• Available for £90,000
• 3.8-litre V8 twin-turbo, rear-wheel drive
• Incredibly quick but also highly useable
• IRIS infotainment much improved but still imperfect
• Some bodywork and suspension niggles
• Not easy to run one outside the McLaren network
Some say that the 720S is not only the best McLaren but one of the very best supercars ever – they might be right. However, if you gathered together the fortunate few who have driven both the 720S and the 570S you’ll have no bother finding people who rate the 570 above the 720 on pure driving enjoyment.
With blazing performance, barnacle grip and boffin-pleasing tech, the 570S of 2015 was the full ticket. Pitched directly at the Porsche 911 Turbo, it delivered supercar performance without the ungainliness of size that could impinge on the driving experience of many ‘real’ supercars in real life.
As long as you were financially qualified, the range of buyers to whom the 570 appealed was wide, from thrusting millennials with zero interest in heritage to cash-rich retirees who remembered and respected the McLaren badge. In between those two ends of the spectrum, you had customers who wanted a seriously fast and stylish sports car and who also believed that the reputation of McLaren’s glitchy 2011 MP4-12C was far enough away in the memory to be set aside.
Most of those who took the plunge on a 570S, which was the launch model of McLaren’s ‘Sports Series’ line, agreed with the view of magazine testers who thought that it accurately defined what McLaren was trying to achieve with its road cars. Although Sports Series signified aluminium bodywork rather than the composite panels adorning the Super Series cars, the carbon tub that remained at the core of the 570S guaranteed extreme lightness – up to 300kg lighter than most, if not all of the (usually much more expensive) big-name rivals that, despite the McLaren’s lack of active aero or fancy linked hydraulic suspension systems, were regularly embarrassed by it on in group tests.
Mechanically it was a heavy puncher. The familiar twin-turbo 3.8 litre flat-plane V8 and ultra-quick seven-speed dual-clutch auto added up to low-three second 0-62mph times and a genuine 200mph-plus top speed. Join those elements up to a wonderfully well-damped chassis perched on sensibly slender rubber (up front anyway) and the result was something that was both reassuringly stable and highly responsive over just about any road you cared to name. Helping you along was good visibility out of the cabin for safe operation at mad speeds, if that was your wont. Simple, clear TFT instrumentation and control surfaces that were unencumbered by Top Gun-style splatterings of buttons and switches all contributed to the feeling of pure driving focus.
It seemed a pity that this impactful progenitor of the Sport Series effectively only had only a five-year lifespan. Although it was announced in 2015, sales didn’t start until the very end of that year. It was culled in 2021 to make way for the next McLaren generation of GTs and horizon-warpers.
A few variants of the 570S were launched in that five-year period. The 2016-19 570GT offered extra softness and practicality, not to mention Ford Focus-beating boot space. That ran alongside a new entry-level Sport Series car, the relatively shunned and rare 540C. A 570S Spider pitched up for the 2017 model year, followed in 2018 and 2019 by the 600 Longtail (LT) coupe and Spider respectively. These were all great cars in their own right, but they’re stories for another day. Today we’re homing in on the car that started an important transitional era for McLaren.
Did the 570S die too soon, or will its short lifespan add mystique and consequential value as the years go by? Is the 1,395kg 680hp 3.0 V6 Artura, McLaren’s first production hybrid, a worthy replacement for it? Let’s don our grey polo neck jumpers and designer specs and have a gander.
SPECIFICATION | McLAREN 570S (2016-on)
Engine: 3,799cc V8 32v twin-turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 570@7,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 443@5,000-6,000rpm
0-62mph (secs): 3.2
Top speed (mph): 204
Weight (kg): 1,313
MPG (official combined): 26.6
CO2 (g/km): 258 (NEDC)
Wheels (in): 8 x 19 (f), 10 x 20 (r)
Tyres: 225/35 (f), 285/35 (r)
On sale: 2015 – 2021?
Price new: £145,000
Price now: from £90,000
Note for reference: car weight and power data are hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it’s wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
Considering it had a twin-turbocharged 90-degree V8 of getting on for four litres displacement, the 570S’s engine stats were unusual. Not in the actual outputs of 570hp and 443lb ft, which were more than healthy for a car weighing not much more than 1,300kg, but in the region of the tachometer where those numbers were achieved – 7,500rpm for the power and 5,000-6,500rpm for the torque.
That apart, the crispness and punch of the engine were something else, matching the Ferrari F12 and McLaren’s own 650S over the quarter-mile sprint and beating the Porsche 911 Turbo S over the same measure. The sound of the 570S was more functional than soul-stirring. A sports exhaust improved things but there was no getting away from the fact that the flat-plane engine design was always going to sound more like two fours bolted together than what we might commonly term a ‘classic’ V8. The twin-clutch seven-speed transmission was superb.
As we’ve said a few times in these guides, battery condition is absolutely key to the reliability of today’s electronics-packed cars. Recognising the jet-setting lifestyle of its ownership demographic, McLaren provided a gauge in the 570S to tell you how long you could leave it undriven in the long-term car park before the battery died. Maybe that’s the sort of info you’d prefer not to have, just trusting luck instead.
Random check engine lights could come up. When that happened, you needed a code to reset not only those but any other warnings for oil changes or required maintenance. McLaren has exclusive access to those codes. Oil services could take as much as six hours. Missing any annual/10k service invalidated the warranty. Coolant hoses could leak, so it was smart to check the ground underneath a secondhand car not just before you took a test drive but also after it in case the owner has been out with the mop prior to your arrival.
The 570S was a rolling rebuttal of the old trope that 50/50 front-rear weight distribution was the only recipe for rewarding handling. Only 42 per cent of the McLaren’s weight was over its front wheels, but the available grip for a rear-drive was amazing and the bonus for that front-light setup was rapid electro-hydraulic (not electric) steering.
Even if the weight distribution looked surprising on paper, the suspension design didn’t. It was a conventional mix of double wishbones all round with adaptive dampers and anti-roll bars. Carbon ceramic brakes were standard. As long as you pressed the brake pedal hard enough, stopping a 570S could feel every bit as violent as accelerating one. You could get some side-slip under heavy throttle in first, but the traction control quickly stepped in to rescue the situation and make it look like you always meant to do that.
The ride was on the stiff side, but 911s from the more extreme end of the range felt stiffer. Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres were standard fitment but new buyers could specify ‘straight’ P Zeros at no extra cost. McLaren had specific compounds for its tyres so to avoid any potential aggro on an insurance claim you should ensure that the ‘MC’ legend appears on the sidewalls of any car you’re interested in.
Dampers could leak. You could sometimes see that with your own eyes but 570S coil springs were also notorious for breaking and that’s not so easy to spot if you don’t have a ramp or car lift. The giveaways will be clearer on a test drive. Broken springs will cause front-end clunks when you twirl the steering from lock to lock. Dry dampers will also clunk. Many new buyers saw the nose lift and reversing camera as must-have options so it’s worth having those in any used 570S you might be thinking of buying, not only for your own convenience but also for better resale down the line.
You could see traces of both the 650S and the P1 in the 570S’s neatly rounded-off bodywork. GT models with the glass roof were a fair bit heavier than the S and you could feel the difference on the road. Pressing a button in the back of the 570 driver’s door popped open a small flap on the engine cover for access to the coolant and engine oil fillers. Removing the whole engine cover was a relatively simple matter of undoing a few bolts. This greatly simplified working on something like the exhaust system which could generate high labour charges on the ‘armadillo shell’ 12Cs, 650s and 720s.
The S’s tub sills were 80mm lower than the 650’s, easing entry and exit through the dihedral doors, but some degree of dexterousness was still required especially if the optional race seats were fitted. The ‘frunk’ would take a typical carry-on bag without any bother. In the best McLaren tradition, the doors sometimes needed a fairly hefty slam. Panel fit generally on some cars could cause a raised eyebrow or two. Front splitters could fall off.
Colour choice wasn’t that critical. Bright hues have proved just as popular as the more muted ‘grown up’ ones. Towing eye covers regularly went missing and sourcing replacements could be a long-winded process as they’re highly sought after. It wasn’t just finding one but also painting it as McLaren doesn’t release paint codes, meaning that you had to go to a McLaren specialist who did have code access. If the car you’re looking to buy doesn’t have its cover, make that the seller’s problem, not yours.
Weight-saving was always a big thing at McLaren and this policy extended to the thickness of the glass used. Maybe they went too far on that because windscreens on 12Cs, especially tracked ones, had a habit of cracking. 570s aren’t immune to this and it appears that their rear windows crack too. Cracks can be hard to spot as they tend to start off small and grow, so be diligent in your examination of the glass edges front and rear. The number of 570s that have been wrecked is not low so it’s fairly easy to source replacement rear glass in the aftermarket, avoiding high factory prices.
Windscreen wiper motors blew. The main tell-tale prior to total failure was intermittent operation. Aluminium doesn’t rust like steel, but it does corrode and some 570s have suffered from bubbling under the paint. Danger areas for that were the engine cover, wheel arches and door seams and bottoms.
The arrival of the 570S brought in a new design aesthetic for the dash, the old sloping switchgear panel replaced by a ‘floating’ infotainment screen on the central console. McLaren’s decision to build its own IRIS infotainment system turned out to be a step too far on the MP4-12C but things had improved quite a bit by the time the 570S iteration came out. Even so, trying to get the sat-nav, digital radio or Bluetooth to work in places where it really should be working, i.e., cities, could sometimes be a fruitless exercise.
Free software upgrades came with the IRIS infotainment system for the duration of the three-year new car warranty period, but if you didn’t extend that (to up to 12 years) you had to pay for subsequent ones, and they weren’t cheap. Having said all that, the IRIS system has greatly improved over time and on the 570S it offers cool features like lap times, GPS circuit mapping, and track cameras. To avoid battery drain always make sure that the IRIS is turned off at the end of a drive. Unless you were planning on using your 570S on a daily basis, a trickle charger was pretty much an essential purchase. CTEK units from Sweden have a good reputation.
The standard four-speaker audio was McLaren’s lightest ever. An eight-speaker system was available, but the 1,280w Bowers & Wilkins setup with 12 speakers including five aluminium Nautilus tweeters is what you would really like to see on the spec of any used 570S. As much carbon fibre as possible is usual for a 570S spec sheet – but if there’s only one CF option box ticked it’s nice if that’s for the gearshift paddles.
Don’t go thinking after reading this that the 570S is a bag of trouble. It’s really not. It’s just that the few faults it does have have been easily identified and entered into the public log for the car, so everybody knows about them. What we don’t know is how much most owners are enjoying their 570s with few or no faults to report. Compared to other earlier McLarens, and the MP4-12C in particular, the 570 was a paragon of dependability.
Reliability-wise, the 570S stacks up well against certain other McLarens such as the 12C and the 650S which suffered from the odd electronic suspension woe. When you consider that 12Cs rarely dip below £70k and sellers are hanging price tags that are considerably larger than that on MP4-12C ‘investments’, despite their reputation, £80k for a 570S seems like quite the bargain. Even so, the careful buyer might choose to look away from 2015 and 2016 570s and focus on 2017 or later examples.
If early-car reputations don’t bother you, the lowest priced 570S coupe on PH classifieds (where you’ll generally find around thirty coupes for sale) at the time of writing was this 25,000-mile 2016 car in Ventura Orange at £87,900. Throw an extra £7k into the pot and you can move up to a 2017 car in the same colour but with 10,000 fewer miles.
The most expensive coupe on PH was a 2018 11,000-mile car with a £45,000 list worth of extras, at a fiver short of £135k, but £20k less than that would put you in this sensibly-specced (Supersport titanium exhaust, Bowers & Wilkins audio) 2019 car with 6,500 miles. If you don’t mind paying extra for a Spider, PH had about twenty of those to choose from, starting at just under £110k for this one in black with the desirable vehicle lift and reversing camera. At the other end of the price scale you’ll find a few in the £125k-£130k bracket, including this blue car that’s just a couple of years old at a whisker under £128k.