As an 11-year old kid in 1971, thanks to an accident of birth, I was allowed to scramble freely around the tracks and through the paddocks at Watkins Glen, Road America, Mid Ohio and Donnybrooke on race weekends. It was on one of those those Saturdays long ago that I first heard and saw it, the McLaren M8F, a bright orange wedge of a roadster with its massive 8-liter Chevy engine howling as it trounced all comers in the Can-Am races. In the hands of Denny Hulme and Peter Revson, McLaren dominated the series that year winning eight out of ten races.
Maybe that’s why I was so attracted to the McLaren Orange 570S that sat upon the stage at the New York Auto Show last week even though it was flanked by a P1 GTR, P1, 675LT and a stunning volcano red 650S Spyder. Or maybe it’s just that I’m a sucker for a beautifully penned, exotic coupe that can be had for less than $200,000 which the 570S and soon to be released 540C make possible.
McLaren have a three-tiered product strategy. The P1 is the Ultimate McLaren and the twenty to thirty that they make will sell for $1,150,000 and up. Their Super line includes the 675LT and 650 Coupe and Spyder which start at $267,900 and go up from there. The 570S and 540C make up their Sport line and will be priced at $184,900 and $165,000 respectively. Wayne Bruce, McLaren’s Global Communications Manager told me they expect the two Sport cars to make up the bulk of their volume and plan on producing 2,500 between them.
This was the first time McLaren had all three cars on display in one place and to say it was impressive is an understatement. But the news of the day was the 570S.
Making its world-premiere in New York, the McLaren 570S 100% McLaren. It’s 3.8 Liter twin-turbo V8 makes 562 horsepower and since it’s bolted into a carbon-fiber chassis that weighs just under 2,900 pounds, it boasts the highest horsepower to weight ratio of any car in its class. Yet with all this power, the 570S is designed to be, in Mr. Bruce’s words, “the practical McLaren.”
Evidence for this claim is obvious in the new MonoCell design which features a lower, narrower sill than the 650, so getting in and out is much easier for both the driver and passenger. The car’s ride also offers a balance between track and street driving with adaptive dampers in the dual-wishbone independent suspension system. With “Normal”, “Sport” and “Track” settings, the 570 can quickly go from a comfortable open road tourer to a full-out track star in milliseconds.
The 570S is fitted with sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires and has sizeable carbon-ceramic disc brakes: 15.5-inch up front and 15-inch in the rear. Also on board is a newly optimized traction control system that includes a Dynamic mode which operates between full off and on. Set in this mode, you can drift to your heart’s content with the confidence of knowing the computer will kick in if you overcook things a little bit.
As you would expect with a sports car of this pedigree, the wheels are driven by a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. With “Normal,” “Sport” and “Track” modes, the shift points are optimized depending on your environment and according to McLaren the settings have been recalibrated to produce faster shifts overall.
Inside, the cabin in the 570C is longer and wider than the 650 creating a greater sense of space and comfort. The windscreen is wider and the B-pillars are narrower, improving visibility. The interior features a wide array of customization options, allowing you to create a car that’s pure sports focused or more luxurious with Nappa leather and Alcantara surfaces available.
If you’re looking for a sports car with a near perfect balance of performance, luxury, exclusivity and pedigree, it would be hard to beat the McLaren 570S at any price. Coming in under $200,000, it feels like a bargain.