Getting ahold of supercars is not an easy thing. I have been waiting a year to get my grubby little hands on the new McLaren 570S. Monday was the day for the test, I was packed and ready to go when I got an email at 9:50am from Calvin (the owner of the 570S) saying that today would not work as the car had developed a fault and needed to go in for service. My world crashed. so I immediately drowned my sorrow by going back to bed. At 11.17 I received an email from Calvin asking me to give him a call. When I did he told me the car was fixed and I couldpick it up for my test drive. Exaggerated sorrow vanished, instantly replaced with boyish glee and 40 minutes later I was driving a very bright volcano orange McLaren 570S. It is a tough roller coaster ride being a supercar tester.

Grinning with boyish glee in a McLaren 570S

Grinning with boyish glee in a McLaren 570S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I admit from the outset that I am a huge admirer of McLaren Automotive. Since becoming an auto manufacturer in 2011 it is truly remarkable how far McLaren has come in the span of five years. Last year I got to the opportunity to sample McLaren’s first product the 12C. I still vividly recall accelerating hard onto highway 99 and being pushed firmly into my seat as the 12C rocketed onto the highway at a socially unacceptable velocity. It was a heady, dare I say, intoxicating feeling that has left me craving more seat time in a McLaren ever since.

First McLaren 12C I got to drive.

First McLaren 12C I got to drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The McLaren range now spans three series; the Ultimate series boasting the P1 hypercar; the Super series consisting of the 650S (successor to the 12C) and the 675LT; and lastly the Sports series occupied by the 540, 570S, and the 570GT. The 570S is called a sports car by McLaren, yet it delivers the performance figures of a supercar. In bare numbers the 570S has a 3.8L twin-turbo V8 engine which produces 562 bhp, with its power delivered through a 7 speed dual clutch transmission. These bare numbers translate into performance figures of zero to 100km in 3.2 seconds with a top speed of 328km (or 204mph). Now these figures are impressive, but what really blows my mind is that the “entry level” McLaren boasts acceleration times that match the legendary F1 car from the 1990’s. McLaren’s first foray into the automotive world produced the iconic F1, a three seat layout with a mighty V12 and outstanding performance figures, which except for top speed the McLaren 570S matches. Yes, technology moves on in twenty odd years I hear you saying, none the less to bequeath the McLaren 570S; an entry level car with such performance demonstrates the rapid rate of supercar technology.

Iconic McLaren F1

Iconic McLaren F1

Iconic McLaren F1 taken when I visited the Petersen collection in LA.

Iconic McLaren F1 taken when I visited the Petersen collection in LA.

Super series McLaren 650S

Super series McLaren 650S

Ultimate series McLaren P1 in Volcano red.

Ultimate series McLaren P1 in Volcano red.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all the facts and figures a supercar only truly comes alive once you have your backside firmly planted on the expensive leather seats and your right foot is on the accelerator. Getting into a McLaren is supercar theatre when the dihedral doors open like bat wings. Splendid as the doors are they are a bit heavy to push up from the inside, (Hey, I’ve got to complain about something on this car…right). The 570S is supposed to be easierto get in and out thanks to a slimmer carbon-fiber passenger cell, sadlythis did not assist my eighty five year old mother. I received a firm no on this car from my mother, she said she will not be ordering a 570S. McLaren can rest easy as I am still a firm believer in their cars.

Diahedral doors.

Diahedral doors.

My mother not enjoying the exit requirements of a 570S

My mother not enjoying the exit requirements of a 570S

McLaren has continued to refine their cockpits with each new model. The 570S has a new floating central touchscreen which houses all multimedia, navigation and climate controls. My biggest delight is the panorama windscreen which bestows magnificent views of the road ahead. McLaren steering wheels are the perfect size for my hands and they are bare of any distractions, unlike Ferrari steering wheels which are festooned with dials. McLaren prefers a series of stalks behind the steering, two carbon fiber paddles nestle immediately behind. These little beauties have a party trick. In addition to the usual right paddle for upshifts and left paddle for downshifts McLaren enables the driver to use the right hand paddle to pull upwards for upshifts and downwards for downshifts. This was a feature on the 12C I particularly enjoyed using, because the action of pushing away to change gear seemed more natural to me.

Perfect size steering wheel. shift paddles behind wheel. stalks behind oaddles to control other functions.

Perfect size steering wheel. shift paddles behind wheel. stalks behind oaddles to control other functions.

The biggest change for the 570 over any of its brethren is the suspension. The high-tech, hydraulic cross-dampers units on the 12C, 650S, and P1 have been replaced with regular spring-damper units and anti-rollbars in an effort to bring down cost. This imbues the 570S with its own unique sports car feeling and differentiates the 570S from the rest of the McLaren line. I found I was excited to drive the 570 down single country lanes, where the 570S hugged the road, eager to go wherever I pointed the car. If you want to change the character of the car you can play with McLaren’s active dynamics panel, located in the central space between the seats. Press “active” and then choose between normal, sport or track setting. I kept the car mostly in sport in both modes which sharpened up the already quick gearbox and gave the engine a deeper roar on the upshifts.

Active dynamics panel plus neutral, drive and reverse

Active dynamics panel plus neutral, drive and reverse

My first proper acceleration on the highway scared me for the first kilometre or two, as I felt the car was more in control than I so rapid was the acceleration. As I get to experience more supercars I continue to be amazed how differently they all deploy their power. The Ferrari F12 I drove last week was so silky smooth in its power delivery, yet I felt in control, whereas in this McLaren I felt the speed instantly, no doubt due in part to the change in suspension. On the highway as I ventured into naughty speeds the steering wheel required more attention to keep the car pointed on the straight and narrow, yet at speeds below the naughty realm the 570S is an easy car to drive. However light the twin-turbo V8 and you had better pay close attention. The McLaren 570S very considerately displays the speed limit of the road you are driving on, in a white box on the main display screen.
When you are in a bright volcano orange McLaren people and the constabularies are going to take notice of your rapid passage along the road or when you’re stopped at gas station. When I took my mother to the library, to test the “usability” of the 570S around an urban environment, a young women offered me her bike and her scooter in exchange for the McLaren. I told her I would have to think about it. Clearly wanting the car she asked as she was leaving if I made my decision yet. Unfortunately I had to say no to her generous offer. I am happy to report the luggage space in the nose of the 570 was sufficient for groceries, my camera equipment and some library books, but that is about all. On tests I usually don’t get to take many people out in the cars. This test was an exception, in addition to my mother I took my wife to an appointment, and picked my friend and fellow First Rides video host, Angelique, for her first McLaren ride. Angelique was the most enthusiastic of the three, as noted in her enthusiastic peels of delight as I encouraged the peddle ever flatter to the floor.

Angelique, First Rides video cohost.

Angelique, First Rides video cohost.

On my drive back to the McLaren’s home I was able to reflect on my time with the 570S. I continue to marvel at the brilliant cars McLaren has developed in so short a time frame. One day was all to brief a span to truly explore the full potential of the 570S, however it is a car I want to get to know far better. I think you could use this car every day, but you might be so beguiled by its seemingly benign nature that you will scare yourself with an exuberant use of your right foot. The final thought resonating in my mind is that the 570S has the acceleration of a McLaren F1, the horsepower of Ferrari 458, and every day drive ability. Such is the march of technological progress.

In my happy place.

In my happy place.