What is it? The 570S is the first sports car, as opposed to supercar, from McLaren.
Our view: As affordable as a McLaren is ever going to get
Review type: Taster test
McLaren is one of the desirable automotive names that most drivers will only ever dream of getting anywhere near close to. But the £143,000 570S, launched as the first of the brand’s ‘Sports Series’ in 2015 along with its £127,000 sister the 540C, just about as affordable as a McLaren is ever going to get.
The two are the first McLaren sports cars, as opposed to supercars, and have taken the brand into new territory, opening up to a more mainstream audience that might otherwise consider buying a Porsche 911 Turbo or the glorious Audi R8.
Yet both are still very much proper McLarens. The powertrain is based around an evolution of McLaren’s core 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine – we are told that 30 per cent of the components are new compared to the previous engine.
The power unit is bolted into the same carbon-fibre MonoCell II chassis that is another McLaren hallmark, and because of its light weight, when mounted in the 570S the 570hp output of the engine turns into an eye-watering 434hp power-to-weight figure. That’s good enough for 0-62mph times of under four seconds and yes, a top speed of more than 200mph.
Crucially, it looks every inch a McLaren – visually the styling is clearly closely related to the more expensive Super Series cars, and one still enters and exits through those signature lift-up dihedral doors.
There is nothing about this car that suggests it is any less of a McLaren than its more upmarket and significantly more expensive – knocking on £200,000 – 650S sister. And as such, it is the brand’s most important car yet, the one that will bring the most new owners into McLaren.
What do we think of it? Even day-to-day road testers such as your correspondent don’t get to try out the likes of this car very often, and so there is a sense of anticipation. Thankfully the rewards start coming the moment one sets eyes on the car and particularly raises those doors to slip inside.
Even this big fan of the Audi R8 can’t deny feeling that he has stepped up a class as the V8 comes to life and he eases out on to the road, briefly manually raising the ride height to ensure that carbon front splitter does not meet the speed humps at the venue entrance.
The first surprise is how well behaved the car is – in traffic, it will happily purr along with no hint of the potency it offers, the only outside evidence that one is in something special being the plentiful looks from those outside.
Gain some open road, however, free up the right-hand pedal, and the car comes instantly to life, the sheer pace of its acceleration electrifying. The only downside, perhaps is the noise – it doesn’t have the theatrical performance of an Audi R8, but then that sits well with the usable sports car image of the 570S.
Similarly impressive is the handling – a fast set of sweepers are dispatched with no problem at all, the 570S carving a path through them with all the delicate poise of a track-bred car.
Which of course it basically is – the 570S boasts a level of performance that similarly cannot be exploited properly on public roads – a track day subscription will be an essential for any owner, so they can really make the most of all the effort that has gone into creating this proper McLaren.
Verdict: Dubbed an ‘affordable everyday’ McLaren, the 570S just about fulfils the first qualification for a certain level of buyer, being only around £10,000 more to buy than a top-level Audi R8 or most expensive Porsche 911 – the latter especially considered somewhat more everyday than the McLaren. And in terms of usability the 570S also deserves the everyday tag – so long as one has deep pockets for fuel it really is behaved enough to commute to work in.
In summary, this car offers everything one expects from a McLaren, without any of the compromises, particularly in terms of comfort, of more outright performance focused sisters. As such, it could with very good reason be dubbed the most favourite McLaren.
McLaren 570S – key specification
Tested model: McLaren 570S Coupe
On sale: May 2015
Engine: 3799cc V8 twin-turbo petrol, 570hp, 600Nm
0-62mph and max speed: 3.2 sec, 204mph
Economy and CO2 emissions: 26.6mpg, 249g/km
Key Rivals: Audi R8, Porsche 911
Test date: October 2016
The Car Expert Taster Tests are concise summaries of models on the market, that we have driven for under 50 miles. They are often preludes to full road tests of the vehicle at a later date.