First Drive

2015 McLaren 570S review

McLarenโ€™s range has been getting better and better. How will its new entry-level model, the 570S, fare against its established competition?

Words ByWhat Car? Staff

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McLaren is a relatively new company โ€“ it only released its first model in 2011. Yet since then theyโ€™ve been coming thick and fast; partly as a natural roll-out of a more comprehensive range, and partly as McLaren quickly tweaks its existing models to add competitiveness.

The 570S is one of the former. Itโ€™s a new model range that brings a third distinct model series to McLarenโ€™s line-up. There is the existing Super Sports series, in which the 650S sits, and there is the Ultimate Series, which incorporates the limited-run P1.

The 570S and a 540C which will follow it are what McLaren calls its Sports Series. It uses the word sports car rather than supercar for the 570S, despite the fact that this is a car that costs from more than ยฃ140,000, can reach 60mph from rest in only 3.1sec and has a 204mph top speed.

The 570 part of the name refers to its power output in metric horsepower: 570, which is 562bhp. That power output and price put it up against some very serious competition, whose makers would use the word supercar โ€“ Audiโ€™s mid-engined R8, and the Porsche 911 Turbo. McLaren says that the 570S has a large degree of everyday usability, so you could include the softer, more approachable Aston Martin DB9 and Ferrari California in the mix, too.

The 570S comes with one engine and transmission option: itโ€™s a mid-mounted, 3.8-litre V8 with two turbochargers, driving the rear wheels through a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox.

Whatโ€™s the 2015 McLaren 570S like to drive?

Quite superb. The lovely thing about it is that itโ€™s engaging at any speed โ€“ you donโ€™t have to be driving it like your trousers are on fire โ€“ which is just as well, given its performance. Itโ€™ll take a track, where lots of owners will use their 570Ss, to really explore its limits.

However, on the road it is an entertaining car to drive, with keen, accurate steering and a ride quality that, at anything above town speeds where itโ€™s a little knobbly, has to be felt to be believed. The 570Sโ€™s bigger sister, the 650S, has some hydraulic roll control in its suspension. This cheaper 570S does without that and has regular anti-roll bars, but despite this it has a plushness to its ride that will be the envy of most family saloons.

The shock absorbers are adjustable, though, so itโ€™s possible to make them firmer for keener driving on smooth roads or tracks. Twist the adjuster dials through from โ€˜Normalโ€™ to โ€˜Sportโ€™ or โ€˜Trackโ€™, then, and the 570S becomes instantly more firm and better controlled.

In any mode, though, itโ€™s great fun to drive. The handling has a nice balance and that the 570S weighs only 1313kg (though this is dry, so the kerb weight will be higher) means that itโ€™s extremely agile for a car with a 3.8-litre engine.

In the past, weโ€™ve found McLarenโ€™s engines lack the aural drama of, say, a Ferrari V8. McLaren has been working hard on that and while thereโ€™s still a little more to do, the 570Sโ€™s engine makes an appealing sound. Thereโ€™s a little lag from the turbos but once spooling the 570S is incredibly quick. On a circuit, in extremes of cornering the 570S is brilliant; much friendlier than youโ€™d credit a car with this much power and with its engine in its middle, which can sometimes make cars tricky to handle.

Whatโ€™s the 2015 McLaren 570S like inside?

Much better than any McLaren before it, is the simple answer. McLaren asked us to bear in mind that the 570Ss we drove were pre-production cars, but there was no need to be kind: the stitching for the leather and the choice of materials is first rate.

When it comes to the everyday useability McLaren mentioned, itโ€™s in the interior where most of that effort has gone. There are vanity mirrors in the sun visors for the first time on a McLaren, for example, thereโ€™s a glovebox, a shelf behind the seats to stow items cupholders, and there are decent door pockets with hinged covers โ€“ and itโ€™s worth remembering to close them, because if you donโ€™t and open the dihedral-opening doors, all your things fall out.

Those doors, though, open wider than in the McLaren 650S, and the door sill โ€“ the 570S has a new generation of carbonfibre tub โ€“ is 80mm lower, so itโ€™s easier to get in and out.

The driving position is superb. Youโ€™re seated low and dead straight, with the brake pedal, which requires a firm push, dead in front of you. The steering wheel adjusts hugely and behind that thereโ€™s an all-digital instrument panel, which is exceptionally clear.

In the centre is a new-generation of McLarenโ€™s infotainment system, called Iris. Like BMWโ€™s iDrive this, when it was launched, had one major button. Now, a number of shortcut buttons have been added and while itโ€™s still not as intuitive as Audiโ€™s MMI system, it has the measure of anything fitted to an Aston Martin or Ferrari.

If youโ€™re looking for a boot, youโ€™ll find it at the front and it has a 144- litre capacity, considerably more than a Porsche 911โ€™s 115 litres (although that has rear seats, too) and an Audi R8โ€™s 104-litre front bin.

Video: McLaren 570S Review - Our First Impressions Of McLaren's New Sports Car

Should I buy one?

McLarenโ€™s earlier cars were very good fun but you got the feeling that, as a young company, it was learning on the job โ€“ hence the hasty revisions to its supercar, the MP4-12C, when it was first launched.

Thereโ€™s none of that feeling with the 570S. It feels terrific straight out of the box and McLaren engineers and managers sit back contentedly when they talk about it โ€“ this, and the recent limited-edition 675 LT are the two products they think best embody the spirit and ambition of McLaren.

In its everyday useability itโ€™s every bit as welcoming and easy to live with as the other sports cars and supercars it sits alongside. Its engine perhaps lacks the last bit of thrill compared with an Astonโ€™s V12 or the R8โ€™s V10, but in the way they drive, the 570S is the pick of the lot.

What Car? says...

The rivals

Audi R8

Porsche 911 Turbo

McLaren 570S

Engine size 3.8-litre petrol

Price from ยฃ143,250

Power 563bhp

Torque 443lb ft

0-62mph 3.1 seconds

Top speed 204mph

Fuel economy 26.6mpg

CO2 249g/km