What is it?
The idea here is not to create a bargain econo McLaren, but to “expand the availability of these splendid cars to a whole new range of buyers.” Or, more accurately, to lessees, since most people will lease them when the 570S goes on sale in December. And don’t call it a decontented 650S. Though it kind of is. But even a decontented 650S is still more fun to buy than a Ferrari 488 and a lot more fun to drive than an Audi R8, Lamborghini Huracan or most any Aston Martin, though those cars are easier to live with every day.
There are three seat choices available, two racing-style seats and one more luxury-oriented. The adjuster controls for any of them are a little awkward.
To make the 570S, McLaren started with the 650S and began unchecking the parts list to knock off about a third of the sticker — from $273,600 for a 650S to $187,400 for a 570S. The 650’s active aero is gone, replaced with an exterior that offers zero lift but negligible aerodynamic downforce. The fancy hydraulic suspension from the 650S is replaced with independent shocks and simple, mechanical anti-roll bars; McLaren claims they give the 570S “a better, more lively feel.” Or as lively as you can get with electrohydraulic steering which, in this case, is pretty lively. Gone also are the carbon fiber fenders, replaced by good old stamped aluminum (though one aluminum panel, the center rear deck lid, is not stamped but heated and blown into shape).
What isn’t taken away is the same basic carbon fiber tub as the 650, except the front of the door sill is cut down some on the 570 to allow easier ingress and egress. The extruded aluminum front and rear are the same, as is the basic profile. The wheelbase is also the same. Underhood the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 has 30 percent “bespoke” parts and the turbos are unique to this car, McLaren said. We suspected the main reason the 570 makes 562 hp and the 650 makes 641 is that the wastegate is left closed on the 650S longer than it is on the 570S. But McLaren engineers pointed out the 570S also gets: new cam phasers that change the timing and ignition, almost all-new software for the engine management and gearbox shifting, and new oil pump, exhaust manifold, injectors and a revised air inlet. Regardless, at less than full throttle and through most of the rev range, you might not really notice the difference in horsepower.
Valence panel smooths out rear air flow.
What’s it like to drive?
It’s still a screamer, despite its downgrade from six-fiftydom, because even a decontented 650S is still a screaming-good McLaren.
We drove first through Portuguese countryside all ribboned with lovely two-lane roads strewn across rolling cork hills from Faro to the sea and back again. Then it rained — intermittently at first, then pouring down in parts-bins of water, bringing windshield wipers to full flap and streaming aqua frio across the pavement as we passed Renault panel van after Renault panel van until we came around a corner and lined up perfectly behind a ginormous farm tractor going about half a kilometer an hour and we stomped on the carbon ceramic brakes hard.
The Pirelli Corsos never flinched. True, we had the ESP set in “Big Fat Sissy” mode and so there was an enormous electronic safety net strung beneath us, but even so we couldn’t really get the front to plow nor the rear to veer, though in the interests of self-preservation maybe we weren’t pushing as hard in the rain as we might have in the dry. Regardless, the McLaren held on like it was positively magnetic (yes, you are right, it couldn’t be because it’s made of carbon fiber and non-ferrous metals). Then we got to the sadistic Autodromo Internacional do Algarve out in the countryside somewhere north of the Portuguese golf resort and drinking paradise of Faro, and man…
And it does do well on a track.
Who in the high hades designed this track? It is a tortured convolution of blind rises and U-turns; it makes the deadly dangerous Nurburgring look like the guided rails of the Disneyland Autopia. Had we the brains God gave a differential gear, we would have studied this track on the Internet until we had every blind rise visualized and every handbrake hurler committed to rote.
Instead, we got two laps in the passenger’s seat with an instructor driving and speaking very slowly and calmly followed by about three or four or maybe five (in all the confusion we kind of lost count) laps driving while the McLaren driving instructor who might have been named Cedric or Portsmouth or Basil said things like “Brake, Brake, BRAAAAAKE!” and “…downshift, downshift, DOWNSHIFT!!!!” a lot less calmly than he was speaking just a couple laps before. We could never remember if the next blind rise was the one preceeding the sudden left or the death-defying second-gear right. Or maybe it was the more or less straight drop where the whole car got light and slid deliriously down to drop off the face of the Earth on the left where all the spinning skidmarks were.
Didn’t matter, it turned out, because the McLaren held on quite well despite whatever setting Nigel the driving instructor had put it in. At least that was true in the first two settings of normal and sport. When he switched to track mode, we could really slide around, scaring the bangers and mash out of poor Ian, or Colin or whatever the guy’s name was. He reached for the wheel a couple times when the rear end swung a bit wide in the first few turns after track mode was engaged and we had maybe given it a little too much throttle, but the system (and a good old British dab of oppo) caught the car before Charles caught the wheel and off we sped to Portuguese glory.
You won’t be crying for more performance even though the 570S has just a little bit less of it than the 650S from which it came.
Do I want it?
We’d humbly suggest the 650S is the better, faster, sportier, more responsive car. It’s only about 86 grand more, and you can just stop making the payments on the alimony until the ex hauls you back into court one more time, wherein you can claim, “Oops, sorry.” But by then, you’ll have had several months driving a McLaren 650S and you know what? It’s been worth it. However, McLaren is positing the 570S as the more liveable daily driver. Consider: If you lease a 570S you can do so for somewhere between $2,000 and $2,500 a month, entirely reasonable considering how much your quality of life is going to skyrocket in either the 570S sport car or the 650S supercar.
The 570S is the first entry-level McLaren made (not counting the not-for-U.S.-sale 540C) and represents our first taste of the brand’s new class of sports car. The next class up is supercar, where the 650S and 675LT reside. Above that is the ultimate class where you’ll find the P1 and P1GTR. If you have one of those, for God’s sake call us and let’s go for a drive, man! See you at the McLaren dealer.
On Sale: December
Base Price: $187,400
Drivetrain: 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8, mid-rear-longitudinally mounted, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, rwd
Output: 562 hp at 7500 rpm, 443 lb-ft at 5000 to 6500 rpm
Curb Weight: 3186 pounds
0-60 MPH: 3.2 seconds 0-62 mph (mfg.)
Fuel Economy: 26.6 mpg EU Combined(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Oh man!
Cons: Who has $187,400 on them? Let’s go halves!