McLaren - New York 2015

There was dry ice, a strange musical act in the form of a rock violinist and the inevitable mention of the Black Swan Moments that have been teasing us for months. But in a converted warehouse in New York, we finally got to meet the McLaren Sports Series in the carbon for the first time in the form of the 570S Coupe.

Low sill should prevent entry/exit histrionics
Low sill should prevent entry/exit histrionics
It's seldom you encounter a new car that is set to double the size of the company that produces it, but that's the stated aim for the Sports Series. If all goes to plan then it will account for over half of McLaren's production by the time the third body variant is launched in 2017; that's a seriously big ask for any car.

First impressions are - well, good. Okay, so the car we saw was a fully blinged 570S with optional carbonfibre bodywork and ultra-light forged alloy wheels; the basic 540C is going to look considerably more sparse than this. But then the entry level model is also going to have a pricetag of around £127,000 - £65,000 less than the 650S Coupe, the current entry to McLaren ownership in the UK. We're told the 570S will start at around £145,000, so still a healthy discount. And with the Sports Series also offering a carbonfibre monocoque and twin-turbocharged V8 engine it's hard to see what buyers will lose by going for the cheaper car.

Forged wheels needed for that 1,313kg weight
Forged wheels needed for that 1,313kg weight
Well aware of this, McLaren chose to emphasise the differences between the Sports Series and the 650S/ 675 LT 'Super Series' rather than the similarities. We're told that 30 per cent of the new car's engine is different, and we know it loses both the Super Series' active aerodynamics and also its clever interconnected active suspension (although it keeps switchable dampers). The Sports Series also has mostly aluminium bodywork and - thanks mostly to the reinforcement needed for the wider and lower sill - it weighs slightly more.

The official line that the 570S is 1,313kg with 'lightweight options' rang some alarm bells - that's the same euphemism that some supercar makers use for stripping a car to a shell and then drilling holes in it. But the difference in weight between a 570S with every mass-reducing option ticked and a full-fat one is a relatively modest 31kg, meaning it's still set to be the lightest car in its segment by a fair margin.

The design is clever. McLaren's headlight treatment has split opinion here before, with the critical tide in the forums running against it. From head-on the smallness of the lights and the vastness of the number means this might be the first car to look better while wearing a UK numberplate. But you've got to respect the abilities of a design team that has managed to make the Sports Series look smaller than the 650S - as befits its status as the baby of the family - despite the fact it's slightly longer. And the cabin is just better. Scuzzy journos weren't allowed to climb into a one-off show car, but the lowered sill makes it look far easier to get into, and the dashboard and instrument pack seem neater and better laid out than the 650S.

Looks smaller than a 650S, is actually longer
Looks smaller than a 650S, is actually longer
Like all McLarens its been designed with extensive reference to the wind tunnel, and although there have been some accusations that the shape of the air intake set into the door has been designed to look like the wing of that frequently mentioned Black Swan, design director Frank Stephenson was keen to tell us that's its actually the most efficient shape for an intake there is, being in effect half a NACA duct. Getting any car to a 200mph-plus top speed without any moveable rear wing is a considerable achievement in aero-engineering.

After the Coupe there will be a second variant, which although unconfirmed we believe will be branded as Long Tail, launched in 2016 with the Spider following in 2017. And if those sales ambitions go to plan then, by then, this will be the car you're most likely to think of when somebody says "McLaren."


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Comments (40) Join the discussion on the forum

  • British Beef 01 Apr 2015

    How about an old school variant that does with a manual gearbox and a nice simple NA V12 engine, no ABS or traction control......
    That would really float my boat, if I was in a position to dump £200k in a sports car!!!!

  • Daston 01 Apr 2015

    Since when has 1,300kg been considered as "light weight".

  • Oddball RS 01 Apr 2015

    18th design iteration and its getting there,

    (Got to say it)

    I think it would benefit from a Honda power unit though............................

  • Macboy 01 Apr 2015

    British Beef said:
    How about an old school variant that does with a manual gearbox and a nice simple NA V12 engine, no ABS or traction control......
    That would really float my boat, if I was in a position to dump £200k in a sports car!!!!
    Because there is absolutely no market for it (including you)?

  • graeme4130 01 Apr 2015

    I wouldn't like to be a 650s owner with an eye on the second hand values now that this has turned up for circa £100k less with only 80bhp less (can you really tell the difference between 570 and 650bhp on the road?), less weight and arguably a much prettier rear end (I always thought the rear end of the 650s a design weak point in an otherwise stunning car)
    I think it'll be a very popular car, but I can't help from feeling it detracts from the experience of the 650s other than for people that 'have to have the better model' and surely that's where the 675LT comes in

    It's also the first car from MCL in my price range smile

    Edited by graeme4130 on Wednesday 1st April 14:25

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