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McLaren 570S: Fast & Furious

McLaren says the new 570S is the ‘slow’ car in their range. Luxury London wonders who they’re trying to kid…

They’re a happy bunch at McLaren Automotive these days – even if their F1 counterparts have failed to capture a world championship since Lewis Hamilton became a national hero back in 2008. 

That’s because the close-knit team who make McLaren road cars have unveiled one of the most morish cars of recent years.

More clinical than a Porsche 911 Turbo, more brutal than an Aston Martin V12 Vantage, more exclusive than an Audi R8. Indeed, the company’s 570S has become the car for any true supercar fan. 

And the extra good news is that the ‘slowest’ model in the new McLaren range is also the cheapest. In reality, that means a 204mph two-seater that costs £143,000. However, what isn’t quantifiable is the fact the 570S is guaranteed to leave you breathless, panting and wanting more.

McLaren aficionados will spot the subtle differences to the 570S design straight away. The rest of us could be forgiven for thinking this is the P1 hypercar, minus the outsize spoiler and £866,000 price tag. Which is no bad thing because the P1 is already the stuff of legend.

Tucked away neatly in the back of the 570S and clearly visible through the rear screen is a turbocharged 3.8-litre V8.

It churns out a quite magnificent 562bhp that will flick the speedometer through 60mph from standstill in 3.1 seconds. And remember – this is the ‘slow’ McLaren.

The company says the 570S needs to appeal to a wider audience, as a more practical sports car. And that’s not because it is the first ever McLaren equipped with a vanity mirror and glovebox. The electro-hydraulic steering, softer suspension set up and brilliant seven-speed auto gearbox all make it user-friendly. In fact, it’s the first McLaren that’s as ‘everyday’ as a Porsche 911.

We spoke exclusively to McLaren’s chief designer, Rob Melville, at the 570S launch in Portugal. “The 570S had to have a broader breadth of ability. It’s also part of the new, more affordable Sports Series that’s all about usability and practicality. You still need the visual drama of a McLaren because it’s a very fast sports car. But I think it’s perfectly practical as an everyday vehicle. I’m really pleased with the overall proportions of the car. I always say to all designers that proportion is king. If you can get a really well balanced shape, all the details fit nicely around it." 

“I love the way the rear corners are cambered in and the fact that the wheels are pushed right back into those corners. The 570S has great angles from nose to tail. My favourite panel is the rear fender, it’s so sculptural.”

The mountain roads of the Algarve are a perfect place to exploit the potential of the aluminium-panelled 570S. The classic, mid-engined shape benefits from a peach of a gearbox, comfortable seats and the perfect driving position.

McLaren has teamed up with audio specialists Bowers & Wilkins to create a thumping sound system too. And in an attempt to make the car even more ‘everyday’, there are cupholders, storage bins and a touchscreen centre console that doesn’t require a technology degree to understand.

The lightweight, carbon-fibre chassis of the 570S will flatter your handling skills and encourage you on at an ever greater velocity. The only drawback could be how many points you have on your driving licence and the fact that the low ride height means the underbelly will scuff out on uneven roads.

You might find the electric seat adjustment fiddly to operate and the driver’s cupholder tricky to reach. The sun visor doesn’t swing around to cover the side window either but really I’m splitting hairs here. Just five minutes behind the steering wheel should be enough to convince anyone.

Every McLaren comes with a heritage of legendary proportions too. McLaren Automotive may have only five years producing road cars but company founder, Bruce McLaren built his first racing car more than 60 years ago.

McLaren was killed while testing a new car at Goodwood Circuit in 1970 but his legacy lived on in at McLaren F1 team that nurtured racing superstars, such as James Hunt, Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna.

If that’s not enough to tempt you, later this year McLaren will launch a 570S sister car. The 540C is slightly detuned and around £20,000 cheaper but I can guarantee the low-fat version will be every carbon-fibre inch as entertaining as the 570S.

The McLaren is the finest machine I’d piloted for some time. My advice is get your order in now.