Playing For Keeps: McLaren 570S Spider
McLaren Automotive came out with all guns blazing in 2011, with plans to knock Ferrari and Lamborghini off their supercar pedestals. Next up, McLaren takes aim at mainstream car brands at Porsche and AMG with their volume- chasing 570S Spider.
For those in the sports car game (like Porsche, Aston Martin and AMG) who watched newcomer McLaren take on the supercar heavyweights in 2011, the thought of a competitor marching into their more mainstream territory was a frightening prospect.
And sure enough, while the 12C, 650S and P1 were pushing and shoving the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini, news of a more mainstream 570S to take on the Porsche 911 Turbo, AMG GT S and Audi R8 V10 gave the establishment something to worry about.
A Formula One business has the ability to adapt at lightning pace to market needs. After establishing its road car operations at the top end against the supercar brands, the 570S model allows McLaren to take on the volume sports car brands at their own game.
Longer and Taller
The 570S Spider borrows the roof-folding mechanism from the super series lineup. This two-piece aluminium roof folds into a neat compartment located behind the seats of the car, leaving the rear buttress in place. This clever roof-folding mechanism will take you from top to topless in just 30 seconds! Unlike the 12C Spider and the 650S Spider, the 570S Spider required no significant re-engineering for the roof-folding mechanism because of the carbon monocell used in the 570S. As a result, the 570S Spider is only 46 kg (101 lb) heavier than the coupe.
Using a 562 bhp version of the 3.8-Litre, twin-turbo V-8 from the rest of the range, the entry level McLaren does away with the expensive stuff used on its bigger siblings like composite bodywork, instead using an aluminium shell; the clever hydraulic suspension makes way for conventional anti-roll bars, and the active aero is also missing.
What stays is the dual-clutch, seven-speed box attached to that gorgeous engine driving through the rear wheels, a carbon fibre tub and of course McLaren’s trademark dihedral-opening doors which are now easier to use thanks to sills that sit 80 mm lower and cut farther into the door opening.
The engine has been retuned to deliver a sharper throttle response, with 30 per cent new components, but it keeps its flat plane crank, which is a big part of the McLaren’s character in terms of power delivery and that distinctive sound.
Despite being the baby in the range, it’s actually longer and marginally taller than the 650S, as well as being similar in width, so the slightly more spacious feeling inside is not an illusion. It is helped by the new floating centre console, which does away with that cocooned race car feeling.
It also makes the cup holders useable — not that I tried — but there are some who would find that a benefit, even in a two-seater sports car. Plus, there’s a small parcel shelf behind the seats for a jacket or two.
As you’d except with an engine of this pedigree, the 570S Spider is still a scorcher, and in our unofficial tests, it was not far off the benchmark figures we achieved in the 675LT. There is some turbo lag below 3000 RPM, but let it wind out to its 8000 RPM redline and it’s an absolute joy to pedal quickly.
Getting from zero to 100 km/h takes 3.2 seconds, and it has a quoted top speed of 328 km/h.
The twin-turbo V-8 feels both relatively unstressed, yet more highly developed than when we sampled it before, though despite its distinctive sound, it could be a bit more furious to our ears. Despite this being the grown-up, mature member of the family, it’s still a McLaren, and so it needs to tell the neighbours, if you get what I mean.
Independent tests over the standing 400 metres have shown it to match the Ferrari F12 and be quicker than the AMG GT S and Porsche 911 Turbo S at 11 seconds compared to 11.7 for the Mercedes and 11.4 for the Porsche.
The standard carbon-ceramic brakes are powerful enough to easily haul in every bit of sudden velocity you might inadvertently accrue either on the road or on the track.
Engine: 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V-8
power: 562 BHP at 7,500 RPM
Torque: 600 NM at 5,000 RPM
0-100 KM/H: 3.2 seconds
Top speed: 328 KM/H
Weight: 1,452 KG
Despite using the conventional suspension, its handling is outstanding and the grip level was eye-wateringly good, offering a flat ride even in Normal mode. Rotating the Adaptive Dynamic panel dial around to Sport and Race modes stiffened things up markedly to the point of being uncomfortable on some poorer-quality roads. These top two modes are best left for track days.
Aided by the easier access of the doors, you could drive the 570S Spider every day without too much trouble, though it’s not as good in that regard as the staple Porsche 911, but the trade-off is that when you find a nice piece of road, you’ll be having an equally good, if not better time than in the 911. The 570S Spider is a fantastic driver’s car.
The steering and brakes are go-kart-like perfect in their precision and sureness while the chassis is as delightfully set up as a Swiss watch. It’s so accurate and its power delivery so crisp and strong that you get swept along in the whole experience, and before you know it, you’re approaching a corner at near warp speed. That’s when you’re thankful for those nice big brakes and, if it’s a roundabout, the chassis stiffness as well.
Overall, the McLaren 570S Spider is a welcome addition to the sports car market as an alternative to the Audi R8 V10 and even the king of the segment, the Porsche 911 Turbo S. And knowing how McLaren reacts as a Formula One team, if there are any shortcomings, you can bet that they will address them in double-quick time, just like they did the updates to the 12C to transform it into the 650S.