may not depreciate and in the case of the P1 is regarded as an investment. Only 376 P1 models were made and they sold out well ahead of their predicted target dates. The P1 is currently trading at £400,000 more than the original purchase price. Are they underpriced or is it simply that McLaren have produced something so exceptional, with clever marketing of a limited series, upping demand to give the P1 immortal classic car status right out of the showroom.
The 570S does 0-62 mph in 3.2 seconds, 0-124 mph in 9.5 seconds, with 570 PS which is where the Mclaren naming system comes from. 562 bhp is impressive but it's the torque that raised my eyebrows as it produces 443 lbs ft at 5-6500 rpm so you really get an idea of the raw power available. McLaren have worked very hard to push the boundaries of the 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine by reducing the weight of the vehicle in every area, making this car 30% different from its precursors, with new materials and lightweight composites employed wherever possible, but still overpowered in terms of strength and resilience. It also does a combined 26.6 mpg which is pretty impressive in a sports/supercar.
The 570S has many small differences from the other series, essentially to make it more of a road car and more comfortable to drive every day whilst still retaining the speed capabilities of the other models. I have to say that it has achieved this and more. The stunning dihedral doors swing up just a little higher and the bottom sill is just a little lower to make getting in and out a tad more comfortable. There is a cup holder and even a vanity mirror, a first in any McLaren, and indispensable before taking any selfies in the car. Included are a Bowers and Wilkins sound system that is definitely aimed at the luxury market and gives great sound, you can pick from a four, eight or twelve speaker system. Though quite why you would want to drown out the sound of that engine is beyond me. The interior is more comfortable with space for luggage in the front bonnet, a vertical control panel for more screen space and a rear shelf for the extras you need while touring. As to the exterior colour I liked the Mantis Green, but would opt for the McLaren Orange (darker with more red than the Ventura Orange) or the Ice Silver (silver with a touch of blue) though the Volcano Orange was gorgeous too.
The carbon fibre Monocell II chassis makes this an incredibly light car and has shown itself in testing to be nigh on indestructible, it’s pretty much the same cell that is used in the Formula One cars and the design has proved so amazing it has changed very little since the one used in the McLaren 12C. The stunning body has been air shaped by super forming aluminium sheets, wherein hot aluminium is blown into shape over a mould. This mixture of carbon fibre and aluminium body give this car fabulous curves and a shape to worship. The car follows the original sketch by chief designer Robert Melville very faithfully as both form and function are equally well balanced in this marvellous machine. There are new LED lights front and rear and their frowning eyes shape is a perfect reminder of the McLaren logo. The back end of the 570S is different too as it is curtailed and beefier, with more lines and detailing. Seats wise I much prefer the standard to the bucket seats, but I am getting on in years and need the comfort, so by all means get the bucket seats if you intend speeding round every corner, and who could blame you in this monster!
The seven speed gearbox is incredibly smooth with gearshift paddles that respond faultlessly and are perfect to the touch. The overriding feeling you get from this car is that every detail has been meticulously thought about from first principles. The brake is a little slow at first, but that is actually a good thing in a road car, especially if you want to enjoy driving it around town and on country lanes, but with just a little more pressure the McLaren carbon ceramic brake steer system come properly into play and you can really pile into those corners whilst maintaining excellent control. I had the Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres which give you just a tad more acceleration and better braking times and should be regarded as a must on this car.
The steering is to my mind perfectly balanced and responsive, you feel the road and have excellent control especially at higher speeds and powering out of a corner. Like all mid engined cars you can swing the attractive rear out as you go round a sharp bend, if you really want to, but the feedback is pretty nigh perfect. I have to confess I loved the steering, the 570S holds the road like a true track car and you merely have to point the front at the right line in a corner and it will follow it effortlessly. The trick is to steer gently and not to be fooled into pulling the wheel round too sharply, but even after a couple of hours in the car, it becomes second nature. This is a track car adapted to the road and you get incredible surface holding abilities despite its being targeted more at road users than the Super or the Ultimate Series. The 570S may not have the same aerodynamic downforce as the more expensive McLarens but by golly it is still glued to the road.
The new McLaren 570S also uses anti roll bars instead of the hydraulic roll control system used in the P1 and the 650S which saved a few pennies that could be spent elsewhere as well as the weight loss. It makes use of a lot of Formula One technology for the Brake system, the Electronic Stability Control system and the Performance Traction Control. Different choices can be selected for the stability, with full, dynamic or ESC off in sport and track modes. Likewise for the traction control, selecting dynamic mode when pushing the car to its limits on the track. Mclaren have really aimed for engagement and driving pleasure in this Sports model and driving it around the motorways and country roads of Portugal certainly convinced me they had succeeded. This car is all about having fun and enjoyment, driving it on a regular basis and taking pleasure in its performance. As Rowan Atkinson is quoted as saying, he really enjoyed driving his McLaren F1 to the shops and on the school run most, even though it excelled on the track, because it was such sheer pleasure to drive. The 570S is great fun and it will undoubtedly sell incredibly well as it really gives close to P1 ability and looks at a fraction of the price, without tarnishing the P1 which still out performs all its rivals.
McLaren have spent a lot of time tuning the engine to get just the right sound and it’s evocative of that Formula One pitched screech as you rev up the counter, not as throaty or booming as the Aston Martin, but a beautiful historic race track howl that is unique to McLaren and had many a Portuguese child looking up in sudden delight as we drove by, exclaiming even before they had fully seen the car “Look Papa, a McLaren”.
Why are McLaren producing such a successful line of cars despite the enormous competition from such heavy weights as Bentley, Audi, Aston Martin and Porsche? Many of these established car manufacturers have large scale operations committed to certain manufacturing paths, developments and huge commercial targets. Not McLaren, they are effectively a very recent start up, albeit with an already present brand history, continuing the Bruce McLaren tradition. This is the McLaren advantage, they are a relatively small team, minuscule by car manufacturing standards, of extremely talented car fanatics who take advantage of the latest developments in materials, technology, engineering and design to produce the greatest possible car they can make. It really is a team of experts looking to build something they can be proud of. This is not exceptional in itself, but it’s the support, investment and the commercial success that make this such a exciting, innovating, luxury, tech brand. Not to mention the Formula One association and its benefits.
Nothing is perfect, the 570S does slightly remind me of a Transformer from afar, but then the Transformers were a dream ideal of the tech supercar as seen in the eyes of a child. So maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Some of the appeal of this car is not just down to the incredible track and road performance, but the looks which call out to the boy who played with toy Formula One race cars and has now grown up to see these toys made reality on the road. If you are going for a sports car it should really look like one and the chief designer Robert Melville grew up lusting after the Lamborghini Countach and there is some of that space ship design in the McLaren.
I drove the car on the motorways of the Algarve and on the track at Portimao and my impression was that this is a ground breaking car, despite the obvious competitive talents of the Porche 911 and the Audi R8, this car is a real pleasure to drive and an incredible looker too, it stands out as being part of a brand that is truly unique, putting quality, technology, innovation and craftsmanship first, before sales targets. The legacy of Bruce McLaren, his famous eye for detail and drive to excel are being demonstrably preserved in this British global brand.
One lovely legend about Bruce McLaren centres on the development of the famous airflow “nostrils” of the McLaren. Apparently during a race Bruce was irritated by the fuel cap which had not been fitted properly, flapping around as the car went round the track. The thinking at the time was that the airflow would push the cap down at speeds, but whilst pondering this annoyance, Bruce had a moment of inspiration and realised that there must be higher pressure under the cap for it to be lifting off. So, the story has it, he leapt from the car and borrowed some tools to cut out some of the body work around the fuel intake area, thereby giving rise to the famous “nostrils” that improve airflow and give the car more speed and stability.
The McLaren 570S gets a full five stars from International eXcellence Magazine.
So what next for McLaren? In fact they have very precise plans with the 540C coming out next, with another surprise in 2016, think 650S Can Am (the epitome of style). In 2017 they plan to launch a Gran Touring and an open top Spider version of the 570S.
Click here to see more images of the McLaren 570S
Watch the McLaren 570S go round the track at Portimao Portugal
In case you were wondering, McLaren will not be making an SUV!
The 570S is available to buy now for March 2016 delivery!
Click here for more of the 570S and the other McLaren models