If one word could be used to sum up the year for us at TheMotorist, that word would be fantastic . As the newest and youngest members in an industry filled with people who have decades of experience, we had to learn how to swim in deep waters. Thank goodness none of us drowned. In order to celebrate this, we decided to end the year off with something special. A vehicle which none of us have driven before would do the trick, preferably something special. After poking our noses around with some manufacturers, we found exactly what we were looking for.
Our answer can in the form of a McLaren, one that makes up part of their newly formed Sport Series. By now you would’ve read, seen or heard about the McLaren 570S. We kept up with all the buzz around this car, but none of us had the pleasure of driving it yet. How better then to sample such a car at the Zwartkops racetrack, which we had at our disposal for an entire day. It must be said that the days leading up to this test gave us feelings of excitement but equal amount of nerves too. These feeling got worse day by day. As a new publication, the 570S would be the first supercar to be tested by the entire team. Yes, we’ve driven the likes of the Mercedes-AMG GTS, but this is a step up. With everything planned, all we needed to do was fetch the car at the Daytona showrooms on a windy Sunday morning. When that day eventually arrived, anticipation grew as we heard the 3.8 litre V8 bounce sound waves against city buildings in Melrose Arch shopping centre.
If you’ve only seen images or videos of this car, we can confirm that it doesn’t do justice to what this vehicle really looks like in the flesh. It resembles a mini McLarnen P1 with its sharp edges, wide body and typical McLaren teardrop headlights. This is complemented with many carbon fibre bits and pieces. It’s an exquisite looking thing. Following the car on our way to the track was mesmerising but challenging considering that I was behind the wheel of the new Renault Megane GT. I had 151kW at my disposal but next to the 570S, I may as well have been peddling a bicycle. Richard had a better chance of keeping up in the BMW M3 he was driving, but even then our cars were overshadowed by this machine. A few kilometres into our journey to Zwarkops, the evitable happened. Francisco was pulled over by the “fuzz”. He claims to keeping to the speed limit, something I highly doubt. In the end, the police just wanted to look at the car and they suggested he pay a R500 fine because it “sounded” like he was travelling very fast. Unfortunately sounding fast doesn’t cut it, so he politely declined the suggestion and we were on our way.
What makes it tick?
As previously mentioned, the 570S features a 3.8 Litre V8 twin turbocharged engine, producing 419Kw (650bhp) and 600Nm of torque. It’s slightly longer and wider than the than the 650S, which makes it more “everyday friendly”. That being said it only weighs approximately 1300kg, due to its carbon fibre tub. Sitting inside the McLaren is a cosy experience, but quite snug . From the driver’s perspective, you feel very much a part of the car. Packing a lot of power and very little weight means the 0-100 km/h time of the car is 3.2 seconds. 0 – 200km/h is taken care of in 9.5 seconds, for us that was the more scarier figure. All this performance doesn’t come cheap because depending on what’s happening with the Rand, you’re in for around the R3.5 million mark if you would like to be the proud owner of one.
Francisco summed up his experience of the car in this way…“ If you were to personify a traditional supercar, you could easily picture a slick playboy with an ego bigger than his bank balance. The McLaren 570s on the other hand doesn’t quite seem to fit that disposition. Instead, the whole brand for me is like Apple. I could see a young tech innovator hopping into a McLaren in a white T-shirt and sneakers. It’s just such a smart and nerdy car, that’s the impression I get. Perhaps because it’s the newest player in the major leagues, it kind of reminds me of the recent emergence of many young tech millionaires.”
On the Track
After shooting the pretty stuff for our video, we each had a chance to take the vehicle out on the racetrack. What was meant to be a short stint, ended up being over an hour and many litres of fuel. At first, the 570s came across as quite a scary vehicle to drive because of its sheer acceleration and twitchy backend. I received quite the wakeup call in the beginning as I didn’t expect it to be as fast as it was. After first accelerating, my thoughts were something along the lines of “I really don’t want to push this car, it’s going to kill me”. Understanding how the 570s reacts after a few laps put me more at ease though. I soon felt comfortable enough to push it around this tight circuit. A few things that stood out to me, the first was how good the front end of this vehicle is. You can enter a corner at a tremendous speed and it just allows you to carry on. Other cars under-steer, but the 570s just grips. The brutal acceleration on this car is also a force to be reckoned with, one feeling I will never forget is the brute force of the final revs when in 3rd gear. Coming out of a corner in second gear, a harsh and fast change up into third and the car screams up to its 8500rpm limit in an awe inspiring way.
Francisco had this to say about his track experience. “ You literally have a razor blade for a vehicle. Pick a cornering line and its yours, pick a braking point and it stops and then for the brave, turn off the traction control and you can slide the hell out of it. The whole experience of the car is quite special. It feels alive, it feels focused and yet it’s not tiresome like other sports cars that offer the same level of performance”
Not just a pretty face.
The 570s is very technical and electronic, and I know for Richard as much as he enjoyed the car, it didn’t make him giggle. He mentioned that after getting used to the vehicle, no longer felt like it was going to kill him, it is a very fast and very predicable vehicle. This may sound negative but it’s really a compliment because the average man can’t trust the car to bring him home safely after a track day. Personally I enjoyed every minute in the car. The way it made me feel and how I could brake later and later and clip all the apexes, gave me a very big grin.
Overall then, the McLaren 570s is a vehicle which got the unanimous nod from all of us, it is a fantastic performance vehicle. The argument between us was if we would choose it over the likes of a Porsche Turbo S? This is where Richards opinion different from Francisco’s and myself. He would not take the 570s home purely for the reasons he mentioned earlier. For him, he finds much more enjoyment in a vehicle that isn’t so predicable, one that will try and kill him coming out of the apex from time to time (strange we know) . The McLaren 570s will do that, but you really have to try hard to get it bent completely out of shape.
Francisco on the other hand said that if you are looking for something special ,that can still be used every day, the McLaren is the way to go. His exact words were “The McLaren 570s has that special appeal that a supercar is supposed to have. As much as they may say it’s a sports car, everything about begs to differ. It’s only when you use it on the road, that’s when you see it’s sports car attributes. If you asked me to choose for you, I’d offer the following advice; if you’re an introvert and would like to blend in, buy another car. If however you like a bit of attention and still want something usable on the road, give McLaren a call.
For me, The 570s is definitely a car I would take home. I understand where Richard is coming from as this car is a serious piece of kit and you may feel like it doesn’t like to play. As much as I like something that’s completely wild, I also love a vehicle that can perform extremely well on the track. Its not just the performance that gets me, the way the McLaren feels when inside makes me feel like a little boy. The interior styling, extremely low driving position and PlayStation-like controls really make it stand out for me. The McLaren 570s is called a sports car, but it is so much more than that. The ride is firm but livable and even out of Track Mode, it doesn’t feel much different to when it is in Normal Mode. There is something about a car with technology derived from F1 and packaged as a daily drive. I buy this car if I had the means, and compared to the prices you pay for other McLaren products, you can convince yourself that it’s good value for money. Now I just need to find R3.5 million. Any donations will be accepted.
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