Supercar ownership is built on dreams, dreams car enthusiasts have had swirling in their heads for years which might someday take on the form of reality. This is a tale of what happens when everything is in alignment and the universe throws you a comet, in other words, why my (our) first Ferrari is a McLaren.
My husband and I are fortunate we both have the car gene, doubly fortunate our aesthetic preferences align. For us the supercar dream has always been a Ferrari. We’ve always had an affinity for the iconic stallion, though never in red. Giallo (yellow) or TDF Blue is our palette. Over the years we’ve watched as new model after new model comes out falling in love with each one, while we love the vintage models, its like reaching for a cloud, they just seem to go higher and higher. We settled on a Ferrari 458 Italia, what was to be our first Ferrari. We had driven many and finally found the exact car.
Then my husband said, “you’ve always wanted to drive a McLaren, we never have, the reviews looked good, before we buy the Ferrari lets drive one.” I read up everything I could find within a few days and having never driven one said, “its a sleeper, it may surprise us.”
We set up a test drive of a Mantis Green 570S and White 570GT, he went first, then me. We said nothing in between. Our test drives were in pouring rain, which in fairness is not a bad way to test drive a powerful 562 bhp V8 twin turbo. It wasn’t just the P-Zero’s (we’ve had those before), the McLaren proved grippy and fully settled on a wet road. Hmmm. Both were brand new, and less money than the 3 year old, 7,000+ mile Ferrari. Hmmm. They were also comfortable, easy to get acquainted with and fun as hell to drive. We were impressed.
Five days later we drove the 458 we had intended to buy. I looked it over thoroughly at the dealership with my eagle eye, in fairness the car looked and smelled like new. However, if there is a flaw, I’ll find it. He drove it, then I did. It drove, like a Ferrari. Again, we didn’t say much. It was my husband’s dream car. How could this be, we can have a Ferrari but now, I don’t want one. I bit my tongue (tough), I couldn’t tell him I like the McLaren better. But he wasn’t making the deal-talk with the sales guy, instead he politely mentioned we’d think about it, then turned to me and said, “let’s go to McLaren, its right down the street.”
We walked in and before the door closed, the moon and stars lined up and there sat the most spectacular Blue 570S, specified exactly how we would want it.
The dash and the technology on the McLaren is perfection. Everything is clear, easy to see and easy to use, and up to date. On the Ferrari, the gauges are squished in front of the driver, the passenger or navigator has no way to read the NAV or anything else. After I first saw it, the floating middle console never left my mind, its so smart. The best description of the tech and layout inside the McLaren is it is like something Steve Jobs would have come up with, clean, visually appealing, savvy and intuitive.
The 570S is a car you can get in and drive, no mental retraining as to how things normally work. Sorry but I don’t need all those controls on a steering wheel. Normal Sport and Track modes are easily accessible in the center floor console, but there’s more you can adjust both the drivetrain and chassis, individually or together.
Supercars in general aren’t known for comfortable seating or interior ergonomics, the McLaren achieves both. After my first sit and subsequent drive, neither my rear or my back hurt after I got in or out of the McLaren, this was pure heaven!
The lines of a McLaren are so unique. Every body panel shape and curve has a purpose, more than just a pretty skin. The car is engineered to harness and control air. The flying buttress works to increase downforce and eliminate the need for a wing or tail. Those carved out sections in the door direct air to cool the mid-engine V8. What’s not to like about dihedral doors? Okay this is something you have to learn, how to open the door, with no visual door handle and get in and out of the car gracefully.
In terms of design, look around the car, the McLaren speedmark makes a number of subtle appearances on the car, front to back, inside and out.
In the McLaren you can get in and go, really go, or just go comfortably. The car is intuitive, controls are where you need them, yes, its mind-blowing fast supercar, but it inspires confidence. The automatic shift points are perfection, but if you want to use the paddle shifters they are, dare I say, effortless.
Where the Ferrari fell short: driving, technology, noise and finish.
We aren’t fans of excessive road noise, because we like to travel with and drive our cars. Some might say, then get a GT (Grand Touring) car. Why? With a McLaren we don’t have to. Whether it is better insulated or just the huge carbon fiber Mono Cell one is sitting in, the car is relatively quiet.
Here was the kiss of death for the Ferrari, as we drove down Pacific Coast Highway you could hear the sand hitting the underside of the car! Sand, teeny tiny grains of sand! If that wasn’t a WTF moment.
Finally the fit and finish of the McLaren is superior. The aluminum body panels are precise from side to side and the paint quality is some of the best I’ve ever seen. (If you didn’t know, I grew up in a body shop.) This is where my eagle eye found many flaws in the Ferrari, and not from a re-spray. I’d seen it before, the slight wavering of almost an orange peel in the factory finish on new cars.
For this level of car our expectations are perfection and the McLaren delivered, the Ferrari did not. While it is much easier to say no to something you can’t have than to say no when the dream is sitting right in front of you, it is so much more empowering. As much as we wanted a Ferrari, we are thrilled with the McLaren 570S.
Let’s return to my gut feeling before ever having driven the car, the McLaren is a sleeper, people do not realize what this rare beast can deliver. It is efficient, enjoyable, well designed and comparably under-priced for what you are getting.