Wristwatches. That’s what I was thinking about while checking out the new McLaren 570S. And not for the usual traits – fine craftsmanship, mechanical precision, symbols of status – shared by timepieces and automobiles alike. Instead I was reminded of a choice I made when I was 14.

After going through a few lower-end watches, my teenage self determined it was time to invest in a quality timepiece. My finite resources left me facing a dilemma: Would I go for the upper end from a cheaper brand, or the bottom end from a higher-quality one? I settled on a Swiss-made quartz watch – the entry level from the best manufacturer I could afford – and I wore it proudly for many years, content that I had made the smart choice. Over two decades later, that watch spends more time in a drawer than on my wrist. Yet that’s what was ticking in my head as I slipped into the cockpit of Woking’s latest.

McLaren, you see, is about as exotic as automakers come. What the new Sports Series (of which the 570S coupe is part) represents is the prospect of getting in at the bottom end of a high-end lineup instead of the top end of a (relatively) more mainstream one. McLaren’s higher-end models – alongside which the Sports Series is being built at the McLaren Production Center – target rivals from Ferrari and Lamborghini. But the 562-horsepower output and $184,900 base price pit the new 570S one step downmarket against the Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo – the very top of the line from less exotic marques. And that, arguably as much as anything else, is the novelty that the Little Mac brings to market.

Continue reading for the full story.

McLaren 570S in detail

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It’s not just the image of a supercar brand, though, that sets the 570S apart from its rivals. It also boasts features that ordinarily come at a higher price point and revolve, in McLaren’s case, principally around three key technologies: a carbon monocoque chassis, the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 developed with Ricardo, and the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission sourced from Graziano. Those three building blocks serve as the basis for everything McLaren produces, including the P1, 650S, and the new 570S. Features like standard carbon-ceramic brakes and dihedral doors add to the supercar appeal, but what you’re getting are the same essential components as a million-dollar hypercar in a vehicle that costs roughly one sixth the price.

Making a six-figure purchase seem like a bargain is no mean feat on McLaren’s part.

Of course that price differential means that the 570S lacks certain features offered by its higher-end stablemates. It doesn’t have the hybrid assist that gives the P1 its 903-horsepower output, the magnetorheological strut that optimizes the lateral compliance of the 650’s ride, or the active rear wing that lends visual drama and aerodynamic downforce to both. The question is how much those few missing features will really matter once you lower yourself into the cockpit. They might to the select few fortunate enough to ignore price and value as factors. Not being one of those individuals, however, this writer was struck more by how much you do get for the money than what you don’t. And making a six-figure purchase seem like a bargain is no mean feat on McLaren’s part.

Though the company aims for a new customer base with the launch of the Sports Series, roughly half of the orders it has taken to date have been placed by existing clients who already own a McLaren, and are adding this one to the Super Series (650S, 675LT) or Ultimate Series (P1, P1 GTR) model in their garage... not replacing one with the other. And even after having driven both the 650S and the 570S, I’d find it hard to believe that anyone would find this new model lacking.

Thumb the ignition and the 570S erupts with an intoxicating roar before settling into a nice burble

Thumb the ignition and the 570S erupts with an intoxicating roar before settling into a nice burble. In fact we were asked not to start it up in the underground garage until we were ready to go, lest we needlessly disturb the other guests in the hotel above. Customers at this level have come to expect that kind of aural drama, but it’s certainly not a given here. For one thing, turbochargers typically muffle an exhaust note. For another, McLaren doesn’t have the same history of making engines as sonorous as its rivals. In fact, McLaren doesn’t have much history of making engines at all, sourcing them for both its road and race cars from outside suppliers. But that’s beside the point. More relevant is the development history of that V8 engine: McLaren personnel admit that, in developing the original 12C, sound was an afterthought. Based on customer feedback, they worked on improving it for the 650S and P1, but have arguably perfected it in the 570S. No excuses here: McLaren’s latest sounds both as dramatic as it looks and as superb as it drives.

Make no mistake about it, the 570S performs magnificently. Just look at those numbers: 0-60 in 3.1 seconds. 10.9 seconds to cover the quarter-mile. And a top speed in excess of 200 miles per hour. Those are veritable supercar figures, but they’ll only tell you part of the story. The rest you have to experience. And while we could never get enough of a car like this, we fortunately had ample opportunity to drive it on both road and track. The McLaren performed flawlessly throughout, seldom if ever betraying that this was anything short of an unbridled supercar.

Drivetrain Specifications

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Engine configuration M838TE engine, 3.8-litre twin turbo V8, 3,799cc
Drivetrain layout Longitudinal mid-engined, RWD
Power 562 HP @ 7,500 RPM
Torque 443 LB-FT @ 5,000-6,500 RPM
Transmission 7 Speed SSG
0-100 km/h (0-62mph) 3.2 seconds
0-60 MPH 3.1 seconds
0-200 km/h (0-124mph) 9.5 seconds
0-400 m / ¼ mile 10.9 seconds
Maximum Speed} 328 km/h (204 mph)
100-0 km/h (62-0 mph) 33m (108ft)
200-0 km/h (124-0 mph) 126m (413ft)
300-0 km/h (186-0 mph) 260m (853ft)

Driving Impressions

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Our destination at the end of an initial run down the highway was the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in southern Portugal. The circuit is one of the most challenging and engaging this writer has driven: three miles of dips, climbs, blind corners, sweeping curves, and hairpin turns, more than capable of uncovering flaws in a performance automobile. But the McLaren 570S displayed no such flaws – neither in my hands nor in those of the professional racing drivers McLaren had on hand to show what its machinery can do. The “entry-level supercar” aptly accepted inputs, sliced through tarmac with poise and precision, and demonstrated that, while its limits are approachable, they’re well beyond the capabilities of most drivers.

The “entry-level supercar” aptly accepted inputs, sliced through tarmac with poise and precision

Driving in such a controlled environment will tell you a lot about a car, of course, but it won’t tell you how it performs in the real world. So off we went on a journey through twisting mountain roads. But as hard as we dared push it, the 570S never felt out of its depth. Those 562 horses ensured we gathered pace with great haste, the instant response of the transmission never left us wanting for the right ratio, the steering inspired confidence, the suspension kept things firmly under control, and the carbon-ceramic brakes kept everything in check. The interior provided excellent outward visibility, and, while we inevitably favored the exhaust note, the optional Bowers & Wilkins system would leave no audiophile disappointed.

Even in base form, the 570S includes all performance-related equipment

Complaints? We have none to speak of. Only a few qualifications that really come down, at most, to a matter of taste. For one, McLaren selected a wheel/tire package that measures the same diameter as those on the 650S and P1, but significantly narrower. The reduced grip may be enough to handle the reduced power, and may even be more fun with a lower limit of adhesion. But some may be left wanting for a larger contact patch that the factory doesn’t offer. For another, while this writer is of the opinion that McLaren really nailed the design, others may find it over-the-top – particularly in this shade of Mantis Green. But those individuals would likely be more attracted, at any rate, towards the Aston Martin end of the high-end British sports car spectrum than McLaren’s. The pre-production prototype we drove (with Alcantara trim instead of leather and fixed racing buckets instead of adjustable seats) exhibited some wind noise, but we were assured the problems were rectified before the start of production, and didn’t exhibit themselves in the second example we drove later. Finally, the options list can inflate the $185k base price to approach the $265k base of a 650S – even before getting into the extensive aesthetic customization offered by McLaren Special Operations – potentially blowing the relative value proposition out of the proverbial water. But even in base form, the 570S includes all performance-related equipment. So strictly speaking, no options boxes need be ticked on the order form. None of those elements make us like the 570S any less, however, or diminished the pleasure of driving it. Some, in fact, made us enjoy it even more.

McLaren 570S - Prices

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MSRP $184,900
Elite paint – Mantis Green $1,640
Carbon fibre exterior pack 2 $9,380
Sports exhaust $3,860
5-Spoke lightweight, stealth wheels $3,720
Special colour brake callipers (Yellow) $1,060
By McLaren designer interior - Sport $2,990
Carbon fibre racing seats $5,960
Bowers & Wilkins 12 speaker audio system $2,190


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The ultimate question of how it compares to its rivals will, once again, come down to a matter of personal preference more than anything. Audi and Porsche (among others) offer compelling alternatives with comparable levels of performance for similar money. But if it’s an exotic supercar you’re after, and you have just enough to gain admission, your new point of entry is right here in front of you. And though McLaren itself may term this as a “mere” high-end sports car, it offers just about everything you’d expect of a bona fide supercar... and then some. So while the 570S may be designed to lure customers away from the top end of more mainstream brands, the greater threat it poses may just be issued toward more expensive machinery from exotic automakers like Ferrari, Lamborghini... and McLaren itself.

What do you think?
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