The fact that I was even allowed to drive a McLaren is still blowing my mind 4 weeks later. I drove a freaking McLaren. A dream I’ve had since I was a 9 year old kid as I vacantly stared into the void-in-my-soul that is the McLaren F1 I will never own, came true. Though it wasn’t the world beating, manual shifting, center-mounted seat of the aforementioned F1, the 570GT did not disappoint by any stretch of the imagination
Being in an automotive press association has it’s benefits: you make great contacts within the industry, you meet very interesting people that even become good friends, and you get access to things many auto addicts only dream about. Case in point, the entire Shifting Lanes crew are members of the International Motor Press Association, or IMPA for short. It’s sounds much fancier that it is. It’s really a northeastern US localized association, but anyone is welcome to join. Hell, Mike Spinelli used to be the president of IMPA and he’s pretty international these days. He’s still a member.
Each year at Monticello Motor Club, IMPA gathers cars from many different and diverse automakers where members can drive pretty much anything they want. This year it just so happened that McLaren made their first ever appearance at the event and was there for one day only. I arrived 2 hours early and had to wait to get on the premises.
The car McLaren brought is one they are quite excited about. It’s the softest car they’ve ever made and they’re hoping to attract a new audience with what their definition of a grand tourer. Of course, if you’re a proper McLaren fan boy like I am you know that means the 570GT which is part of their sports series lineup that includes the GT, the 570S, and 540C that we don’t get in the US. So what’s it like to drive a grand touring McLaren?
IT’S NOT SCARY, BUT IT’S TO BE RESPECTED
You climb into this thing. You do not step. It’s a carbon fiber tub that seems to be 1″ off the ground. It’s only slightly higher. As soon as you’re in and adjust the seat you feel like a pilot. A sloped nose that drops out of sight, excellent visibility out the front, piss poor visibility out the rear, leather everywhere, buttons turning on get-in-trouble mode. Oh yes, it’s all there. Once it all becomes clear that this is no ordinary car, fear may sink in. “Oh shit, what happens if i crash this thing?” Don’t let it put you in a place where your head becomes foggy. It’s not a scary car, but the 570GT has so much power and performance that you can get in serious trouble very fast without even thinking about it.
You need to respect a car like the 570GT. You need to respect the speed, the luxury, the exclusivity. This isn’t a car that should be taken for granted in any way. Respect the speed, the performance, the driving position, which is absolute perfection. Respect the lineage, the heritage, the cost. Respect the attention to detail, the color (pacific blue), the experience. Respect the car as a whole and it will give you everything you’ve ever wanted back in triplicate.
IT RE-CALIBRATES YOUR DEFINITION OF SPEED
If you’ve never driven a supercar before, you will not be prepared to know what the 570GT feels like. Sports cars are not this fast, though McLaren calls the Sports Series, headed up by the 570, a sports car. McLaren is wrong to do so, but we’ll get to that later. You just cannot fathom this. So let’s start slow. You set the Active Dynamics Panel, McLaren’s traction and performance system on the center stack, to it’s softest setting and you glide along the pavement in total comfort. The engine still sounds loud, but this isn’t a grand touring Maybach, it’s still a supercar. It’s loud, but not so much so that you think you’re wearing ear phones plugged into an iPod with the engine sound on repeat.
Fast loses all meaning until you step into a supercar of this caliber. I drive, as many of you know, a Subaru WRX. Which, all things considered, is not a slow car. Any car that goes from 0-60 in under 5 seconds is quick. It’s handling is very good and far better than your run-of-the-mill family sedan. But this car, my god, you don’t know. You just don’t have any fucking idea. You get in, mash the go pedal, and might as well be saying “engage” to Will goddamn Ryker. My definition of speed is officially ruined forever.
You know, until I get in a 675LT or P1 or something. Hint hint, McLaren.
IF YOU EVER BUY A SUPERCAR, DON’T GET A LIGHT COLORED INTERIOR
I’ve been in many cars with tan interiors. My own mother owned a BMW 525i from 1992-2007 and it had a tan interior. Yes, it got dirty. This particular McLaren 570GT has a cream interior. I get that this is a press car, but holy hell was it ever filthy. It wasn’t brown or yucky, but the marks from jeans and other things were very noticeable and only after a few thousand miles. Of course this is a simple fix and you could just order the car with a black interior. But just remember that for every time you see a pristine, with/cream/tan interior at an auto show or at a dealership, there is a car out there with the same scheme that has a blue tint to the leather and carpeting that just looks off.
IT’S DESIRABLE, BUT APPROACHABLE
Here’s the thing about this car. On one hand it’s unattainable for nearly all people from a pure fiscal perspective. Yet, you see it on the road, know it’s a McLaren, know you can never have it, and think, “I’d like to go drive that.” The P1 or another hypercar, or even other supercars like the 675LT or 488GTB, can be looked at and thought about in the I’d-probably-kill-myself-in-that mindset. I know I’ve seen a 675LT in person, sat in it, and said those exact words. That thought never once crossedmy mind in the 570GT. Yes, according to the video I said I could get myself in a lot of trouble, but never in the way that the car was trying to kill me.
If I wanted the best of every world without all the bat-shit-crazy, upper end, “if you scratch this I’m going to go to jail because I’m murdering you” thoughts, then the 570GT is your go to supercar.
IF THIS IS A “SPORTS CAR” MCLAREN IS THE GREATEST CAR MAKER OF ALL TIME
This, to McLaren, is defined as a sports car. That, in an of itself, is nuts. McLaren has lost is damn mind. This is not a sports car. Neither is the 540c. Neither is the 570s. They are flat out lying to you. These are all supercars. To call them anything else is just wrong.
My WRX, though many will disagree, is a sports car. The Subaru BRZ is a sports car. A base 911, is a sports car. An Alfa 4C is a sports car, though that’s borderline. This is a supercar. The fact that McLaren calls their sport series of cars sports cars, makes me love them even more.
Bravo you gloriously mad bastards.
I WANT IT AND EVERY OTHER MCLAREN EVER MADE
Now. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Right now. Come on Mega Millions, I’m feeling lucky tonight.