MAR 31st 2015

MCLAREN 570S SPORTS SERIES UNVEILED: 911 DRIVERS ARE YOU TEMPTED?

Does McLaren’s entry-level supercar make the Porsche 911 Turbo look like a top-of-the-range sportscar ..?

New York, New York – so good they named it twice. Question is, will McLaren’s third model range,  the 570S launched at the NY Show today, prove as popular?

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This is our first look at the new McLaren 570S, Woking’s £145,000, 200mph rival for top-end Porsche 911s and thus its most accessible and affordable model to date. Relatively speaking, that is.

It’s also McLaren Automotive delivering on its big promise of a three-tier model line-up. ‘Baby Mac’ marks the arrival of the entry-level Sports Series and as such needs to sell in far greater numbers than anything McLaren has done so far. Last year the company shifted 1648 cars but wants long-term to sell 4000.

All to play for then…

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If you are not in New York (and we’re not, but our man Chris Harris is, and he will be reporting back to GRR from the 570S launch soon)  we suggest that before reading further you scroll through the picture gallery above. See what we are talking about here.

Pore over the  pictures, as we did, expecting to see a (very) close relation of the 650S and you will not be disappointed. It IS a close relation of the 650S, and the 12C before it: right out of the same mid-engined mould, built around the same carbon-fibre MonoCell chassis and complete with dihedral lift-up doors and McLaren’s signature LED light shapes.

Mechanically too, the 570S follows the McLaren pattern with essentially the same twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8, but with the dial turned down from 11 to, well, actually it’s not turned down that much.

Return of the flying buttress…

So far so familiar. But… don’t you think it’s also rather pretty? It’s nice to see a McLaren design without too much going on. McLaren’s smiley-mouthed front end has a fresh simplicity that works for us. Ditto the pleasingly-shaped black side ‘tendons’ which cut across the door and lead into the air intakes.

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You will have your own opinions but we like the uncluttered look at the back, too. And it’s nice that the engine is visible through that black aluminium mesh on the rear deck.

Plus, the ‘flying buttresses’! Mustn’t forget them. They are touted by McLaren as a design USP for the Sports Series, as well as an effective aerodynamic device – by channeling air over the back wing they are said to add an extra 8kg of downforce. Stylistically they emphasise the teardrop glasshouse shape and lead seamlessly into the concave rear window – something else that’s quite different from other McLarens. Neat then but hardly in the same league as famous flying buttresses of ’70s supercars.

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Overall? Obviously a McLaren. Obviously a lot in common with the 650S. But very pretty and purposeful without being too aggressive: we reckon you’d be waved out at junctions in this car rather than hooted at. Generating warm feelings from fellow road users is par for the McLaren course, in our experience, and should be a big positive in the more mainstream sports car market that McLaren is aiming at with this car.

Somewhere for the travel sweets

McLaren has had to be more accommodating of its new breed of buyers on the inside too by making the car more… accommodating. This is a McLaren that in all likelihood will need to keep the passenger just as content as the driver, the way a 911 Turbo or Aston Martin Vantage can. The result, says the company, is a focus on usability and interior space like no other McLaren.

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Standard seats are leather trimmed, amply padded and made for long distance comfort (sportier seats are optional). The revised MonoCell II tub means this should be the easiest McLaren to get into and out of. And there are cubbyholes! An extra 150 litres worth of in-car stowage space over the 650S, in addition to the front luggage bay.

McLaren has jazzed up its interiors too and the plainness of old is a distant memory now, without any apparent sacrifice of that pared-back driver focus that McLaren does so well. There are lots of options (of course) including a bespoke Bowers & Wilkins audio system with 1280W of surround sound.

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Are you thinking what we are thinking – here’s a mid-engined sports coupe to please even a demanding other half on that surprise jaunt to the Med and back. Heavens, the car might even get near the official combined fuel consumption of 25mpg. Nothing wrong with any of that, but… first and foremost it has to be a sports car.

Best power-weight ratio in class…

Nought to 124mph in 9.5secs says it’s definitely a sports car. It’s almost a second quicker than the similarly priced 911 Turbo S. Perhaps more interestingly 9.5secs is only a second slower than the ‘Super Series’ McLaren 650S – which might cause a few furrowed brows among 650 owners. One second to 124mph (and just two-tenths from 0-62mph) surely isn’t much to differentiate a McLaren ‘Sports’ car from a  McLaren ‘Super’ car.

The V8, almost a third of which is new claims McLaren, delivers 570PS or a true 562bhp, with 443 lb ft of torque. The gearbox is McLaren’s familiar seven-speed SSG paddle-shift auto, and with an all-up weight of 1313kg nothing in the class gets close on the all-important power/weight ratio.

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Taming all this are standard carbon-ceramic brakes, Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres on forged alloy wheels (19s front, 20s rear) and suspension of dual wishbones and anti-roll bars front and rear, with adaptive dampers – a system quite distinct from that of the other McLaren models. But you do still get ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Track’ handling settings.

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Other Sports Series models are yet to launch, including a less powerful C for Club version, a touring model and convertible. For now, though, the 570S will do very nicely thank you. Any big question marks? Not on performance that’s for sure. It’s really only whether that new and simpler suspension can deliver ride and handling to match the McLaren norm that will exercise road testers’ minds in the weeks to come.

We’ll be first in the queue to bring you driving impressions, but we have a feeling some chap by the name of Jenson Button might be ahead of us. Yes indeedy, the Supercar Shoot-Out at the Festival of Speed this year could be quite revealing… 

 The 570S at a glance:

Price £145,000 (approx)
Power 570PS (562bhp) at 7400rpm
Torque 600Nm (443 lb ft) at 5000rpm
Weight 1313kg
0-62mph 3.2secs
0-124mph 9.5secs
0-186mph Not quoted
Top speed 204mph
Power/weight  428bhp/tonne
MPG and CO2 25.5mpg/258g/km

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