What McLaren has achieved with its road car programme in five short years is nothing short of remarkable. Since the birth of McLaren Automobiles, the British supercar maker has rapidly become a force to be reckoned with, taking on the very best from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche – and in many cases winning.
This year the firm introduced a new baby to its range. Designed to take on the Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo, the 570S sits at the bottom of the maker's line-up – but don't be fooled into thinking this is any less of a McLaren than its siblings. It's hard not to be confused by McLaren's model structure, so let us explain.
At the bottom is this, the 570S, which sits in its Sports Series, along with the 570GT.
Above them, in the Super Series, is the 650S (previously the MP4 12C) and the 675LT.
And at the top of the tree is the Ultimate Series, occupied by the P1. Got it? Good. It's easy to forget the 570S's position at the bottom of the McLaren price list, though, as soon as you hit the road. This feels like no entry-level model you've ever tried before. We're testing the £143,250 machine on some of the greatest British roads you'll find. A slither of asphalt that snakes its way through north Welsh moors, dry-stone-walled farmyards and evergreen-tree-lined straights. The roads are empty, Wales is at work, and so too are the McLaren and I.
On the road it rifles through its twin-clutch automatic gearbox, swapping cogs in milliseconds and relentlessly charging towards the horizon. The driving position is as close to perfection as you can get. The steering wheel can be pulled close to your chest, while you sit low-slung in the seat. It feels like a racing position and makes fast- paced driving wonderfully involving.
The 570S is designed to be more of a daily driver and not to be tucked away for high days and holidays – think Porsche 911 levels of usability. It helps that it's pretty practical. There's space behind the rear seats for small items of luggage and enough boot space up front for two for a weekend away.
Where the McLaren does let itself down, though, is with its infotainment system. It's clunky, slow and buggy. Our test car thought it was 1970, often refused to start the radio and was painfully slow to switch between functions. It's here where you realise that a five-year-old car company still has a few things to learn...
What it lacks in electronic refinery, though, it more than makes up for on the road.
It's thrilling to drive and, on these Welsh roads, intoxicatingly addictive.
It piles on speed with unbelievable pace while there's no real drama to the soundtrack, just whooshes and sucking as it gulps down air, flinging you headfirst onwards. It's wonderfully composed – the chassis communicative, the steering incredibly direct and dainty.
There's little doubt this is one of the most accomplished McLarens the firm has produced to date. Not only is it utterly stunning to look at – not classically beautiful, but visually arresting enough to have passers-by stopping in their tracks – it's exciting enough from behind the wheel to make you forget it's the cheapest in the range, too. In fact, look at it a different way and you could argue this is a relative bargain. It's around £100 more expensive than a 911 Turbo but comes with far more kerb appeal and arguably just as much excitement, if not more. Not bad for a car company that's just out of playschool.
Engine: 3.8-litre, twin turbo
Power: 562bhp, 600NM
Max speed: 204mph
0-60mph: 3.1 seconds