You’ll soon know its name: The stunning new $180000 McLaren sports car …

31 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2016 McLaren 570S: The First Sports Series Model Has Arrived.

If actors like Chris Pine finally get their first blockbuster role (“Star Trek”), and technology companies like Apple eventually design their breakout product (the iPod), any great car company will step up and create the car model that will make itself known to the world.It is intended as a competitor for the Audi R8, the Porsche 911, and the Ferrari California—zippy roadsters meant to be driven on actual roads, not tracks.

But lest you think McLaren is a pipsqueak startup still rolling on training wheels, know that McLaren has been a dominant force in Formula One and other forms of automobile racing for more than half a century. It will retail for an estimated $180,000, which is a pretty penny but a far cry from the $349,500 675LT supercar they unveiled a month ago at the Geneva Motor Show. (The pricing puts it well above the Audi and Porsche but just under the comparable Ferrari.) I got up close with the car back in January, in a single-story brick building on the outskirts of a London suburb. Yet since it threw itself full tilt into building road cars as McLaren Automotive in 2011—there was the indelible F1 a couple of decades back, of course—it has existed in a sort of gauzy haze, largely unknown and irrelevant to mere mortals. But even with that slight reduction in power, the 570S can still crack off a 0-62 MPH run of 3.2 seconds and hit 124 MPH in 9.5 seconds on its way to a 204 MPH top speed.

It was hidden in a major photography studio there, and when I entered a camera guy whispered to me, “Madonna shot her last video here.” In person, the mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive V8 coupe looks lean and curvaceous—not too different from its supercar forebears. The 180-pound carbon fiber MonoCell II chassis helps keep the weight down and the rigidity up, and partnered with lots of aluminum, McLaren claims a dry weight of 2,895 pounds – around 300 pounds less than a 911 Turbo. With its carbon fiber chassis it weighs just over 2,800 pounds, has 562hp, and a sprint time of 3.2 seconds—fast enough to beat a Porsche 911 S to 60mph by more than a second. Its face can only be described as extreme, clearly evocative of both of McLaren’s intense (and even more expensive) 650S and P1 models, but with more geometric headlamps. Robert Melville, McLaren’s head of design, said they’ve “taken every opportunity to increase the stowage.” The interior feels more spacious and comfortable, as well.

Everything is done for a reason.” McLaren says that the 570S is the first car in its segment to combine rear-wheel drive, a mid-engine layout, and a carbon-fiber structure. To access its campus in Woking, England, you must pass through well-manned safety gates and long corridors locked on each end by glass tube elevators.

And out back, the black-tinted taillamps, a deep lower diffuser and the utter absence of a rear bumper cover create one of the most sinister-looking rear views in the entire automobile world. UPDATE: McLaren said at its press conference in New York tonight that another, lower-powered variant, the 540S, will debut in Shanghai for the Chinese market. Security cameras abound. “We enter through white space to cleanse our mind,” a flack says as we descend a spiral staircase and walk quickly through a stark hallway. The blackout door graphic is distinct—a stylized McLaren kiwi?—and doubles as the air intake, while above the waistline are more intakes and a flying buttress that directs air over the engine-bay heat extractors.

The car is held up off its 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels by double wishbones front and rear, with computer adjustable shocks and three handling settings. Inside, workers on a pristine assembly floor follow strict hours building 1,750 McLarens a year. (By 2016 they’ll make 3,000 and eventually make 4,000 each year, says the company’s chief executive officer, Mike Flewitt). Upon release of the model, I wager that the name “McLaren” will become much more widely known among the type of affluent Americans who only equate it with upscale baby strollers. (That brand is spelled Maclaren, by the way.) In one form or another the company has been around since the 1960s, when a New Zealand racer named Bruce McLaren began a racing team that would eventually win one Formula One race after another.

The job is considered desirable among the locals, and for good reason: Employees get multiple cigarette, tea, and biscuit breaks each day, access to an underground pool and gym, and privileges at a company restaurant festooned with olive trees. It’s as silent as a museum—which is fitting, because the company’s chairman, Ron Dennis, commissioned his favorite Romanian artist to create glass sculptures that line the interior. The car gets 562 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque from its twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8, which has been dubbed M838TE, with the E standing for “evolution.” The V-8, like the monocoque, is derived from that of the 650S with a few hardware and software changes, including an all-new exhaust system. The McLaren Group has since flirted with road cars, including the superlative F1 supercar in the 1990s and a Mercedes-Benz partnership in 2003, when it co-created the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren in 2003. Wheels measure 19 inches in diameter up front and 20 inches in back, and they’re wrapped with sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa rubber sized 225/35 and 285/35, respectively.

Of particular interest to us is how the control-arm adaptive suspension will perform under extreme duress, given that the new car does without the 650’s more sophisticated, fully active suspension. The prospects of the 540C are in doubt for American buyers, but we’d suggest anyone who might be satisfied with that lesser model take a gander at the 570S’s performance estimates. McLaren’s chief designer, a young Brit named Robert Melville, says he took inspiration from the Blackbird spy plane. “We wanted to layer the car, so the air flows through the body, not just around it,” he told me. “We learned a lot of lessons from the P1. If you look carefully at the 570S, you can literally follow the journey of the air around the car.” Melville is tall and was wearing a perfectly cut suit. But at the end of the year McLaren-Honda announced an auspicious development, signing two of the league’s premier drivers—Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button—to drive in 2015.

McLaren also promises generous interior storage and best-in-class luggage space. “This is going to be the most attainable and usable McLaren to date,” said Donna Falconer, product manager for the Sport Series. “We recognize that in this segment of the market, customers use their cars in slightly different ways, so we’ve taken that into account in design and specification.” This is not to say, however, that McLaren dumbed it down for daily use, she said. “This [car] brings in all of the learnings of our previous few years as a car company, our racing teams and our GT teams, and put that learning into the technology and the performance of this car…it was designed around the driver and externally sculpted by the air. Falconer promises that the Sports Series cars were designed to be used every day—and as such will come with an “extremely comprehensive” level of standard equipment, including a large TFT instrument panel, a seven-inch infotainment display, and extended leather upholstery on the 570S, which also features a claimed best-in-class luggage capacity. “We know we’re going to have customers that want race-ready versions of this car, so we have all the options for them to do that. The 570S goes on sale here later this year, and to give its competitors a real run for their exotic car money, a convertible is expected to join the lineup, too. Since then McLaren has opened 72 dealerships in 32 markets worldwide and has introduced a new model every year, including the $1.2 million P1. (That car sold out in 5 months flat—and none of the people who bought it even test-drove it first.) Executives say the company was comfortably profitable in 2014, though they declined to specify by how much. And they know there’s plenty of room to expand. “In China the typical luxury sports car buyer is in their early 20s and their first car is something like a McLaren,” Flewitt told me.

Its bosses believe that the SUV gives a false sense of security and removes incentive to innovate across the board. “There is no product range that makes you immune to economic cycles,” Flewitt said. “We are a sports car company, pure and simple.

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