Test Drive: McLaren 570S Spider Is Wild, Wanton And Extremely Fast
The 570S is capable of going from 0 to 100km an hour in just 3.2 seconds.
The wild, wanton McLaren 570S Spider is so close to being the perfect super car that it hurts. It also physically hurts, in a good way – like day-after-workout soreness – when you drive it enthusiastically, because it is capable of applying serious g-forces to your body.
We were lucky enough to drive the very first car to lob in Australia, picking it up with just 10km on the clock and, amazingly, so sure are the McLaren people of their engineering genius (a skill set honed over many years in the furnace of Formula One) that we were allowed to go out and belt it straight away.
Although it felt more like it was belting us, as its absurdly powerful 419kW V8 repeatedly threw us at the scenery. It’s the kind of shove you feel right in the base of your spine, and then all across your torso as you throw it into a corner.
The Spider’s 3.8-litre engine is mid-mounted, to provide the perfect balance, and when you combine that with its incredibly stiff chassis, and perfectly weighted, muscular steering, you’ve got a machine that elicits whoops of joy you simply can’t silence.
The brakes, proper race-spec whoppers, are also worthy of mention, and praise, because they provide the kind of stopping power that makes your eyeballs suddenly feel too big for their sockets. They are so confidence inspiring that you find yourself diving deeper and deeper into corners, at higher and higher speeds, before you apply them, which really piles on the Gs, and then you call on the twin-turbocharged V8’s enormous 600Nm of torque to punch you away, and into your seat again, towards the next bend.
The 570S is capable of a 0 to 100km/h time of just 3.2 seconds, but it’s the way it accelerates from 80km/h, or 180km/h frankly, that really makes you gape. As does a top speed of 328km/h.
It takes a while to build up your confidence, of course, because everything is happening so fast, but unlike some other super cars made by Italians it really is easy to drive once you get used to it, and it flatters you by making the incredible seem easy.
Put the roof down on a sunny day, which takes just 15 seconds and, handily, can be done at speeds of up to 40km/h, and you really are in a whole world of joy.
It is, however, with the roof down that you really notice this car’s one major failing. The Spider is perhaps the most usable super car ever, because it actually rides quite smoothly around town, compared to its far-stiffer competitors, like Ferrari’s 488 or the Lamborghini Huracan, and you could argue that the fact that its engine is also pleasantly quiet just adds to that everyday usability.
But this is a super car we’re talking about, and that means it should be loud, and not just in the design sense. McLaren has almost pulled off the kind of visually arresting histrionics people expect at this end of the market, and its butterfly-meets-Transformer doors are a nice touch, but it has fallen down badly in the exhaust department.
At commuting speeds your are never aware that there’s a V8 back there, and it can sound about as exciting as a tractor parked two blocks away at times. Our test car had a sports exhaust fitted, apparently, but it seemed to be asleep until the engine reached 5000rpm. From that point on you do get some nice barking and whoofing, and if you really put the boot in it can sound properly angry.
Overall, though, it’s just not in the same operatic ballpark as anything from Italy, or even its fellow Brits at Aston Martin. Super cars are supposed to be loud and proud, and this Spider just isn’t shouty enough.
Thankfully, it’s so damn close to perfect in every other way that you’re almost willing to forgive it.
Perhaps best of all, it’s relatively affordable at $435,750 – relative to a Ferrari 488, at least, which is $34,000 more, or the Rolls Royce Phantom, at near $1 million. The Ferrari does, however, sound like a nuclear explosion inside a volcano.
Published 28 November, 2017