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Tracktest McLaren 570S: The fastest B&W speakers on earth

McLaren 570S – LESS IS MORE

Our reviewer Dr. Ian Kuah says: „A cheaper McLaren does not mean less McLaren!“

Sports Series, Super Series and Ultimate Series. These are the three flavours of the full McLaren model range as envisaged from the start. The P1 was the first expression of the Ultimate Series, and McLaren’s flag bearer, but there will not be another car in this Series for a few years.

Now that the core of the McLaren business case has been well established with the MP4-12C, its 650S successor, and the mighty 675LT, it is time to go after volume with the Sports Series. This is a less uncompromising, less expensive, but still hand-built range of cars designed to go hunting in Aston Martin DB9, Audi R8 and Porsche Turbo territory.

Frankly, if a non-enthusiast saw a McLaren 570S drive past they would not believe it was an entry-level model. After all, with its new taillights, it has even more P1-inspired styling cues than the more expensive 650S.

However, the 540C and 570S are the new bread and butter McLaren models, and the cars that the Woking-based firm hopes will take sales up to their self-imposed cap of 4,000 units a year.

The fact that McLaren have already taken 1,000 orders for their new baby even before customers have had the chance to sit in a car or drive one speaks volumes for the gravitas the brand has built up in a relatively short time.

McLaren 570S
McLaren 570S: Nautilus technology is used for the tweeters (Foto: Dr. Ian Kuah)

The McLaren 570S is launched in November as a Coupe, and McLaren told us officially that the Spider version will be along in 2017. Judging by the much greater take-up rate of the 650S Spider over the Coupe, the same sales mix will likely follow with the al fresco version of the 570S as well.

While the true entry-level car is the 540C, which will retail for £128,000 in the UK, McLaren chose to launch their new range with the 570S (£143,000 in the UK), whose design tenets, like all this motorsport-based company’s cars, revolve around advanced chassis, aerodynamics, high-tech materials, outstanding engine performance and low weight.

Low weight was consistently chased here, and at 1,344kg (dry weight) the 570S is around 150kg lighter than any class rival. On that score, the advent of LED headlamp technology has been a boon. Each of these bespoke units weighs just 2.7kg, but is more powerful and consumes less power than the xenon equivalents that went before.

The engine powering the 570S is yet another variation of the twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre flat-plane crank V8 in every McLaren model, and in this less powerful application, the engine’s internal code is M838TE.

Output is a healthy 570hp (562bhp) at 7,500rpm, with 600 Nm of torque from 5,000 to 6,500rpm. This is the first version of the McLaren V8 to feature start-stop technology, which helps it achieve an average fuel consumption of 10.7L/100km, along with 249g/km of CO2 emissions.

Against the stopwatch, this Sports Series car has major league supercar performance with a 0-100km/h time of 3.2 sec, 0-200km/h in 9.5 sec, and a top speed of 328km/h (204mph).

McLaren 570S
The fully McLaren 570S leather trimmed interior is inviting (Foto: Dr. Ian Kuah)

Helping the cause is the smooth and rapid 7-speed SSG twin-clutch gearbox, whose steering wheel mounted paddle shifter action has now been honed to a very high level of tactile precision.

It comes as no surprise that the absence of the active suspension elements featured in more expensive McLaren models removes the thin layer of feedback opacity that is a hallmark of all state-of-the-art suspension systems using such technology.

Because of this, the McLaren 570S talks to you through the seat of your pants in a way that it’s more powerful, more tech-laden big brothers do not. It has a directness and clarity in what it is doing, even in what it is about to do, that I found quite refreshing.

There is a bit more body roll, but the important thing is the subtle progression with which it adopts its cornering set. Although it is a well-sharpened tool, there is nothing sudden about the way the chassis reacts to inputs, and it feels perfectly measured in the best traditional sense of the term. And when you do find the limit, the linear characteristic velocity means it lets go progressively as well.

Like other McLaren models, the 570S also has variable ratio electro-hydraulic assistance, but the steering rack and front-end geometry are unique to this car. With 2.5 turns lock-to-lock it feels crisp and nicely weighted.

The transparency of the 570S chassis really came into its own when driving in the semi-slippery conditions imposed on us by a rain shower during track testing at Portimão Circuit.

McLaren 570S
The McLaren 570S can be used as an everyday car (Foto: Dr. Ian Kuah)

The front end proved very lucid through the helm on the way into the 180-degree left-hand hairpins, a slow entry speed in second gear rewarded with a full report on just how much mechanical grip was available at the tyre contact patches.

I could feel the steering go slightly light when treading the fine line between grip and slip, the back end continuing to track faithfully. This high level of seat-of-the-pants communication from the steering and chassis lets you know exactly when and by how much you can ease into the throttle as steering lock comes off on the way out of a turn.

In the faster turns on the rapidly drying circuit, I was surprised at just how much mechanical grip the Pirelli Corsa tyres could generate. With no standing water and a near consistently damp surface, I was pulling an indicated 145km/h on the exit from the right-hander leading on to the main straight.

McLaren 570S: Fast on track

In bone-dry conditions it would likely have been 165km/h or more, but this shows how far today’s track day rubber has come in terms of wet grip, even without the positive downforce of the 650S.

McLaren has done a lot of work on the throttle response of their twin-turbo V8, and it allows you to meter in precisely the amount of power required.

Thus, it is not difficult for a sensitive driver who knows not to be greedy with the throttle to ride the torque curve in a higher gear in such conditions to ‘float’ the car round a damp or wet track right on the limit of grip with no drama.

McLaren 570S
McLaren 570S: Twin-turbo V8 gives the car a 328km/h top speed (Foto: Dr. Ian Kuah)

McLaren told us that their new carbon-fibre tub is heavier but no less rigid than that of its bigger brothers, so despite having a lower sill to ease ingress and egress in its role as a daily driver, the Mc Laren 570S tub provides a solid platform for the suspension to work optimally.

The simplified suspension arrangement still uses double wishbones all round, but in place of the active damping and anti-roll bars are conventional hydraulic dampers and hollow tubular steel anti-roll bars.

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