Now is a very good time to be rich. For the ludicrously affluent 1%, dealing with first-world problems has never been more trying.
Well, I’ve never wanted to join the ranks of the ultra-rich more. You see, I’ve driven a number of supercars over the years, but never has one triggered such an effect on me.
McLaren is new to me. I had some expectations, of course, but I wasn’t sure if I was thinking more Lamborghini or Aston Martin. By the end of my time with the 570S, I was in love. Not in love due to the simple fact that it’s an expensive supercar and that I got all kinds of attention and that it’s fast, no. I fell in love with its good manners, extreme competence, and good looks.
The McLaren 570S turned out to be a breath of fresh air in the intense and hyper-competitive supercar segment where everyone’s out to outdo the other guy. It does not have the biggest wing or wheels, nor does it have the most powerful engine or loudest exhaust. It is full of charisma, however, and it earnestly seduces the senses.
Unlike some Italian or European supercars, the McLaren 570S wears a comfortable, bespoke suit from a tailor on Savile Row. The car’s body is beautifully curvaceous, elegant, and powerful. McLaren designers did not feel the need for massive air dams, 2-storey spoilers, and tank-wide flared fenders. The whole of the car is confined within a compact and highly efficient package.
It’s also incredibly sexy. The 570S’ styling is akin to a dress that leaves just enough to the imagination, unlike a skimpy bikini that reveals all.
Suit or dress, I should make up my mind… Look at it this way: if you like guys, go for suit. I’m a ladies’ man, so I’ll go with the dress Audrey Hepburn wore at the 1954 Academy Awards.
The entirety of the car’s exterior appearance is purposeful, from the side air intakes to the buttress-type rear pillars that direct air to the subtle, integrated rear spoiler.
What about inner beauty?
The cabin of the McLaren 570S follows the same trend. Generally speaking, it’s quite sparse, yet extremely functional at the same time.
The 7” touchscreen handles all things entertainment and comfort. The menus are simple to understand and navigate, including the HVAC system and the 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio unit. The Active Dynamics Panel is the important part, and once again, its presentation is very unpretentious. Some of the settings and adjustments require a little more attention, but I got accustomed to the surroundings mere moments later.
The available Power Sport Seats and the driving position are both fantastic, with one small exception: The carbon fibre tub curves inward and thus ensconces the pedals, making left-foot braking somewhat difficult for those who use this technique.
The feeling one gets when behind the wheel of a mid-rear engine car is unique and powerful. The McLaren 570S’ cockpit is beautifully crafted and driver-friendly, yet still quite exotic.
By the power of Woking!
Firing up the 3.8L twin-turbocharged V8 with optional Sport Exhaust is an event. Unlike most sports cars, the 570S’ sport exhaust is always on; there is no way to turn it down. McLaren engineers have thought this through as the note is omnipresent, but not terribly incommodious. In other words, it won’t interrupt you.
The noise and vibration do penetrate the cabin upon start-up. It’s at this point that your arm hairs will rise to attention ― assuming that opening the dihedral doors and dropping into the car didn’t do it. For such a sophisticated animal, getting underway is almost disconcertingly uncomplicated: just press the “D” button. From this moment on, 562 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque are at your beck and call.
Before channelling all that power to the rear wheels via the 7-speed Seamless Shift dual-clutch Gearbox (SSG), I emphatically invite you to simply drive the McLaren 570S. It’s your turn to listen.
I needed to keep the excitement at bay for a few moments if only to experience the 570S’ normal mode. That didn’t last long, however. Barely a few minutes in, my index finger was all over the “ACTIVE” button. This little round, centrally located switch transfers some if not most of the control over to the driver, unlocking the chassis and powertrain settings.
The first to be initiated is the manual mode, which is a must here. As with the majority of sports cars, leaving the suspension in normal or comfort mode is best for the city and also many highways. The most satisfying combination was the chassis in “N” and powertrain in “S”.
In any setting, the McLaren 570S has no intention to scare the pants off of the occupants ― it is courteous to a fault. Power delivery creates no drama, and consequently no waste.
While the Lamborghini Huracán, under full acceleration, makes the driver understand that it is working hard to tame the power (its differential and tires endure clear and present torture), this British gentleman ensures that the only result of the throttle going against the firewall is space shuttle-like forward thrust.
Picture yourself at the top part of your favourite ride at an amusement park. The initial release as you head down the steep incline is almost docile, but before you know it your face is turned inside out. Same thing in the 570S.
Courteous curve crusher
To say that this McLaren handles well is like saying ice cream is cold and sweet. The double-wishbone suspension with adaptive dampers at every corner does such a complex and competent job that you really do feel like you’re riding on rails. In normal mode, the 570S is quite nearly comfortable ― it’s astounding.
In any mode, mind you, the McLaren 570S provides the driver with more usable and instantaneous grip than can ever fully be exploited on the road. Only a track, and with the right driver at the wheel, will test the car’s limits. On said road, sharp, decreasing-radius turns seem to barely tickle the car’s neutrality and unflappable stability. The deeper you go into the throttle, the more it feels at home and solid.
Turn-in is immediate, but not smash-your-head-on-the-window immediate. The whole driving experience is devoid of burdens ― the 570S does not require 274% of your attention like most other supercars. It’s quite refreshing and rewarding.
And this is a good thing because the main issue is always other motorists. The gawkers that swerve into the 570S’ lane as they try and shoot video or take pictures over their shoulders with their phones. Let’s not forget the constant flow of challengers…
McLaren is here to stay, and growing
Believe it or not, McLaren has an even more posh version in the 570GT. This model offers more practicality in the form of a rear glass hatch (or trunk) and extra comfort. The new 2016 McLaren 570S serves as the entry point to the brand ― that is until the 540S arrives a little later.
A gentleman is someone that is personable, friendly, and approachable. This car, just like the British manufacturer and its representatives at McLaren Montreal, has all of these qualities. Look out, Ferrari and Aston Martin: McLaren is here to stay and will likely take some lustre off the cars in red.