Congratulations: You won the lottery! No, not the Bill-Gates-is-poor-compared-to-me super jackpot—just your regular multimillion-dollar kind of thing. Plenty of money to buy a dream car. So what are you going to drive?
It’s a surprisingly complicated question. You’ve got some money to indulge, but you don’t want to blow the stack and become one of those people who sheepishly goes back to work two years after hitting the jackpot. (Plus, nobody wants to hear “I told you not to buy all those manatees” and “You know that submarines require expensive crews, right” all the time.) You want a car that’s wild, yet financially sane.
You want a McLaren 570S Spider.
Hear me out on this. A McLaren 570S is, in a certain rarified context, a sensible buy. The Spider starts at $211,300, which is a lot! But in context, it’s only $7,250 more than a Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, another dream ride you might consider. And that price difference might narrow once you start adding options, because McLaren’s option pricing seems imminently reasonable. For instance, a front-end lift system for clearing steep driveways at the chalet runs $1,560 on the McLaren and $2,590 on the Porsche. A bargain, I say!
And with all due respect to Porsche’s everyday wundercar, a 570S is a different animal than a 911. Porsche has sold more than a million 911s. Spotting a McLaren—mid-engine, carbon tub, wild dihedral doors—is an event. The 570S Spider is a bona fide exotic for a super-expensive-sports-car price. A steal.
One 570S owner put it to me this way: for the difference in price between a 570S and the next echelon of mid-engine hotness (say, McLaren 720S or Ferrari 488 GTB), you could get both a 570S and the new mid-engine Corvette, whenever that’s available. See? Financial restraint, thy name is 570S.
And the McLaren is excellent to drive. When you run up through the gears of the seven-speed dual-clutch sequential manual transmission, you can’t imagine anything is much quicker. The yelp of the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 isn’t as goose-bumpy as a V10 Lamborghini, but it sure as hell doesn’t sound like anything else in the Kohl’s parking lot.
The 570S is compact, feathery light, and comes packing 562 horsepower. It’s sort of like what would happen if Porsche stuffed the 911 Turbo engine into a Boxster—you will be engaged in the driving experience, because you have no choice. This isn’t a fat-tired downforce-monster track special that needs to go 150 mph before it feels alive. The 570S moves around and lets you know that it’s got all the power you’d want for something that tips the scales at barely more than 3,000 pounds. The 570S isn’t even supposed to be a straight-line hero, but it’ll trash most anything on the road in a drag race. And it does 204 mph. That’s with the roof up.
The roof goes down in 15 seconds, folding itself into a little cubby behind the seats (where, roof up, you can also store small items you want to stash out of sight). You can also drop the roof while moving, which turns out to be an important capability when the light turns green and you’re five seconds into top-retraction. You can also back the car up with the doors open, if you want to sit on the doorsill and lean out the car while looking over your shoulder. Sure, there’s a backup camera, but don’t you want to feel like Balboni parking a Countach in Sant’Agata circa 1988? Yes, you do. Never mind that it’s a different company. You’ve got the right kind of doors!
Ah, the doors. I love the doors. While McLaren calls them “dihedral,” most bystanders will use the Genius definition and refer to them as “Lambo doors.” Which is ironic, given that the most comparable Lamborghini, the Huracan, doesn’t have Lambo doors. You have to step to the Aventador for those, and that’s a large step indeed—one that would cut deeply into your manatee budget.
The only other car with the fun doors that comes in near this price is the BMW i8, which is a beautiful design exercise but not of the 570’s performance realm. Generally, these doors connote machines that cost much more than a 570S, as evidenced by the billionaire tech doofus on HBO’s Silicon Valley, who throws a fit when his net worth dips into the nine-figure range because he needs to afford a McLaren with dihedral doors. “These are not the doors of a billionaire!” he cries as he climbs into his new Maserati.
But you don’t need to be a billionaire to afford a 570S. You could live at home with your mom and spend your whole salary on a lease—$1,749 for 47 months, per a dealer ad for a new coupe—or you could be successfully retired and choosing between this and three Corvettes. Or you could’ve won the lottery, but just enough so you don’t make the news over it.
In any case, the 570S is the definitive point of diminishing returns when it comes to exotic cars. There are cars that are sexier or faster, but not by much. And whether those cars are actually any more fun is debatable.
More likely to score a prime spot with the valet in Miami? Possibly. But it’s hard to have more fun than this. No matter how much you spend.