Never have I generated such interest, fanfare and admiration in my life. I now understand the unyielding harassment of paparazzi, constant prying eyes and the level of scrutiny my fellow celebrities suffer. No, this isn’t because of the popularity of the EFTM podcast (catch it when you fly Virgin Australia courtesy of its inflight entertainment) it’s because an everyday man like me was shunted into a McLaren 570S Spider over the course of one weekend. A car that sends people into a state of fever.
When I think McLaren, like most, I immediately associate the brand with F1. Rightly so of course, in 1981 the company introduced the carbon fibre chassis to the series. In 1993 a McLaren F1 road car arrived. Carbon fibre has been at the core of all McLaren vehicles since. McLaren Automotive launched in 2010, a division to rival traditional foes and pump out a range of sportscars and supercars. The UK company is now the largest part of the McLaren Group. The road-going line-up is spilt across three categories, the Sports Series, Super Series and Ultimate Series. The car I drove falls under the Sports Series banner.
Few people I guess have the chance to sit behind the wheel of a car of this nature, even fewer would drive it around like a normal everyday runabout like I did. One Saturday morning it started, being a car priced over 500K it was safely ensconced in the garage. Opening the door and seeing this yellow feat of design sitting where normally there’s a Camry Hybrid was sobering. It truly is a supercar from every angle, squatting like a saucer on the ground. With aggressive angled bumpers, rear splitter and vents across the flat rear end that peer into the 3.8-litre twin-turbo mid-mounted engine.
Up rolled the garage door, revealing a mostly black booty that frankly is intimidating. Passing locals immediately started to slow down and stare. My driveway can resemble a car show as one neighbour put it, while another once assumed I must be a drug kingpin. The surrounding families are now used to what I do, but the Spider smashed any car fatigue they may have had.
My first stops included Petbarn, the chemist and Bunnings. Yep, sounds crazy but why not? 9am on a Saturday morning is peak hour at the Home Centre that accommodates all these shops. This is when the paparazzi struck. One bloke had visited the McLaren factory in Woking, Surrey England. He was all over the car instantly, anther couldn’t wait to prank his wife suggesting the proceeds of their recent home sale had gone into this car.
The drive by of the Bunnings sausage sizzle probably resulted in several burnt sangers as the volunteers cast an eye over this foreigner. Children became separated from their parents and the two tradies utes I squashed in between really made me look like a word that kicks off with ‘W’. I can guarantee none of this is hyperbole, such is the uniqueness of this car.
This kind of mobbing continued for the next two days, people even while driving would risk four demerit points and snap a pic, some even used iPads to score a shot. I have been in Ferraris, Lamborghinis, a couple of Rolls Royces plus the best the European luxury brands have on offer. But this kind of reaction was unsurpassed.
Ins and Outs.
A 3.8-litre twin-turbo mid-mounted V8 produces 419kW/600Nm connected to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. It will sprint to 100km/h in 3.2 seconds, but I swear it feels quicker, possibly because the ability to retract the hardtop roof does let in a fair degree of wind buffering. This is an extremely high-revving V8 with a 9000rpm limit down on the tachometer. If you are ever near the 8500rpm limiter you’re either on a track or have lost your mind. But for me, pottering around my region along with a few twists and turns through semi-rural areas was all time would permit.
The exhaust note is a tad disappointing, even with the roof down. I suspect it sounds better to those around you than from behind the buttonless wheel. Don’t get me wrong this is potentially a very loud car, in fact I have become one of those tunnel guys. Blipping the throttle and sending an explosive shard of noise channelling throughout the Lane Cove Tunnel. But you really need to be hurtling along to get this baby singing like a Soprano, even with the optional sports exhaust.
Speaking of options, exterior wise our example came equipped with that amazing ‘Sicillian’ Yellow Elite paintjob, McLaren Special Operations (MSO) Dark Palladium roof and stealth badge set. The interior was sporting highlights such as McLaren design black and yellow highlights, soft close doors, Alcantara steering wheel, power adjustable steering column and electric memory for the heated seats. The latter being almost impossible to adjust as a new user, with the buttons found so deep down a crevice you need muscle memory to remember what button does what.
The rims were a 10-spoke design with brake calipers coated in silver, the rear discs have two. The 2nd rear mounted pads apply slight pressure to help brake steer a little. A Bowers and Wilkins 12 speaker sound system runs through a very rudimentary infotainment system. Changing music tracks is a punish, requiring you to exit the main menu and flick back to the Bluetooth display constantly. But hey, infotainment is probably the last thing on a buyer’s mind.
Thankfully you get a lift kit operated via a stalk, at lower speeds you can raise the height to prevent dreaded encounters with steep driveways. Safety is good with a reversing camera and sophisticated alarm system. Just don’t do what I did at a servo while on a milk run, I locked the car with the roof open. Came back and dropped the milk bottle onto the front seat, setting off the alarm. #Embarrassing.
Supercars can be a punish around town, often stiff, loud and overly harsh with poor outward vision. The 570S Spider doesn’t ride like a family sedan but on decent roads it’s one of the more liveable examples. Plus, vision through the upright retractable rear window and blind spots is especially good. While it’s hardly an A – B car it’s comfortable enough in most situations.
The power off the line is simply ridiculous, hitting 80km/h in first usually happens because there’s no time to remember to paddle up a gear when in manual mode. The car corners like no car I’ve ever driven. It scoffs at the recommended cornering speed signs, if they say 60km/h the Spider will do it at 100km/h providing that’s the overall speed limit of course.
The only time the physics defying set up is disturbed is on coarse, bump laden back roads. But this is probably true of any supercar. But no matter what drive mode you’re in be it track, performance or normal mode the McLaren 570S Spider is one of the world’s great drives. It can stop on a ten-cent coin, power out of a corner like a rocket all while giving the average driver a sense of “yep I can handle this”.
The Hip Pocket
Prices kick off before on roads at $435,750 but try $501,644 after options. Fuel economy sits at 10.7L/100km if I had the chance to work out where the actual figure was I’d expect it was closer to 17-litres. A tank seemed to take me about 400km.
The EFTM Rubber Stamp of Approval.
Personally, it’s a little confronting to drive a car with so much mass appeal. But it does make you appreciate the rarity of such a car. In 2017 McLaren sold 3,340 cars across 80 markets worldwide, so you can only imagine the scarcity of them in a country such as Australia. Design wise with its scissor doors, phenomenal beauty from every angle and lunatic performance potential I must award the McLaren 570S Spider the EFTM Distinction Rubber Stamp of Approval.