McLaren 570S (2015 - 2021) used car review

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

The McLaren 570S is a car that back in 2015 took its maker into new, more accessible territory, offering a supercar feel to buyers who might previously have expected to have had to settle for something less. The Woking maker claimed it was easy to live with, yet dramatic to drive and as a result, wanted this model to attract a wide circle of buyers. Should you be one of them on the used market? Let's find out.

Models

(2dr coupe / 2dr Spider)

History

What really differentiates a really fast sportscar from a fully-fledged supercar? Price? Performance? Daily usability? Or perhaps a mere sportscar just looks less exotic. This one, the McLaren 570S really doesn't.

It was, we were assured by the Woking maker at this model's launch back in 2015, 'just' a very fast sportscar. Yet, uniquely in its segment, it offered all the credentials you'd expect from a top-tier supercar: lightweight carbon fibre construction, low-slung futuristic looks, a mid-engined rear wheel drive configuration - even shattering performance. If your idea of a car in this class is something engineered more conventionally - say a Porsche 911 Turbo S, an Audi R8 V10 Plus or a top Mercedes-AMG GT - then a 570S might well make you think again.

That's what McLaren was hoping back in 2015 anyway. Back then, the brand was relatively new to the upper end of the exclusive sportscar segment. Prior to that, the company had exclusively campaigned in proper supercar territory, initially launching itself as a credible Ferrari and Lamborghini rival with the MP4-12C of 2011. In 2014, that design evolved into a model called the 650S, which then in turn in 2017 evolved even further into the even more desirable 720S, which during this 570S model's production lifetime was the headline act in the company's mid-range 'Super Series'. Above that level sat only the really exotic 'Ultimate Series' of McLaren cars, represented by the uber-exclusive Senna model.

'Super Series' models like the 720S got trick suspension, active aerodynamics and more power, but otherwise share much with more affordable everyday-usable so-called 'Sports Series' designs like this 570S. It wasn't the cheapest car McLaren sold in its era - there was a only slightly slower 540C model available for a few thousand less - but at '570' level, customers got a much wider range of choice, including the option of an open-topped 'Spider' body style and a more practical, road-orientated 'GT' version of the core Coupe variant for those who wanted it. It was the fixed-top 570S that most McLaren customers wanted though - and here, we're going to find out why. 570S sales finished in 2021 when the car had already been effectively replaced by the McLaren GT.

What You Get

If this isn't a supercar, then what is? The dihedral doors that have featured on every McLaren road car since the iconic F1 model of the 1990s represent the most eye-catching piece of pavement theatre here but even when you close them, the effect remains striking.

Move in profile and you start to get a feeling for what McLaren was trying to do here. As a 'Sports' model rather than an exotic supercar, the 570S had to be everyday-usable, which is why you've got a much larger side-glazed area than you'd normally expect to find from a model of this kind. There was even an alternative 'GT' version of this car with extra rear storage space accessed through a glass hatch housed in revised rear bodywork. If you go for that though, you lose the standard coupe model's unique 'floating' C-pillars and its lovely rear flying buttresses that are separated by a concave rear screen. You do though, still retain much of this look if you go for the open-topped Spider model, which features an electrically-retractable roof panel that can operate in just 15 seconds at speeds of up to 25mph.

When you're ready to take a seat inside, the Dihedral doors open using a button tucked beneath the bodywork, then hinge up and outwards in an elegant arc. They lift higher than is the case with more exotic McLaren models, plus with the 570S, the forward section of the door sill was dropped by 80mm to try and help facilitate a more dignified entry and exit..

And once inside? Well this may be in McLaren terms something of a volume model, but it's still very evidently hand-crafted, each car taking a team of 370 highly trained technicians 188 man hours to build. Anything else you need to know will almost certainly be covered by the infotainment screen that dominates the upper part of the centre stack.

We'll finish with a look at boot space, which in 570S models is all concentrated under the bonnet. This compartment is 144-litres in size in the standard coupe version, which of course is pretty small, but probably large enough to take a medium-sized travel case.

What You Pay

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What to Look For

Try and find yourself a 570S equipped with the optional nose lift and reversing camera features - buyers often see these as must-have options and they will help better resale values later down the line. Look out for random warning lights coming on - you need a code to reset those and any other warnings for oil changes or needed maintenance. McLaren has exclusive access to these codes. Oil services can occupy 6 hours or more. Check that main services one and two have both been conducted on the nose. Missing any annual or 10,000 mile service invalidates the warranty. We've heard of problems with leaking coolant hoses, so check underneath the car before you set out on a test drive. We've also heard reports of windscreen wiper motors blowing. And though aluminium doesn't rust in the same way that steel does, it will corrode and some cars have suffered from bubbling under the paintwork; for this, check the engine cover, the door seams and bottoms and the wheel arches. There are also reports of rear windows cracking - and windscreens, so check the glasswork carefully. Also check the IRIS infotainment set-up, making sure all the systems work as they should.

The later the car you can buy the better, as McLaren's quality control tightened up considerably due to experience gained in the build process. Many dealers will impress upon you the importance of getting the right specification and poorly-specced cars can be slow to sell on. That means lightweight wheels, the sports exhaust and the upgraded sound system. The leather and Alcantara seats are popular but don't entertain owners trying to recoup £20k worth of spend on optional carbon fibre bits. Make sure that the doors open when wet, especially if the opening mechanism is the early touch sensor as these have proven problematic. Engine immobiliser issues have also been reported as have defective glass seals around the engine cover.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2015 570S coupe) We came across these prices at Exotic Auto Parts. An oil filter will be around £24; an air filter's about £63; a pollen filter's about £78. A thermostat is about £220; a driveline damper around £1,384. A couple of water pump gaskets will cost about £40. A front carbon brake pad kit's around £734 - or around £367 for steel pads. A pair of steel front brake discs will cost around £1,343. A Gen3 Lithium battery's around £2,393. A water pump's around £1,322. An engine oil pump is around £1,580.

On the Road

You expect an experience from a car like this - and in this McLaren, you get it. Push the starter button and the 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 out back barks gruffly into life. On the move, with 570 braked horses to push you along and just 1,313kgs of weight thanks to this car's strong but lightweight carbon fibre chassis tub, performance is startling. OK, so the V8 engine - installed out-back for the kind of perfect mid-mounted configuration that some rivals do without - isn't the most tuneful powerplant of its kind, but it delivers an astonishing punch, with the 62mph sprint dispatched in supercar style, occupying just 3.1s. And on a deserted autobahn, this McLaren won't ease up until it reaches a maximum of 204mph.

Brilliant, feelsome electro-hydraulic steering plays a big part in making this 570S good on the twisty stuff too - or at least it is in the dry. The lack of the four wheel drive system and limited slip differential that some rivals offer can make it a handful in the wet if you're not careful. The standard carbon ceramic brakes offer brilliant stopping power too. Whatever the surface, to get the best from the car, you're going to need to get familiar with the various available driving modes. Press the centre console 'Active' button and two rotary controllers (for 'Handling' and 'Powertrain) give you selectable 'Normal', 'Sport' and 'Track' options.

As well as varying the exhaust note, these affect steering feel, stability control thresholds and gear change timings for the 7-speed dual-clutch paddleshift transmission. The rotary controllers alter ride quality too, via an adaptive damping system that in its softest 'Normal' setting is surprising good at soaking up bumps - one of the things that makes this car so day-to-day usable. It'll cost plenty to run of course though. In theory, you can eke a combined fuel consumption figure of 26.6mpg out of this car: in practice, forget it. Same goes for the 249g/km CO2 rating.

Overall

You won't find a sportscar from the 2015-2021 era that does a better impression of a supercar than this McLaren 570S. You get most of the feedback, excitement and involvement that comes with a car of that kind but in a model that's far more sensible in terms of price and everyday practicality. In short, there's lots to like.

McLaren's job here was a delicate one. It needed to convince likely buyers that the 570S was great; but not quite as good as a 720S 'Super Series' model, let alone one of the company's 'Ultimate Series' cars. In many ways, those designs didn't have to compete in the real world - they were so unique. With the '570' models, McLaren always knew it would be judged differently. But it also always knew that there was a real place for this machine in the sub-supercar sector. It can, after all, offer something purer and more exciting than is available from rivals that must compromise their fundamental sports car set-ups with things like front-mounted engines, occasional back seats and four driven wheels.

Of course, you could argue that some of those competitors offer more technology, greater interior space, stronger standards of safety - and in some cases, more power too. Many of these cars though, represent the pinnacle of their respective model line-ups. This McLaren, in contrast, was merely a first step into the realm of the genuine supercar - which is where we came in. It has its faults of course: it's not anything like as day-to-day-usable as its maker thought it was. The noise of the 3.8-litre V8 isn't quite as intoxicating as you might hope. And build quality doesn't have the granite-like feel of a German rival. For all that though, we can only say that the 570S is one of the most compelling machines we've driven. It was a British sports car to take on the world.

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