Yes, you have to concentrate when you’re driving; guide the car with more care and attention than in some of the others here and use the throttle a bit more judiciously. But even in the wet and on standard Corsa tyres no less, the McLaren’s grip level is dependable, its stability controls effective and its handling secure, communicative, delicate – and just
Which is to say nothing of what happens when you do use the
throttle a bit. Wow. Fans of performance numbers will already have worked out that the McLaren’s 418bhp per tonne is a 21% improvement on what a 911 Turbo S
gives you in full cry – and a 911
Turbo S is still a very fast car for
your princely £140k.
Unlike the Porsche, you have to allow the McLaren to rev a bit to really let it off the leash. So you
drop a couple of ratios in manual mode and squeeze the accelerator, rather than just mash the pedal, anything-goes style, as you can in the 911. But the 570S rewards you with a rate of acceleration that’s nothing short of stellar. It’s supercar level, really. I’d be amazed if a Ferrari 488 was much quicker.
The 570S’s brake pedal feel could and should be improved. It has racing car brakes (surprise, surprise), dead at the top of the travel and hard to modulate initially in a way that rivals with carbon-ceramic brakes have already moved beyond.
But in other ways, the McLaren shows just how much genuine supercar can now be bought for super-sports-car money – 911 Turbo money. The cat is most definitely among the pigeons here, and there are feathers everywhere.
Wednesday, 3.34pm: just off the A470, near Pen-y-Fan - We’re wrapping up. Motorists on Wales’ major north-south trunk road honk, wave and, in some cases, swear at four morons in a roadside car park standing beside their flashy motors in the gathering gloom and cold. By the time Cackett asks me for the finishing order of these four cars,
my mind is made up about the sharp end, but it’s separating the runners-up that’s hard.
The biggest underachiever is easy, although that tag doesn’t do the car justice. Everyone expected more from the R8: a more tactile drive, greater dynamic roundedness and greater usability. The powertrain is awesome, but the four-wheel-drive chassis fails to deliver either the handling security or panache to really distinguish it on the road. More varied tests will come but, for now, the R8 still has it all to prove.
The Vantage feels as though it has been around for so long that it can have absolutely nothing left to prove – and in V12 S form, it remains a rough diamond. It offers simplicity, luxury and pure mechanical charisma as an alternative to the bamboozling complexity of its rivals, and although it isn’t on the same sporting level as the best dynamic acts here, it would always be an absorbing, disarming, enjoyable car to drive. Worth a podium place? Just about, I reckon.
And then? Both the 911 Turbo S
and the 570S would make a deserving winner here. The Porsche is still absolutely untouchable in its own niche. Nothing else will take apart a streaming, slippery cross-country B-road with the same fluency, stability, user-friendliness and easy precision as it does, or cope better with the real world. In the past, I’ve never really understood the 911 Turbo. After a couple of miserable, wonderful days in Wales, I think I get it. There’s certainly nothing else like it.
But I also wonder if the car-loving world isn’t moving beyond it now – if everyone who is in or has been in the market for the ultimate, pragmatically minded, everyday super-sports car hasn’t owned at least one 911 Turbo already and
may now be looking for something
a bit different.