Review by Jason Saini, Dennis Bindarau / Photos by Dennis Bindarau
2019 McLaren 570S Spider: Car enthusiasts of certain ages all grew up with posters of supercars on their walls. It might have been a Lamborghini Countach or Ferrari Testarossa, but there was likely an image emblazoned on the wall. While these companies have been producing supercars since their inception, the racing team McLaren – responsible for 12 F1 driving championships – spun off the McLaren Automotive division in the early 80’s.
First producing what amounted to a road-going version of their LeMans GT racer, the company only recently got into the realm of supercars. Starting with the release of the MP4-12C in 2011, McLaren has since refined their offerings to go toe-to-toe with the giants in the class. Now with 570, 650 and 720hp variants of their carbon-fiber chassis cars available, McLaren has not only earned a place among the elite, they may have just surpassed them.
Hopping into our bright orange McLaren 570S Spider test car, it’s immediately apparent that this is essentially a purpose-built racing car for the street. The wide door sills are a function of the carbon fiber chassis, and the exposed carbon on the dash and center console are not decorative – this car is _made_ of it.
Despite the perception of a sports car to be small, even taller drivers can fit in a McLaren. Even wearing a helmet, you would still have some space between your head and the roof.
All that leads to a weight of just under 3000lb, light by today’s supercar standards. The 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 that sits in the back feeds power through a 7-speed dual clutch transaxle. The chassis is so stiff that you can feel every little undulation in the road – not because it’s got a harsh ride, but because it’s so connected to the road. The ride is actually quite manageable, especially with the baseline drive mode.
Razer sharp handling and great steering feedback in this 2019 McLaren 570S. Some of the Formula 1 tech has been utilized here. Brake steer applies individual rear brake (inside the wheel) to help steer faster. Steering is very direct and responsive.
As soon as you pass the first gear, acceleration is brutal. Having so much power at your rear wheels requires smooth and precise power delivery, and McLaren has absolutely accomplished it in this car. With 0-60 under 3.5 seconds, you don’t just see the speed, you feel it.
There’s a whole host of changes present when you select different drive modes, from the electronic dampers to the displays – everything changes to suit the desired drive characteristics. This is a supercar that feels right at home on a way to a grocery store, while carving a canyon, being stuck in traffic, or raging through a racetrack.
Having nose lift is the most important feature you ever wanted in your quarter million dollar car. Going through tight parking lots would be quite stressful without it. One click in the menu and you get additional 15.7 inches (40 cm) of front clearance. We’ve been able to park the Spider and drive it without even touching the front splitter.
The only thing we didn’t really like is the back-up camera or, to be exact, its specific position. It pops up on your driver’s dash and gets blocked by the steering wheel while parking.
Stepping into the shoes of those who would complain about the British version of the supercar, it would only be that it lacks some of the ‘passion’ of its Italian predecessors. Kind of like British food being a ‘little less inspiring’ than Italian food, but here the end result is in laser sharp performance, incredible handling and cutting-edge technology. While the engine note may not be as evocative, it’s still a siren song from behind your head and when it pins you in the seat, your smile is just as wide as in any competitor.
Looks-wise, it’s a futuristic interpretation of the supercar, with more ‘function’ showing through than form. Lots of aerodynamic bits are visible, as well as the many cooling ducts. The Italians work harder to hide these functional elements beneath a pretty face. In the end, which version appeals to you probably has to do with which side of your brain you favor, but needless to say, this is still an exciting design.
When it comes to outlaying a quarter million dollars for a supercar, you have lots of choices. While it would be easy to see the McLaren as the new-boy in town, they have been winning races for almost half a century. There is a lot of history and passion behind this brand, and when you combine that with exciting looks, visceral performance and pinnacle technology – you end up with a winner.
Special thanks to McLaren Automotive for providing the 2019 McLaren 570S Spider for review.