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McLaren 570S review - alert, engaging, better than a 911 Turbo?

Dan Prosser
26 Apr 2017
Verdict:

The 570S has the sweetest chassis in its class, and values driver enjoyment over outright pace, making it a more enjoyable car than the 650S

Evo Rating: 
Price: 
£143,250
For 
Sweet chassis, sense of fun, everyday appeal
Against 
Styling is a little awkward, flat engine note in cabin
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What is it?

Admittedly, a McLaren is never going to be a cheap, budget option - but the 570S was the lowest-priced McLaren by quite some margin when it launched, only undercut now by the 540C. With a £143,250 price tag, the 570S is cheaper than the 650S by more than £50,000, which is new territory for the brand - and opens it up to those who might otherwise have considered an Audi R8 or a Porsche 911 Turbo S. Consequently, it's a big deal for McLaren, with just as much sales potential as its rivals - and far more than the 650S.

The 570S was the first model released in McLaren’s new Sports Series range, which slots in beneath the Super and Ultimate Series. The Sports Series will eventually grow into an expansive and broad line-up, with a more affordable 540C version costing £126,000 sitting underneath the 570S already.

A drop-top model has already been confirmed for 2017 and there's also the more practical 570GT - a grand tourer-style car with more luggage space. We’re quietly hoping for a hardcore version in the mould of the intoxicating 675LT, too.

The Sport Series is tasked with more than doubling McLaren’s overall road car output to more than 4000 units per year – it’s the crux of the McLaren Automotive business model. It’s more than a little bit important, then, that the 570S hits the right notes from day one.

Engine, transmission and 0-60mph time

The 570S uses the same 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 that serves throughout the McLaren line-up – right up to the £1.98m P1 GTR – although it has been modified extensively for this application.

Compared to the 650S’s power unit the engine is 30 per cent different with new internals and valve gear. Rated at 562bhp at 7500rpm and 443lb ft from 5000rpm the 570S’s engine is some way down on the 650S’s (641bhp and 500lb ft), but it has the same high redline and linear torque curve. The flat-plane crank V8 uses a dry sump lubrication system and a stop-start function is included for the first time on a McLaren.

The gearbox is the familiar seven-speed twin clutch unit, or Seamless Shift Gearbox in McLaren speak, driving the rear wheels through an open differential. The engine and gearbox can be switched from Normal mode into Sport or Track to improve response and cut shift times.

The 570S manages 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds and has a top speed of 204mph.

Machinerynical highlights

Like all McLarens, the 570S is built around a very light, stiff carbon fibre tub. Called MonoCell II, the chassis is similar to that of the 650S but it’s been adapted to improve access to the cabin – the Sports Series is billed as an everyday sports car rather than an occasional use supercar, after all. Notably, 80mm has been trimmed out of the sill height to ease ingress and egress.

The tub weighs just 75kg and McLaren claims it’s 25 per cent stiffer than an equivalent aluminium structure. Front and rear subframes, made from aluminium, carry the drivetrain and suspension components.

The dry weight of the car, with certain lightweight options, is quoted as 1313kg – add another 100kg or so for a kerb weight. That figure undercuts the Porsche 911 Turbo S by some 250kg and the Audi R8 V10+ by 150kg.

As the least powerful and most affordable model in the range it’s tempting to call the Sports Series the baby McLaren. In fact, it’s actually fractionally bigger than the 650S (longer by 21mm, wider by 2mm and taller by 3mm), which indicates an effort to improve cabin and storage space in a nod to daily use.

One of the primary points of difference between the 570S and 650S in chassis terms is the use of conventional anti-roll bars rather than the complex ProActive Chassis Control system that has featured on all modern McLarens to date. The ProActive system links the dampers hydraulically to decouple, to some extent at least, ride and roll stiffness. The simpler anti-roll bar solution serves as a point of difference to the rest of the McLaren line-up and also reduces complexity and cost.  

The car runs on double wishbones all round with three-way adaptive dampers, offering Normal, Sport and Track modes to reflect the powertrain options.

The 570S does without active aerodynamic components, but the frontal area, rear diffuser, flying buttresses and bodywork have all been carefully designed to reduce drag, precisely direct cooling air or create downforce.

What’s it like to drive?

What first stands out on the road is the impressively pliant and relaxed ride quality. In Normal mode the 570S is hugely comfortable, both around town and on the motorway, with none of the crashiness that you might expect of a car with such dynamic ability.

The gearbox, meanwhile, works without fuss in automatic mode and the sound of the engine is well subdued. This is car would be no more taxing in daily use than an Audi R8 or Porsche 911 Turbo apart from the fact that, despite the reprofiled carbon tub, it’s still a slightly tricky car to get into and out of. The cabin quality is good for the most part – although the satellite navigation did frequently confuse itself – and storage space is far beyond that of a 650S.

McLaren offers Sport and Luxury trim levels for the cabin. Naturally we’d recommend the Sport option, and with it the optional sports seats. They offer superb support in hard driving, but they’re also perfectly comfortable over a long journey.

The 570S has the sweetest chassis of any car in this class. Ramp the handling and powertrain modes up to Sport and the 570S becomes a responsive, agile and rewarding car. That impressive ride quality translates into pliancy and suppleness when you push a little harder, so the car rides over bumps without being thrown off course and lands with real control into compressions.

The clever bit is it the body always remains tautly controlled, never feeling as though that pliant setup has been achieved simply by winding off the spring rates. With such tight-fisted body control the 570S is alert and agile, finding good bite on its Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres.

On turn in the front axle grips hard and the car resists roll, so it feels urgent and precise into a corner. The steering is also crisp and direct, with a strong sense of connection to the front axle once the chassis has been loaded up. At corner exit, the car finds good traction despite the lack of a limited slip differential.

With the ESC system knocked back to its Dynamic setting you can also revel in the chassis’ natural balance, applying the throttle confidently and early to provoke the rear axle into swinging around progressively. This is a much more playful car than the 650S – completely by design – and that makes it more fun on a twisting road. Much of that is down to its more progressive, less critical transition from grip to slip.

The carbon ceramic brakes serve up very strong stopping power, but the brake pedal itself feels wooden and lifeless anywhere short of full force.

The gearbox swaps cogs quickly and cleanly in manual mode, as you’d expect of a twin-clutch unit. The twin-turbocharged V8 is familiar from the 650S, despite its 30 per cent new parts, which means it needs a moment to wind itself up from below 3500rpm, but above that it’s sharp and response with huge performance and an energetic run to the far side of 8000rpm.

That slight degree of lag can be a nuisance in very tight corners when engine speeds drop below the 3500rpm threshold, but otherwise it’s no chore to keep the engine on the boil. Our test car was fitted with the optional sports exhaust, and although it did sound fairly potent from outside that aural quality didn’t find its way into the cabin.

The 570S feels quick in a straight line – how could a 562bhp car that weighs 1400kg not? – but it never serves up the breathtaking straight-line hit of the 650S, or a 911 Turbo for that matter. The R8’s normally-aspirated V10 is massively more exciting than the McLaren’s twin-turbo V8, meanwhile.

Rivals

The Porsche 911 Turbo S and Audi R8 V10+ are directly comparable in terms of price (costing £142,120 and £134,500 respectively). Both cars lack the McLaren’s exclusivity and exotic construction, but the Porsche feels quicker in a straight line and is even more useable thanks to its small rear bench, while the R8’s joyous V10 puts the 570S’s engine in the shade.

Neither the Porsche nor the Audi, however, is quite as engaging and rewarding to drive as the 570S.

Price

The McLaren 570S starts at £143,250. Mantis Green paintwork will set you back a further £3420, while the full carbon fibre exterior pack costs an eye-watering £13,270.

The sports exhaust is a further £3180 and the sports seats an additional £4910.

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