Even today, when fresh dynamic boundaries are found and bulldozed flat on an almost daily basis by each new supercar, it is rare indeed to drive a car that feels completely different. But the McLaren 570S does, and for reasons that are not immediately clear.
But just occasionally a car is built that, through some confluence of circumstances, seems not just superior to the sum of its parts but better, you suspect, than even its makers intended it to be.
I could come up with some superficially plausible explanation for this serendipitous turn of events, banging on portentously about the bump and rebound rates chosen for its shock absorbers, but the truth is that I don’t know why every time I drive a 570S, it starts stimulating the neural pleasure centres like almost nothing else bearing a number plate. But it doesn’t matter; all that matters is that it does.
The fact that it is jaw-on-the-floor beautiful helps. It puts you in the right frame of mind. As does the fact that its acceleration is fairly berserk. This may be the junior McLaren, but do not mistake that for McLaren-lite. For sheer grunt, the 911 GT3 RS would get nowhere near it.
But these are merely contributing factors; they are not why this car feels different. What might be its single greatest achievement is that you don’t have to drive it fast on empty mountain roads to enjoy it. Even if you’re toddling along in everyday traffic on everyday country roads, it feels fabulous. You can sense the stiffness of the structure and the superbly rigid platform it provides for the suspension to act upon. You can feel the road through your body, its most intimate details through your fingers. Astonishingly, in its keenness to return that sense of involvement and control to the driver, this most modern supercar can actually seem quite traditional and is all the better for that.
If you can find a stretch of road where it can be driven in rough approximation to its makers’ intentions, it will boil your mind. Where you wrestle a GT3 RS, you guide the 570S with your fingertips, goggling at the delicacy, nuance and outrageous ability of this most precise of precision instruments. And this is the McLaren without the clever active suspension, yet its body control in such circumstances is other-worldly.
Whether it is because of its passive suspension, its slightly narrower contact patch or just ongoing McLaren development, there’s no doubt in my mind that, to the discerning driver, this is actually a superior driving machine to a 650S, not to mention prettier and a substantial slug less expensive.
Those are all the reasons we need to name it our favourite car on sale today and one, we feel, that is going to take a hell of a lot of beating.
Do you agree?
We’ve named our favourite car on sale; now it’s your turn. Visit autocar.co.uk/top50 to vote for your favourite car from the 50 listed here. The winner will be announced at the relaunched Autocar Awards at Silverstone on 24 May.
Read the rest:
Top 50 cars on sale today: 50-26
Top 50 cars on sale today: 25-6
Bottom 10 cars on sale today
Andrew Frankel, Matt Prior, Matt Saunders and Nic Cackett