With the release in North America recently of the ‘entry-level’ McLaren 540C exotic sports car, the 2016 570S Coupe tested here likely becomes the most exciting mid-level engine trim in automotive history.
In fact, its 562 SAE horsepower thundering to the rear wheels of the 570S represents the third most powerful version of McLaren’s mid-engine 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 – fourth down of five engine variants if you count the Asia-only 625C. From the 540C to the top-line 675LT, all feature jaw-dropping but closely related styling, along with similar though not quite identical carbon fibre chassis construction, suspension design, dramatic upward and out swinging doors, and adrenaline-pumping performance that ranges from sizzling hot to extra sizzling hot.
The exotic British carmaker’s products are all meant to rival top-line models from the most lust-worthy Italian and German performance cars. Specifically, the 570S targets the Porsche 911 Turbo S and Audi R8 price-wise, the 570S starting at $219,750 in Canada, but with a striking design and performance closer to the pricier ($300+-ish) Ferrari 488 GTB and Lamborghini Huracán coupes.
This particular 570S tester topped out at an as tested $254,112, after a host of packages and carbon fibre options (outside mirror caps, side intakes, door sills, interior accents), plus ‘Elite’ retina-searing orange paint ($4,530), a pricy Sports exhaust ($4,210) and vehicle lift kit ($1,630), which helpfully raises the body a few inches to help avoid the soul-searing sound of your McLaren’s underbody scraping the ground.
Compared to its direct rivals noted above, the McLaren picks up the flash crown with its up and forward-swinging dihedral doors that dramatically announce the driver’s arrival. Having driven all these cars save the less powerful Audi R8, as well as its 641 hp big brother in the 650S, the McLaren 570S is certainly on the extreme performance and less on the luxury side of that continuum, with a sharp engine rip upon startup, and a firmly planted suspension with adaptive dampers that in either Normal, Sport or Track modes provide varying degrees of a rock hard ride that’ll leave you slaloming around potholes and road maintenance covers.
Part of this tendency is to marvel at its quick steering responses, but likely due to the more conventional suspension setup that comes with the 570S compared to the 650S model’s special ProActive Chassis Control (PCC), where the dampers are hydraulically linked to a gas-filled ‘accumulator’ that stiffens damping when sensors detect upcoming cornering forces, relaxing the damping in a straight-line, and therefore negating the need for ride-busting anti-roll bars, even if the ‘stiffness’ of those bars can be adjusted.
This suspension is likely the largest dynamic difference between the 570S and its 650S older brother, since acceleration from rest to 100 km/h (3.2 versus 3.0 seconds, respectively) and top speed (328 km/h and 333 km/h) barely register, at least when pushing to their respective max capabilities. The 570S also doesn’t receive the automatically raising rear airfoil/spoiler, which allows it and the 540C to offer a distinct rear look as well, with more curved taillights to the 650 and above’s straked design that more closely follows McLaren’s original MP4 12C’s hindquarters.
Plus, the 570S’s fixed rear spoiler also doesn’t give away extra enthusiastic speeds or braking, while the slightly less bulky Monocell II entry sill makes climbing in and out of it a tad easier, if still worth practicing for smoothness.
All in all, the McLaren 570S is still a glorious exotic sports car that still requires track sessions to truly work out that twin-turbo V8 and the seven-speed paddles, which can be left in a slightly jerky automatic mode, until it convices you that manual control is still the smoothest and most fun, even with no clutch pedal. Yes, it has been tweaked for greater day-to-day useability, but it's difficult to mask that this is a true beast that wants to run and stretch its legs, in curves and on straights, on road and during lapping days.
SPECIFICATIONS – 2016 McLaren 570S
BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $219,750 / $254,112
ENGINE: 3.8L twin-turbo V8
HORSEPOWER: 562 hp @ 7,500 rpm
TORQUE: 443 lb-ft. @ 5,000-6,500 rpm
DRY WEIGHT: 1,344 kg
CONFIGURATION: mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 36 / unlimited
ALTERNATIVES: Audi R8, Ferrari 488 GTB, Lamborghini Huracan, Porsche 911 Turbo S
Photography by Michael Bettencourt