Tall, clean cut, and conservatively dressed in a snappy blue suit, Rob Melville doesn’t fit the car designer stereotype. But the head of design at McLaren Automotive and one of the driving forces behind the all-new 2016 McLaren 570S coupe making its world debut at the 2015 New York auto show is extremely passionate, eminently knowledgeable, and espouses a holistic approach when it comes to McLaren’s evolving road-car business.
Melville and his team deploy a philosophy he bills as “Total Design,” a fusion of engineering, ergonomics, aerodynamics, and design. From our initial look at the McLaren 570S, the first expression of McLaren’s new Sports Series model line, all of these elements were more than taken into account. Though in the 570S you can see the resemblance to the 650S and the P1 — the core models of the brand’s Super and Ultimate lines, respectively, Melville and his team have also succeeded in carving out a unique presence for the brand’s latest car.
Elements such as the door panels, with their trombone-cut look jazzily blowing air into the 570S engine bay, help the first of the McLaren Sports Series models distinguish itself. The flying buttresses, layered panels, gaping forward intakes, and exhaust grates contribute as well. It’s a carefully orchestrated symphony of exterior forms primarily crafted from aluminum and carbon fiber that all play their part in cooling, downforce, and heat evacuation for the fixed aero package design. It’s also the culmination of lessons learned through the development of the 650S and P1. We’re guessing more than a few 650S owners are going to gaze longingly at it. (Get out the checkbook and make room in the garage.)
“It’s all about being efficient, driving, guiding the air around the car, creating something that’s visually athletic,” Melville says during our behind-the-scenes preview of the 570S recently in London. He points to nature (as Cheetahs flash on the screen during his presentation) and military hardware such as the SR-71 Blackbird supersonic spy jet as inspirations. Cheetahbird? “The car needs to tell a visual story of how the air flows around it.” Consider it told.
When it comes to the car’s underpinnings and powertrain, as you’d expect for a company known for its engineering excellence, McLaren brought its A-plus game to the 570S. Like all the numbered cars in its lineup, the 570 stands for the metric horsepower output of the car’s engine (that’s 562 hp and 443 lb-ft to us Yanks). While the powerplant configuration — a mid-mounted, 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission driving 20-inch rear wheels (19-inchers up front) shod in Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber — is roughly the same as the 650S, McLaren has evolved its award-winning M838T V-8 engine. The 570S version of the mill will benefit from multiple as yet unspecified hardware and software changes, as well as a new exhaust system — all designed to maximize efficiency and power delivery. The sonic soundtrack we experienced at the London reveal was a chart-topping type cut.
McLaren estimates roughly a 3.1-second sprint to 60 mph and 9.5 seconds to 124 mph for the 570S, on to a top speed of 204 mph. Those are supercar numbers in the high-end sports-car segment. Whoa-ing the car down from blistering speeds is a carbon-ceramic brake setup that comes as standard equipment.
As with the rest of the McLaren lineup, carbon fiber plays a key part in the construction of the 570S, with the brand’s MonoCell II chassis that weighs roughly 176 pounds thanks to extensive use of the lightweight material. (McLaren says the car’s total weight is 2,895 pounds.) Suspending the 570S is a double-wishbone setup front and rear, integrated with anti-roll bars and active dampers. Normal, Sport, and Track settings allow the driver to adjust powertrain and handling characteristics.
So yes, we expect the 570S to be a world-class, badass performer. But McLaren officials also sledgehammered home the new car’s mission as an accessible car you can drive every day. The Sports Series has been designed to be McLaren’s most usable and attainable model. To that end, ingress and egress have been improved in large part with changes to the door sweeps and how the doors open, and luggage capacity is reportedly best in class (there’s even a cupholder!). Its finely crafted, leather-swathed interior features a digital instrument panel. A 7-inch navigation/infotainment screen is integrated into the car’s floating center stack, and numerous other available options include top shelf audio and other interior enhancements.
As for its primary foil, McLaren lobbed several darts squarely in the direction of the Porsche 911 Turbo S. It should be priced right in that car’s ballpark, with initial estimates in the $180,000-plus range. A spider version is all but assured, as is a more hardcore performance variant, although it remains to be seen if the slightly less powerful and expensive 540C model will be offered here. The 2016 McLaren 570S is expected to hit U.S. streets in the next few months, and from what we’ve seen of it so far, it’s a car that rounds out McLaren’s lineup and should further burnish its rep as producers of finely crafted, expertly engineered machines.
2016 McLaren 570S Specifications
- On sale: Summer
- Price: $180,000 (est)
- Engine: 3.8L, twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/562 hp @ 7,500 rpm, 443 lb-ft @ 5,500-6,500 rpm
- Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
- Layout: 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, RWD coupe
- EPA Mileage: 17/23 mpg city/hwy (est)
- L x W x H: 178.3 x 82.5 (with mirrors) x 47.3 in
- Wheelbase: 105.1 in
- Weight: 2,895 lb
- 3.1 sec (est)
- Top speed: 204 mph