In the middle of a desert, a fleet of gorgeous supercars satÂ patiently, awaiting the next slightly hungover bachelor party, or group of corporate khaki-wearers. Yet, I could feel the unmistakable sense of powerÂ as I arrived at Exotics Racing in Las Vegas. These beasts waited to be unchained by a capable driver.
Exotics RacingÂ isÂ the brainchild of stunt driver and former Euro NASCAR champion Romain Thievin.
“I started with almost nothing,” says Thievin. “And now, I own over 50Â exotic cars.”
With locations outside of Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Exotics Racing is the perfectÂ place forÂ pleated Dockers-wearing cubicle dwellers to have team-building events. Thievin’s fleet includes everything from Lamborghini Huracans to Audi R8s to Porsche 991 GT3s. But when I called Exotics Racing to let them know I was in town, Thievin and his team insisted that I drive the latest addition to their impressive fleet.
Behold, the McLaren 570S.
Despite being an “entry-level” model for McLaren, the 570S is downright fast.
Powered by a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 engine, the baby Macca kicks out 562 horsepower and 443 lbs-ft of torque, propelling the 570S to 124 miles per hourÂ in less than 10 seconds. Holy mother of God. There’s nothing entry-level about that.
It’s rear-wheel-driveÂ only, so the launch isn’t as strong as some other cars in its class, but it makes up for it as you continue on pastÂ 100 mph. It doesn’t have as much carbon fiber construction as a typical McLaren, but that doesn’t matter â€” it still has the best power-to-weight ratio in its class.Â And although the 570S is intended to be more streetable than its siblings, the 650S and 675LT, it’s plenty capable on track in its own right.
“We had lots of problems with the MP4,” Thievin told me. “So much so that we pulled it from our fleet. But the 570S has been perfect. Incredibly reliable, and just as fast as anything else we have out there.” That spokeÂ to McLaren’s desire to have the 570S provide a supercar driving experience, yet be reliable enough to drive every day, should you choose to do so. The typical 570S driver might use it as a second car â€” not a tenth car.
Exotics Racing set me up with an open-faced helmet and an instructor named Mark to rideÂ right seat with me. Mark gave me a quick tour of the interior features of the 570S, and then we were set to take on the 1.2 mile circuit that Exotics Racing uses for itsÂ supercar experience.
The Exotics Racing people have done a marvelous job of taking what was essentially a section of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway parking lot and turning it into a genuinely compelling circuit with 11-percent banking in turn one and elevation changes into turn three. The main straight, at 1800 feet in length, gives you the chance to really experience some top speed in the supercar of your choice.
So how did the 570S and I do? Watch the video to find out.
Maybe you’re sitting at work and you can’t watch the video? Fine. I’ll describe what happened.
First of all, Mark was a fantastic instructor, and I was a good student â€” meaning that he wanted me to brake much earlier for most turns than I thought was appropriate,Â and he wouldn’t let me unwind onto the curbing. The carbonÂ brakes of the 570S were capable of standing the car on its nose at a moment’s notice, but the car has to survive a dozen drivers a day, so I understand his reluctance to let me use the brakesÂ to their full potential.
Also, in the pre-drive briefing, we were told that any excursion onto the blue sections of the track meant an immediate end to our day. So I followed Mark’s every instruction â€” which, if you watched the video, you’ll know was explicit and frequent.
Regardless, the McLaren still kicked much ass. At the end of the 1800 foot straightway, the 570S was nosing past 130 mphÂ with ease, and had no difficulty maintaining steady cornering speeds of nearly 70 mph. I had a tendency to trail brake a little more than was necessary, perhaps having been mentally programmed by my last mid-engined supercar track experience in the NSX.Â After turn one, I figured out that I could just brake in a straight line and then roll the throttle back on as soon as possible.
Where the NSX understeers, the 570S will happily kick the tail out and slide through turns. It’s incredibly neutral mid-corner, and I probably could have applied throttle much more quickly in most turns. The car had no problem taking my crude inputs and translating them into a smooth corner exit. I was genuinely surprised to find out that the 570S has no locking differential â€” the ESC makes it fantasticallyÂ easy to put the power down.
The seven-speed automatic transmission was the best I’d ever used. The paddles worked flawlessly as the engineÂ matchedÂ revs seamlessly as I downshifted twice for turn one. Lesser transmissions might have locked up the rear wheels and sent me into a tailspin, but not the McLaren’s.
Steering feel is unlike anything I’ve driven. Where the NSX and the R8 can be numb, the 570S communicated directly to me in my language. Oversteer, when it happened, was predictable and easy to manage. I never experienced anything remotely like “understeer,” which is somewhat remarkable for a mid-engined car.
My lap times were remarkably consistent â€” all within about a half a second of each other. I think that there was a lot more time to be had from the car, but my five laps went by in a blur. I only wish I had another five laps in the car by myself to find out how hard I really could have braked into the turns. I think that there was another 5 mph in every turn, at least.
Nothing else on track had pace for it; we ate up every other car on track and spit it out. Granted, I think the other drivers on track were mostly retirees who were afraid of the gas pedal, but I still think the 570S would have been more than a match most of the metal on hand.
So what does it compare with? Frankly, it embarrasses anything else in its price class. At about $185,000, this car is slotting against the other aforementioned mid-engine cars in its class, like the R8 and NSX. Good luck keeping the 570S in your sights in either of those cars. Even the 911 Turbo S would struggle to keep up. No, it doesn’t have the all-wheel driveÂ needed to launch with those cars, but you won’t care at all after the first 60Â feet. The 570S punches well above its weight class, competing more with the rear-wheel-driveÂ Huracan.
Yes, the 570S is intended to be road-oriented, more so than the 650S, but it does double duty better than any other car I’ve driven. I only wish that I’d had the opportunity to take it out to the street and hoon it around a bit, because McLaren would tell you that this car isn’t supposed to be a track tool, that it’s not intended to set record lap times.
Who cares? Whether it’s intended to be a track tool or not, it is a magnificent, delightful scalpel. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Las Vegas, you owe it to yourself to find $400 and experience this car. Sure, you could gamble it away on the tables, but why not spend it on a sure thing?
Exotics Racing provided the entire experience, including five laps in the McLaren 570S.