A Trifecta is a term that would be known to anyone that has been around a horse racing betting office. It’s a parimutuel bet where the punter (the person laying the bet) predicts the placing on three horses in a race and bets accordingly. As the odds are high the punter stands to win relatively large on a small outlay. To be successful in this area takes either sublime luck – ie picking names of horses that remind you of your dog or something else of personal relevance – or you can treat it scientifically, the horse pedigree, you can reference the horses history of finishes, its previous form on the particular track, the weather, the field surface, the jockey, the race length… Phew, pet names sound a lot easier. Whichever way you choose, if you win the sum of the result by far exceeds the stake on an individual punt. So why am I telling you all of this?
This week I managed to get behind the wheel of the McLaren 570S, a supercar that has three distinct modes, personalities and performance levels that are great individually but added together they produce a ‘whole’ sublime sports car driving experience.
The outside is a flowing mix of angles designed to slip through the air and capture it where necessary. The headlights that bare similarities to the McLaren kiwi logo nestle flawlessly into the supercar’s nose cone. McLaren had given me the Silica White version to play with and although I’m not a great lover of white cars, but this special colour has a unique depth to it and once offset with the character giving black and carbon fibre accessories it made the car incredibly attractive. The profile gives you a door decal that rises from the front wheel and joins a large air scoop all while accentuating an air flow ‘bridge’ that hides the door handle (well button in fact). Drivers position and mid engine position seem to complement each other and I assume (especially with my weight) brings the 42F/58R distribution more into line. The almost nonexistent overhang at the rear (over the back wheels) leads you on to possibly one of the best looking rears in the business right now.
Dihedral (Scissor) doors in general are as optically stimulating as they are seemingly annoying to live with – almost love/hate – not an issue with the 570S. I was allowed the jump into a 650 in the McLaren showroom to almost highlight the difference. Getting into the 650 with its MonoCell core (full length door sills and lower hanging door) is un-ceremonial however the 570S with its MonoCell II has more of an hourglass design and doors that don’t need crawling under. I did have trouble with the door ‘switch’ though and would prefer a more mechanical handle.
The interior is all modern and minimalistic. The full leather seats are figure hugging and yet forgiving for the more generous body types. There is a pouch in front of the driver’s seat; a place for you to put the key, carbon fibre fills in the rest with a ‘portrait’ touch screen for infotainment. This example had an 8 speaker McLaren sound system that to be honest I only had going for around 5 minutes – it’s probably quite fine but who really cares when you have an engine so close to your ears, and what an engine it is.
It’s a 3.8 Litre Twin turbo V8 dry sump engine that produces its nameplate 570 PS (Pferdestarkes – German for HP) or translated to 419kW’s and 600Nm. These numbers sound great but the exhaust note on start up or under high revs sounds better. Here are a couple of other numbers for you to mull over – top speed is 328kph, 0-100 in 3.2 seconds, 0-200 in 9.5 seconds and as its MonoCelled II chassis and body is light (1,344kg’s) it can pull up from 100-0 in 33m – a shade over half the distance needed for an average family car!
Yes I was apprehensive before setting off. The push button start make the engine bellow into life and gives you a strong sense of what is on offer. The McLaren service area has 3 sleeping policeman between it and the city streets – and as I sat there with the engine burbling I could only think of them as hedges that needed to be jumped. Thankfully McLaren had thought of this and has a nose raising and lowering function – genius.
With normal mode selected I edged out of the garage and on to freedom.
I have to say that my trepidation was completely unnecessary, the 570S in normal mode is; well simple to drive; some would say Uber Vanilla. The power of course is there but it’s delivered in an easy to use; non terrifying fashion. The 7 speed seamless shift dual clutch gearbox (SSG) goes about its business unnoticed, it auto downshifts and rev matches perfectly, not a judder or incorrect gear selection in sight. Basically it takes the city streets in its stride and you are immediately at ease – well as much as you can be in a McLaren supercar.
I had a little bit of work to do in the office which meant parking, the 570S comes complete with parking sensors and a camera but I still ended up doing a 20 point park where normally 1 would suffice. Unable to concentrate on office work (knowing that a McLaren was outside calling me and the fact that my friends were making my mobile run hot) I left the building and headed for the open road.
Once out of the city restrictions and feeling a little braver, I turned the dials (Power and Handling) from normal to sport. The engine note changes, the steering becomes more precise, the throttle becomes more responsive and the smile on your face becomes large – very large. The day was sunny and dry so this is the mode I spent the majority of it in. The car roars and performs as it should but still totally controllable. I took the time to use the paddles and kept the revs up much higher than I should – the tune it produced was gorgeous. Off the mark felt fast and even slipped a little but that just added to the joy. The ride was a lot firmer than ‘Normal’ but not backbreaking so.
As the day progressed I turned the dials to ‘Track’ (are you proud of me?) – the result brings out the thoroughbred racehorse and it’s like an adrenaline shot. Its stunning rear end kicks out (even while moving) and your heart skips a beat or two. Don’t get me wrong, it is correctable but there is definitely a time and a place for it so best to check your surroundings and use wisely – or find a track to have fun on. This mode also lets you engage launch control, I have still yet to master this function but I will tell you that it takes a little bit of time for your mind to catch up with the off the mark speed.
What the near 8 hours behind the wheel showed me; was that it’s possible for a car to have 3 distinct personalities. A semi sedate all rounder, a sports car that will put a massive amount of spring in your step and an out and out supercar for those days that your find yourself on a track. I reluctantly returned the car to its city stable and as nursed it over the hedges again I smiled; it had been a hell of a day, quite the adrenaline rush. It’s an experience that I’d welcome the opportunity to do again, maybe on a track and maybe overnight – rest assured I will be asking for the keys again; that’s a sure thing you can bet on.