Words: Peter Howarth
‘With the 570S, McLaren’s tried to go for the typical British sports car, which is not necessarily the one that’s the fastest in a straight line or that has the most down-force or grip. It usually has lots of personality: it dances around and is engaging and driver-focused.’ So says driver Euan Hankey, who’s just scared me more than a little on a test track, where I was his passenger in the new launch.
This striking motor starts at a mere £143,250, and the company is assiduously particular about its nomenclature. It is part of its new Sports Series, which has, frankly, been developed to give the British engineering firm an entry-level model that can compete with top-end Audis, Aston Martins and Ferraris. This is important, given that McLaren is probably best known for its F1 activity and the supercar its racing heritage spawned: the P1, an astonishing performance vehicle that has a price tag of £866,000, but which, with a few bits of customisation, can easily come in at around £1m.
The new 570S has been conceived as a different proposition: a road car that a driver could run out every day – to work, to the shops – at 30mph. It’s engineered to be a lot of fun at modest speeds. That is why McLaren insists this is a sports car, not a supercar, despite its all-aluminium 3.8-litre V8 engine with twin-turbocharged technology, its top speed of 204mph and the fact it will do 0-60 in 3.1 seconds. It is indeed a lovely 21st-century incarnation of a British sports car, and it puts a smile on your face. Even at 30mph.