You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby – The McLaren 570S Spider

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The McLaren 570S may *only* be the brand’s entry-level sports car, but with a 0-62mph of 3.2 seconds, this baby of the bunch has a hell of a lot to offer and a few days ago I went down to the historic Goodwood Motor Circuit to try out the Spider both on track and on the road.

First off, the 570S is a very pretty little thing. When the MP4-12C first came out you could tell it was designed for speed and aerodynamics but it lacked soul and any kind of human emotion in the styling, the back end looked like the back of a printer. Over the years though, McLaren have got the hang of it and managed to create some beautiful masterpieces without compromise. The 650S was a huge improvement and the P1 is just stunning and the 570S is certainly up there with one of the best-looking sports cars out today. Whether you’re looking at the Coupe, the GT or the Spider, they all have that same beautiful Cheshire Cat smile with dimpled cheeks and LED eyebrows.

My first drive of the day was in a stunning Curacao Blue Spider around the Motor Circuit. This example had the optional race seats which were a tad snug to say the least – fine if you’re built like my instructor (who happened to be the very talented and incredibly helpful McLaren GT4 driver, Paul Rees), but not so good if you enjoy the occasional pie… Still, they definitely helped around the track as they held you in place so well. On the track, the car handles like it’s on rails. Big 6-piston carbon ceramic brakes come as standard on the 570 and they really come into their own in the tighter parts of the circuit. One thing I really like about the 570S though is probably its biggest drawback, and that is the responsiveness of the throttle, or more the lack of. You really have to work the 570 and there is a fair bit of turbo lag, however, for me, it just makes it more rewarding to drive when that boost kicks in and you surge forwards. the gearbox is fantastic, it’s not as quick as a 488, but it’s still pretty damn good and the addition of the longer paddles is most welcome.

With the twin-turbo V8 producing 562bhp, the figures are more supercar than sports car.

After a few laps, it was time to go back into the pits and jump into a different car for the road drive, this time finished in Vermillion Red and with the more comfortable and daily user-friendly standard sports seats. As good as the track session was, it didn’t give you much time to have a look around the cabin and appreciate that wonderful McLaren interior, but with the road test I had more time to press all the buttons and fiddle about with the various modes and gadgets. One thing I really like about all McLarens is the simplicity inside. If you sit in a new Ferrari 488 GTB you’ll spend a good hour trying to work out how to indicate but in the McLaren, they really have gone for the “less is more” approach. Everything apart from the seat controls is easily accessible.

The 570 has a carbon tub construction with dihedral doors which means you lower yourself down into the car and you have this wonderful driving position with your legs out straight and your back-end sitting nice and low to the ground letting you feel everything piece of the road. The pedals and wheel are also perfectly positioned and you have this brilliant visibility ahead of you due to the design and shape of the windscreen. The car feels very easy to drive at any speed, something a lot of supercars struggle with. It feels like a car you could drive all the time and not get tired of – a proper everyday sports car. This is emphasised even more when you hit Britain’s public roads, as, let’s face it, they are not in best shape at the moment. It is impossible to drive through any village at the moment and not wince as you hit one of an unprecedented amount of pot-holes that seem to have cropped up overnight. The suspension is just right that when you’re throwing it into corners at speed, it stays beautifully flat and composed, but when the roads are a bit bumpy you don’t feel like you need to visit a chiropractor straight after. The steering is nicely weighted too which helps for dodging the miniature canyons in the road’s surface.

All in all, I am in love with the 570S Spider, at around £140,000 it’s very reasonably priced, especially when you consider it’s competing in the market for cars over £50k more! For McLaren to be so new to the mass-market sports car and supercar market and get it so right is an incredible achievement and every time they bring out a new car it’s more impressive than the last. I’ve now been lucky enough to have driven the 570GT, the 570S and the utterly amazing 720S and I really do think the 570S Spider is the best of the bunch and if I had the cash, I’d have one over anything else in that price bracket.

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