For all its glory, McLaren is a name unknown to many outside the racing world. The U.K.-based company has been the legacy of Bruce McLaren of Formula One and Can-Am racing fame for more than half a century, but it only started building road cars in 2011. And with starting prices of roughly a quarter million bucks, exactly none of McLaren’s carbon fiber masterpieces could be considered attainable; seeing a P1 in the wild is tantamount to seeing the Queen of England picking daisies in your front yard. Your mom gets a pass for not knowing what they are.
That changes with this, the stunning 2016 McLaren 570S. The lead model of McLaren’s new Sport Series, the low-slung 570S is a close relative to the 650S — itself the core model of McLaren’s newly christened “Super Series” — but will carry a much lower starting price of $175,000 to $185,000. This puts McLaren in the same segment as other almost-attainable fantasy cars like the Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo S for the first time, and is the first car in this class to combine rear-wheel-drive, mid-engine layout, and a carbon-fiber chassis. As such, the 570S tips the scales at as low as 2,895 lbs., 286 pounds lighter than its nearest competitors.
“This is going to be the most attainable and usable McLaren to date,” said Donna Falconer, product manager for the Sport Series. “We recognize that in this segment of the market, customers use their cars in slightly different ways, so we’ve taken that into account in design and specification.”
Wrapped in aluminum bodywork, the Sport Series is clearly evocative of both the 650S and the P1, albeit with slightly more triangular headlamps and its own wind-tunnel-honed splitter. The side air intake may or may not be the stylized head of McLaren’s mascot, the kiwi, while more intakes and flying buttresses are found above the waistline. Wheels measure 19 inches in diameter up front, 20 inches out back, wrapped by Pirelli P-Zero Corsas. Arguably the most extreme part of the car, however, is the rear end, with its black-tinted taillamps, conspicuous absence of a rear bumper and terrifying lower diffuser. Also missing is any form of active aero addenda. And nor is it needed, says McLaren, since the 570S can top 203 mph.
What’s more, the rigid structure also accommodates McLaren’s sexy swing-up door design, making the 570S the cheapest car with swing-up doors on the market in the United States (a deal-clincher, I know.) Compared to the 650S, cabin access is improved thanks to lower, thinner sills and a redesigned “door sweep.” McLaren also promises generous interior storage and best-in-class luggage space.
The beating heart of the 570S is a turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 cranking out 562 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, while a seven-speed sequential gearbox does the shifting. (A 533-hp 540C model will also be introduced, but its prospects are questionable for American buyers.). The V-8 itself is derived from that the 650S with a few hardware and software changes, including an all-new exhaust system. The car is held up by double wishbones front and rear with active dampers, and the 570S will also come standard with carbon ceramic brake discs, pricey extras on many of its competitors. McLaren says that the 570S can vault from naught to 62 mph half a second faster than the Porsche 911 Turbo S, and can serve up 124 mph 0.4 seconds faster than a Lamborghini Huracán. Officially, McLaren puts the 0-62 mph number at 3.2 seconds; 124 mph in 9.5.
Falconer promises an “extremely comprehensive” level of standard equipment, including a gorgeous instrument screen, a seven-inch infotainment display, and extended leather upholstery on the 570S and an available Bowers and Wilkins premium 12-speaker sound system. “We know we’re going to have customers that want race-ready versions of this car, so we have all the options for them to do that."
And given the type of options McLaren will offer, some 570S prices will likely rise up to (or possibly over) a quarter million big ones, especially in the case of the inevitable droptop model, expected in a year or so.
With radical looks, real racing bona fides, and the promise of astounding performance, the Sport Series is going to be a big deal in the sports car world, and is certain to make it on to the bedroom walls of more than a few teenagers. Might be a good time to tell your mom what it is.