First Look: McLaren 570S

First Look: McLaren 570S

Talk about putting a damper on someone’s day. An acquaintance recently forked out just over five big ones for a McLaren 650S.

He ordered it in the insanely hot Mantis Green colour — of which there is only one in the country — and parks it in his garage alongside a couple of other supercars including a modified BMW M4.

How he makes his money — and he obviously has plenty of it — I’m not too sure, and with tattooed biceps the size of tree trunks, I’ve decided it wise not to ask. So when I bumped into him last week I mentioned I had attended the launch the day before of the McLaren 570S coupé. Unaware that the 570S had landed in South Africa, he started pumping me with questions.

We eventually got to the price, which considering what you are getting, is a very reasonable R3.2-million (subject to currency fluctuation). Let’s just say the fact he had paid more than R2-million on top of that for the 650S left him unamused. Some journalists have described the 570S as the ‘‘entry-level’’ model in to the McLaren brand. For me ‘‘entry-level’’ is a term you can use when describing a Tata Indica and I must admit I prefer McLaren’s reference to the vehicle being ‘‘more attainable.’’

What McLaren is doing is bringing exclusivity — along with all its race-driving technology — to a wider segment of car driver who demands the best but whose budget doesn’t quite stretch to that most of us can only dream of.

A segment that is still plenty monied nonetheless, but who might previously have looked at the likes of the Porsche 911, Ferrari, Bentley, Range Rover, Maserati or he Mercedes-Benz S-Class. ‘‘This is an exciting and long awaited development from McLaren,’’ said Justin Divaris, CEO for Daytona, at the car’s unveiling. ‘‘Potential customers have been looking forward to the day they could add a McLaren to their vehicle perusing list as it matches their price range.’’

For Divaris and McLaren general manager Grant Dryden, the introduction of the Sports Series — of which the 570S is the first vehicle — means a new era for this exciting brand.

It will also help in reaching the target of doubling the annual production volume by 2017. Like any McLaren the performance figures of the 570S are jaw-dropping. I hope you are sitting down when you read these. A 0-100km/h sprint time of 3.2 seconds; 0-200km/h in 9.5 seconds; and then to top it off a top speed of 328km/h.

Entry-level? Yeah, right! All this is coming courtesy of a 3.8 litre V8 twin turbo engine that spews out 419kW of raw emotion fed through to a 7-speed SSG transmission.

No Matter from which angle you view the 570S, there is no doubt that the Woking engineers and designers have woven their magic. It’s a classic sports car with mid-engine rear-wheel drive layout and carbon fibre structure. From the front you get that low, aggressive look with the large LED headlamps that flank a sculpted bonnet which channels airflow over the front wheel arches.

The rear features an aluminium mesh which allows for a view into the engine bay while twin smoking gun exhausts sit below the rear bumper either side of a newly designed rear diffuser. Getting in and out of a McLaren is not always the easiest of tasks thanks to its low centre of gravity and traditional dihedral doors, but in line with making it a more everyday supercar, entry is made easier thanks to the extended height of the door and lower lip on the sill.

Once in, the cabin is designed with the driver in mind. The sports seats are leather upholstered — racing seats are optional — the dashboard and steering wheel are also all leather-trimmed and there is extra stowage space in the cabin. This adds to the 150 litres of storage in the front luggage bay. There is a full infotainment system, a seven-inch touch screen with integrated climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and a four-speaker McLaren audio System — A 12-speaker system is available. Also there is a focus on engagement between the car and the driver.

Functionality in the logical layout of the instrumentation panel and visibility also adds to the overall feeling that this would do nicely every day, thank you! The tyres come from technical partner Pirelli with 19-inch P Zero Corsa tyres up front and 20-inch on the rear. Power is brought under control with standard-fit carbon ceramic brakes. I must confess prior to last week I would find it hard to justify spending R2.8-million on a car. Then again, that was before I set eyes on McLaren 570S.

-Bruce Fraser