“Holy (expletive-that-shouldn’t-be-coming-out-of-a-12-year-old’s mouth)! That costs more than my dad’s house!”
“So f-in sweet!”
Yes, the kids like the 2018 McLaren 570S Spider. If I didn’t know before Halloween night, I definitely knew after. And that was just one roving group of youngsters. I also got comments from adults: “I don’t want any candy; I just wanted to see the car.” Cops on Woodward Ave. pulled up next to me, gave a thumbs up, whooped the sirens and then revved the engine like they wanted to race. I just smiled and did not engage in their shenanigans.
I’ll admit I was a little concerned about the massive Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires combined with the 35-degree temps in Michigan that week, but the (relatively) lightweight 570S took the freezing pavement in stride — or in ride, as the case may be. The only time I got a little sideways was this morning in the sheeting rain on slick, shiny blacktop.
It’s hard to call the 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 in this car a monster. It doesn’t overwhelm your senses with vibration and noise. It just feels like a precision piece of hardware that doesn’t do any more than asked — or any less. With your foot 20 percent into the throttle, it cruises away from most cars at a stoplight. Push it down 50 percent of the way and it starts to makes things disappear in the rearview. Once you get to 100 percent, just hold on. It sounds great, exotic, loud, all of those things, but the one thing it doesn’t sound like is music, like a Ferrari does. It’s just a straight, middle C, plasticky roar that reminds me of the current turbocharged F1 engines.
The paddles shifters for the seven-speed dual-clutch are made from unfinished carbon fiber and beg the fingers to do the shifting. The three different modes for the powertrain — normal, sport and track — all have different shift characteristics, similar to the 675LT we drove a few years ago. Normal is deceptively smooth, sport makes a little more noise and track gives a full kick in the back. After day one, I kept it in track powertrain mode and normal handling mode. Each is adjustable independently.
The Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel takes less effort than you might expect, but the ratio is quick, and it gets quicker as the modes get more intense. It’s electronically boosted, yet it still sends a little feedback from the road, which is always nice. That and the power make the car feel lighter than its 3,300-pound curb weight; on the brakes, not so much.
Bringing all that velocity back to zero takes a lot more literal effort than getting it up to triple-digit speeds. The pedal is stiff, and the first 2 inches of compression don’t really do anything, which is kind of scary. Once you do get bite, you still have to push a little harder than is comfortable, but I think that’s still better than them being too sensitive or too easy to push. Obviously the carbon ceramic discs were unfadeable on the street. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any track time in our limited stint with McLaren’s Sports Series car.
I’m still not sure about this gray color; McLaren calls it blade silver. I mean, this car is going to stick out no matter the hue, but I think I like the wilder stuff better — gimme orange, blue, or even green. Regardless of color, one look and you can tell this 570 is something serious. Everyone on the road sure knew. I love all of the scallops and air wedges, but I commented last time I drove one that I thought they might pick up road debris, and this time, they did. I was trailing a pickup truck on the highway and saw a Subway wrapper flying around. It went under the car in front, which was the last time I saw it, until I got home and it was plastered across one of the front air intakes. Not cool, though I don’t really see a way to avoid it.
I do have some complaints, which I kept a list of during my drive only because the looks, powertrain and suspension are so close to perfect that there’s not much else to think about.
The footwell area is way too narrow. I’ve been having a little sciatic-type pain in my leg and keeping it angled toward the center of the car with my ankle cocked didn’t help. Also, the nose lift doesn’t work when going in reverse or when there’s a message on the screen like “passenger not belted.” That’s a problem because I needed to raise it enter my driveway, I want it slammed while parked overnight, and then I needed to raise it back up to get out. You’ll have to do that first, before you go in reverse.
The infotainment system is a little convoluted. It takes some time to get used to. The central button takes you back to the home screen, but there is a lot of delay sometimes. I also found it damn near impossible to cancel route guidance after I accidentally initialized it. It also doesn’t jive with polarized sunglasses, so keep that in mind. None of the exotics has a “good” infotainment system, so this isn’t too far from the competition, but damn — Kia can do a great one, why can’t McLaren? I do love that the radio stays on during startup, so when you plug in your phone as you sit down, it starts playing through the speakers and doesn’t have to cut off during ignition. Finally, the seat adjustments are on the inside of the seats, next to where the tunnel would be. You can’t see them, you just have to jab until you find the right one. I can’t remember which manufacturer has the same type of thing, but the layout comes up on the screen once you start messing with them, so at least you can see the layout. Add that, McLaren.
People go nuts over this car, more so than the Ferrari California T, more so than the Audi R8 — cops, kids, adults, whatever. For $200,000-ish, you can get a 911 Turbo Cabriolet, the aforementioned California T, the R8 Spyder or this. The 570S and the California T are the rear-wheel-drive choices, but none offer a manual transmission. Sorry “standard” fans.
A rear-driver would be my choice, and since the California T is more of cruising grand tourer, this 570S Spider is probably it for me. However, if I had $200K, I wouldn’t buy a convertible, I’d get a $145,000 Porsche 911 GT3 instead. A few options could bring that into the $170K range for sure, and I’d feel like I got my money’s worth. On second thought, scratch that — you’ll get your money’s worth with any of these cars, and you’ll be very happy doing so. As long as you don’t mind being gawked at, talked to and race-challenged.
OPTIONS: Luxury pack with almond white and carbon black ($6,800); carbon-fiber interior upgrade ($6,680); 10-spoke lightweight wheels ($5,140); sport exhaust ($4,090); carbon-fiber pack 1 ($3,930); by McLaren design interior ($3,110); exterior special paint – blade silver ($1,740); vehicle lift ($1,560); ceramic brakes ($1,110); car cover ($560); battery charger ($230)
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $208,800
Powertrain: 3.8-liter turbocharged V8, RWD, seven-speed dual-clutch
Output: 562 hp @ 7,500 rpm; 443 lb-ft @ 5,000-6,500 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,302.5 pounds
0-60 MPH: 3.1 seconds
Fuel Economy: 16/23/19 (EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: It’s a conversation starter, with everyone
Cons: Brake feel, narrow pedalbox, wonky infotainment