2016 McLaren 570S First Look
Air Apparent: Sport Series Design Elements Show Air Just Where To Go
Let's say you're an unsuspecting air molecule that's just wafted in off the Allegheny Plateau and onto the circuit at New York's Monticello Motor Club. A bunch of fund managers, Wall Street bankers, and entrepreneurs are exercising their 911 Turbos, Aston V12 Vantages, Audi R8 V10s, and the newest road car from the world's second-oldest F1 team, McLaren. You might get your greatest thrill on a ride over and through the McLaren. Its designer, Rob Melville, has taken pains to make the ride easy for you by sculpting every high-contrast design element in such a way as to show unsuspecting air molecules like you the fastest, most efficient way over, under, around, or through the new 540C and 570S.
Oh sure, every manufacturer spends endless hours and oodles of dollars sculpting cars in a wind tunnel these days, but few display the results as obviously as McLaren has with its newest product line. Melville had little choice. His aerodynamic elements all have to work harder because these "Sport Series" models are to serve as the entry point to the brand with base pricing that undercuts the 650S by as much as $100,000. That means it must get by without the active aerodynamic elements, variable suspension tuning, and other pricey tech that differentiates McLaren's "Super Series" (650S, 675LT, and Asia-only 625C) and "Ultimate Series" (P1) cars.
So the highest-energy air hitting the nose gets ushered to where it can do the greatest good. Should our air molecule and his closest pals strike the sharp horizontal and less sharp vertical crease at the center of the nose and part company, the lower ones follow the dark panels through a set of vanes into the left and right low-temperature engine radiators sitting just ahead of each front tire and exit via an air curtain duct and through the wheelwell. This angrier turbulent air washes along the lower body-colored panels on the doors, staying out of the high-temperature radiators behind the rear scoops. Those are reserved for air taking the high road. Some of it flows over the fender and wheel flare into that dark lower recess on the door. The rest goes around the mirror stanchions and under that upper body-colored door "tendon," which is supported by an aero wing. This smooth, high-powered air flows through those rear radiators and out the mesh grilles inside the McLaren-logo taillamps while the air that missed the radiators follows the dark windowsill trim along the side glass and under the flying buttresses. This detaches and smooths the air tumbling off the roof, sucks hot air out of the engine compartment, and contributes up to 17 pounds of rear downforce at high speeds. Final drag and lift coefficients haven't been announced, but Melville says leveraging this high-energy air pays off in weight and package savings by enabling smaller, lighter radiators.
"It must get by without the active aero elements and other pricey tech that differentiates McLaren's Super Series."
If the bodywork aspires to be approachable to air molecules, the cockpit and driving dynamics aspire to be approachable to new, possibly less-skilled buyers. Product manager Donna Falconer describes the target customer as someone who will own fewer cars and hence use this one more often than 650S owners do. As such, it needs to be easier to get in and out of, to drive, and to interact with. Toward those ends, the new "Monocell II" carbon-fiber tub features lower sills that are easier to climb over. The doors open wider and higher, easing access without diminishing their supercar drama. There's a brand-new IRIS infotainment system controlled by a large vertical touchscreen, a more ergonomic dash, a cupholder (!), a larger 4.4-cubic-foot front trunk, and space behind the front seats for a set of golf clubs. A proper glove box, a deep center console bin, and in-door compartments boost interior storage. A high level of personalization will also be possible, including carbon-fiber-shell racing seats sized to fit. Oh, and a small fish-eye camera low on the front fascia will be able to record "Rendezvous"-like track videos.
And what of the running gear? The M838T E 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V-8 will be lightly detuned from the current 650S spec to produce 532 hp and 398 lb-ft on the entry-level 540C (for "Club") and 562 hp and 443 lb-ft for the 570S (for "Sport"). Interestingly, access to the engine is like in a Porsche Cayman—there's a hatch for fluid fills only. Removing the screens and panels covering the rest of the engine is a service procedure requiring tools. The transmission is essentially the same seven-speed twin-clutch box from the 650S, and the basic suspension geometry and setup will likely carry over, but with conventional anti-roll bars and fixed-rate shocks in place of the adaptive elements.
"Access to the engine is like in a Porsche Cayman -- there's a hatch for fluid fills only."
McLaren lists the dry weight as 37 pounds lighter than the 650S and promises both models will boast class-leading weight-to-power, enabling the 570S to accelerate to 100 mph a half-second quicker than a 911 Turbo S (that would make it 6.2 seconds, according to our figures), with 0-200 km/h (124 mph) happening 0.4 second quicker than in a Lambo Huracán (for 8.8 seconds). AWD launch traction will give these and other competitors an advantage off the line and through 60 mph, but then McLaren never competed in NHRA drag racing. Its cars shine on handling circuits.
These youngest heirs to the McLaren road-car throne will hit dealerships in the fourth quarter of 2015, first with the 570S, priced at about $185K. The 540C will likely follow in 2016, priced at $165K and featuring a less aggressive splitter and diffuser and different interior trim than on this 570S, which is decked out in optional carbon-fiber trim. (Those parts would otherwise be painted dark palladium.) That's $80K-$100K less than a 650S for a carbon-tubbed, mid-engine, track-focused car that looks a lot like a $1.15 million P1—and nothing like a million other 911s. The choice would be clear if I were the New York banker with the Monticello membership. Or that unsuspecting air molecule.
|2016 McLaren 540C & 570S|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Mid-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||3.8L/532-562-hp/417-450-lb-ft* twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto.|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,150-3,200 lb (mfr)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||174.0 x 75.4 x 47.0 in*|
|0-60 MPH||2.9-3.0 sec*|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||Not yet rated|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||Fourth quarter, 2015 (570S); early 2016 (540C)|