Price as tested: $538,845
This month: 460km @ 13.6L/100km
THIS IS going to sound ridiculous given this 419kW/600Nm weapon from Woking is the fastest long-termer Wheels has ever run, and yet, here, right now, on the first couple of kilometres of our Car of the Year test route, it feels … slow. Actually, that is ridiculous. Slow isn’t the right word. Gentle? Measured? Unhurried?
It’s none of these things, of course. Even allowing for the fact that the 570GT is the ‘soft one’ in McLaren’s entry-level Sports Series range and has the greatest focus on real-world usability (courtesy of softer suspension, slower steering and a useful luggage compartment behind the seats), it is an absolute rocketship. 0-100km/h takes 3.4sec and if you keep it pinned, the quarter mile is dispatched in 11.1sec – time equal to the mighty McLaren F1.
Yet life is all about context, and thanks to a stint in America driving the McLaren 600LT, my context is totally out of whack. Of all the cars to drive before a 570GT, the 600LT is possibly the worst. Where the GT’s pitch is all about bandwidth and being an everyday supercar, the 600LT has a narrower focus – uncompromising performance. It’s a monster. So much so that it really does make our 570GT seem soft in comparison.
I’m aware that this is the epitome of a First World problem (“My last McLaren was more exciting, waaah!”), but stay with me, because it’s interesting on a couple of levels. First up is the issue of price. As the 600LT is positioned as the pinnacle of McLaren’s Sports Series range, you’d expect it to be significantly more expensive. And yet it isn’t. Starting at $496,000, the base 600LT is $42K less expensive (I won’t say ‘cheaper’) than our 570GT, which is carrying some tasty options.
More illuminating, however, is the realisation that even though McLaren’s road car range is vast and sometimes requires a sextant to decode, it shows that Woking’s engineers are capable of giving different models distinctly unique flavours. No mean feat given they’re all built around the same basic recipe: carbon tub, twin-turbo V8, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
So where the 600LT is like a deranged rottweiler straining at the lead, the 570GT is more restrained. Throttle calibration in Normal mode verges on docile and requires greater travel than you initially expect to make quick progress. The suspension is more relaxed, the cabin is relatively hush for a supercar, and despite the theatre of the dihedral doors, entry and egress are surprisingly easy.
Don’t dismiss it as a softy, however. While it never feels as feral as the 600LT, our 570GT is ferociously fast. Deceptively fast. On our COTY route, it’s so capable and unflustered that I often see speeds that are 30-40km/h higher than I expect.
That the 570GT is able to coolly and swiftly pick apart our favourite section of tarmac is no real surprise. These are the kind of roads McLarens live for. A sterner test will surely be to see how it copes with the speedhumps, gutters, tailgating SUVs and steep driveways that we all battle with every day. More on that next month.