2016/11/02

McLaren And The Fun Police: What Good Is A Supercar If You Can't Properly Exercise It?

McLaren-YouAreOverTheSpeedLimitThe rumble of the engine in the McLaren 570S is a low, throaty growl that sends shivers down your spine.

Mounted just behind the driver’s seat, the 562-horsepower 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 is like a monster at your back, ready to pounce. The sound simultaneously delights and terrifies you.
But if you dare to drive this $229,000 supercar on public roads, prepare yourself for what you’ll hear next: a nagging baritone voice warning, “You are over the speed limit.”
It’s impossible not to go fast in this car: its powerful engine combined with a lightweight carbon fiber chassis makes it fly. With a zero-to-60 time of just 3.2 seconds, the McLaren 570S is exhilarating and addictive.

It’s a cruel irony, then, that the model the British carmaker calls “the most day-to-day usable, practical and attainable McLaren” it’s ever made comes with a nagging wing man who doesn’t quit trying to bring you down to earth.

He was there in the leafy suburbs of Detroit, where the car’s GPS system detected a 35 mph speed limit, and again on the freeway, when all I wanted to do was stomp on the accelerator and feel the thrill of going 204 mph, the McLaren’s top speed. ”You are over the speed limit.” Oh, shut up.
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 The 570S, launched in late 2015, is McLaren’s “high-volume” model, if you can call it that. The brand only plans to sell 1,100 cars this year. McLaren has been associated with high-performance sports cars for over 50 years, starting with Bruce McLaren’s high-profile win as a Ford GT40 driver at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. In 2010, McLaren Automotive split off from McLaren Racing to produce high-performance “street cars” like the 12C, 12C Spider and limited-edition P1 supercar. Earlier this year, McLaren announced plans to invest more than $1 billion to launch 15 all-new cars or derivatives, half of them hybrids, by 2022. An all-electric model is also possible.

The 570S is part of the newly created Sports Series, which includes the 570 GT and next year’s 570 Spyder. McLaren calls it their everyday supercar, a rival to the Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo. They made it easier to get in and out of, by redesigning the striking dihedral doors and lowering the sill to swing your feet in or out of the cabin. Frankly, it’s still difficult to get in and out, but once you’re situated, it’s incredibly comfortable, with excellent ergonomics and visibility.

It’s just that annoying voice that spoils the experience. “You’re over the speed limit.” Be quiet.

As with most technology features, you can turn it off, but I needed a McLaren representative to walk me through the procedure.

As undeniably fun as the McLaren 570S is to drive, I found myself wondering whether there’s really any market for an “everyday” supercar. Unless you have access to a track, there’s very little opportunity to drive it the way it begs to be driven. It’s like getting a toy for Christmas that you can’t play with. Just leave it in the box — or the garage — and look at it.

Of course, it’s so tempting. Maybe, if you’re extra-super-careful, you can take it out and play for just a few minutes. But pay attention to that voice in your head, or you might get caught.

Follow me on Twitter @JoannMuller
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