THERE IS NO MISTAKING THE MCLAREN 570S’ NEW ZEALAND HERITAGE
You don’t get to understand how Kiwi the McLaren automotive brand is until you take one of the sports cars out of its inner city Auckland showroom and on to our roads.
Revealed at last year’s New York motor show, the McLaren 570S Coupe has just arrived in New Zealand.
The 570S is part of the company’s Sports Series model range from the UK-based company that combines McLaren’s motorsport technology with lightweight construction and creature comforts expected by sports cars owners. And Kiwi fans should get ready, because another model in the Sports Series, the 540S, arrives here mid-year with a price tag of $330,000, making it the most attainable McLaren.
With the 570S, McLaren is aligning itself against the Porsche 911 and wants potential buyers of the Lamborghini Huracan and Mercedes-AMG GT S to add the car to their “must test drive” list.
The 570S comes with the McLaren family 3.8-litre, twin turbo engine that has 30 per cent new components and produces 419kW of power (or 570PS, hence the name) and 600Nm of torque.
The engine is mounted behind the driver to provide that giddy-up experience while the 570S has a top speed of 328 km/h. It is also class-leading when it comes from stop to sprint with the 0-100km/h in 3.2 seconds, and 0-200 km/h in just 9.5 seconds. You can even try this at home — well, a quiet straight, back road — thanks to the car’s launch control function.
Priced from $375,000, my test model was specced up to $410,883, which included heated electric seats ($6912) and carbon fibre interior ($6473).
To create a sports look, the Pirelli tyres are 19in at the front, and 20in at the rear.
New Zealand motorsport legend Bruce McLaren won his first race in West Auckland — the Muriwai hill climb on Waitea Road, aged 15, in an Austin 7 Ulster, so that road is the location for the 570S cover shot.
And there is no mistaking its New Zealand heritage; there are at least 14 “kiwi” emblems in the 570S — from the key ring, to the infotainment screen main button to the front and rear LED lights.
Although its DNA is racing, this sports car is expected to spend more time in supermarket and work carparks than garaged while awaiting the next track day. Those everyday qualities include cupholders, door pockets, a glove box, vanity mirrors and a stunningly stylish front infotainment screen.
(Take note, luxury brands, forget the floating screens, bite the bullet and start incorporating screens in the dash like McLaren or in the cockpit like Audi).
The McLaren 570S takes about five days to build at the company’s Woking production centre and is longer and wider than the 650 coupe, thanks to the length of 4529mm, width of 1915mm and height of 1201mm high plus that notable curb weight of just 1451kg.
That notable weight is due to the carbon fibre tub and while the sculptured appearance not only looks stunning it works extremely well to optimise aerodynamics.
The front bumper separates airflow either under the car or through those stunning side channels then lets the fixed rear wing do the rest of the work.
And those looks are striking, whether is the 570S is sitting in that inner city showroom just begging to driven, or out on the road and then parked up with dihedral (wing) doors open.
From the side, with the wings up mode, plus the side funnelling, the 570S looks like BMW’s i8 electric car — but unlike the German car, the McLaren is easy to enter and exit and won’t restrict your outfits, if you are a woman, to pants-only to preserve some modesty!
The easy access to the 570S, plus the vehicle lift (that hydraulically increases the car ride height by 40mm to help drive over speed bumps), does makes it an everyday drive.
To provide drivers with sports or sedan driving, the 570S has active dynamic panel with an “H” dial to set your handling and suspension and a ‘P dial for performance and powertrain.
Both dials have three settings — N for normal, S for Sport and T for Track — and it’s up to the driver’s preference on how that is set up.
For motorway driving I dialled in normal handling and powertrain, making the seven-speed seamless-shift gearbox (SSG) stay in automatic. This gave a sedan drive, especially on bumpy motorway repairs.
Once off the main drag and on quiet roads, I played with a variety of settings, settling with the newly developed suspension system on Sport and the powertrain dialled up to Track.
Then it was time to have some fun.
As much as McLaren says the 570S is a sports car, try telling that to the coupe. Racing is in its blood (well, oil) and it demands you drive faster and more vigorously.
Plant your foot on the accelerator and the V8 engine kicks in, giving instant response, while the handling gives a reactive drive when cornering at speed. Just what you want.
I’ve never had such a reaction to a sports car — with tourists over-running our photos shoot at Muriwai to take selfies with the car; more tourists and even a pre-schooler wanting photos with the car during a break in the test drive. And then there were the other road users.
An SUV driver tailgated me along the Northern Motorway using his phone to video the car; and countless West Auckland drivers gave me the thumbs up, tooted or did the Westie (making a “W” sign with their fingers).
Though the drive and performance was outstanding, there were a few niggles.
One of my passengers said the steering wheel paddle clicked too loudly when I changed gears (picky, picky), and I found the infotainment system could be sensitive when changing radio stations.
The electric seat proved a little difficult to use and I did want to hear more exhaust noise when changing down gears — there’s nothing more delightful than that snorting, crackling, pop-pop coming from the rear of the car.
A car-mad friend texted me during my test drive to ask if the 570S was my new favourite. I texted back that it probably was, because of the exclusivity this still-rare brand exudes — it’s a vehicle you could drive around Beverly Hills and have the mega-rich and famous turn their heads.
But it also did a great job turning heads around the hills of West Auckland.
|Engine:||3.8-litre, V8, twin turbo engine, 419kW/600Nm|
|Cons:||Tetchy electric seats, more engine noise please.|