There it was, sitting in my driveway as I returned home after running out for errands. A bright Curacao blue McLaren 570S, all mine for the next few days. I made my typical first-impression walkaround. My test car was slathered in all the carbon fiber trim that the vast options sheet had to offer. The retractable roof performs a lovely mechanical tango while whooshing and buzzing its way into a small space just aft of the cabin. It looks just as beautiful with the top down as it does up.
The doors open in a sort of dihedral manner, once you figure out where the handles are hidden (in the black space underneath the bodycolor swoosh at the top), and once they are fully erect, it’s not terribly difficult to contort yourself inside.
My first thought: I could drive this thing every day.
And so I did. For the next three days, I would use only the McLaren 570S to get from one place to another. I went to the grocery store, drove to dinner, and made a spur-of-the-moment trip up north from Seattle to Bellingham. Here’s what I learned.
- Those dihedral doors look sweet — a prerequisite for any proper supercar — but the way the glass rises from the doors means opening them also opens up the roof section, so there’s really no way to keep the rain out when entering. That doesn’t matter on beautiful sunny days, but remember, this is my daily driver for the weekend, come rain or shine.
- The most difficult part of getting cozy is adjusting the seat. The buttons are at the front of the seat, and, best I can tell, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason as to which button moves or controls what surface. It’s a 15-minute guessing game of button mashing, praying, cursing, and trying again.
- It’s actually fairly comfortable inside the 570S once you find a correct seating position. You sit low, but not so low that your legs are parallel with the floor. There’s ample headroom for a six-plus-footer. Visibility is actually pretty good. I set myself to the task of roving about the cabin, testing switches and buttons, and generally getting familiar with my surroundings.
- The infotainment system is, for this day and age, rudimentary. But that hardly matters, considering the car’s purpose. Let’s dip into the throttle and hear the sound of 3.8 twin-turbocharged liters of displacement. There are 562 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque waiting to burst out, at least once the engine settles into a completely reasonable idle after its somewhat frenetic minute-long warm-up routine.
- There are enough buttons, switches, and dials on the console and steering wheel to merit a look at the manual, or, you could do what I did and start pressing things until the car is in Sport mode and the gearbox is in drive.
- There’s some tire scrub at low speeds during tight maneuvering, like what’s required to exit my winding, tree-lined driveway. That’s to be expected with big, wide, aggressive tires and track-ready suspension and steering geometry, and nothing to worry about. If your passenger asks, tell ’em they are sitting in a street-legal race car and to sit down, shut up, and hold on. Unless it’s your spouse, as it was mine, in the passenger seat. In that case, definitely leave out the “shut up” part.
- If you’re driving on a race track, there’s almost never a time when having more horsepower is a bad thing. When you’re driving on the street, in a carbon-fiber missile like the McLaren 570S, even 562 hp feels like more than enough. Especially in Seattle, in the winter, when it’s raining, like it was the first time I took the McLaren out for a spin to familiarize myself with the British supercar. Underway, it’s easy to modulate the throttle on wet asphalt, in part because the engine doesn’t really scream until it’s got a few thousand RPMs to work with.
- My street is littered with speed bumps, dips, bumps, and cracks. The 570S has a mode accessed via a steering wheel button, to raise or lower the suspension. I didn’t need to use that raised mode on my street, but I did when I tried to pull into the local Trader Joe’s parking lot, lest I should unceremoniously scrape the front carbon fiber splitter across the driveway’s incline. Of course, stopping to raise the car meant forcing the cars behind me to stop in unison. Only one driver honked — I waved and mimed that I was sorry, since I couldn’t tell him I was doing this for science — everybody else just enjoyed the spectacle.
- You can fit two full paper bags worth of groceries in the front storage compartment (frunk for short).
- On day two of McLaren daily driving, the weather report again showed nothing but rain. Well, that’s why we’re having this little test, right? My wife and I hopped in and headed north in a deluge that seemed destined to last 40 days and 40 nights. Then, in a miraculous moment, the doves found their olive leaves, the sky opened up, and we got off the highway a little south of Bellingham for a run up Chuckanut Drive. With the rain gone for a glorious half hour, the top went down, we snaked the road between the coast and the mountains, and stopped for a few sunset pictures before the sun set in the distance.
- And that is what supercars like the McLaren 570S are all about. Onlookers ogled, pedestrians preened for a closer look, and my wife and I posed for pics. Our social media friends probably hated us for a night, but on the return slog home, as the deluge came back with a vengeance, I didn’t care. Driving the 570S is a blast, rain or shine, night or day.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a good daily driver. After the debacle at Trader Joe’s, I resorted to parking on the street everywhere we went, and I was so worried that someone would even put fingerprints on the supercar that was in my care and keeping for a few short days that I stayed with the car and asked my wife to do all the shopping. I ran one full tank through the 570S, and fuel mileage was pretty bad, though not single-digit bad. The ride, while good by supercar standards in its softest setting, is still pretty stiff and punishing on poorly maintained roads.
The cost of one minor mishap with the McLaren — anything from a bump in the parking lot to a wheel scratched on a curb — is going to cost as much as parking a beater in your driveway that you don’t really care about. Save the McLaren for those random blasts up Chuckanut, and take the Mitsubishi to get groceries. Because when one of your cars is a McLaren 570S, who cares if the other one is a Mirage?