The World’s Slowest Fast-Car Review: The 2018 McLaren 570S Spider in New York City
Of course you CAN have a drop-dead sexy, $200,000 speed machine in the Big Apple—but should you?
New York City and supercars are similar in that the upside is way up—the best of mostly everything, a showy sort of exoticism, and enough thrills to kill you if you aren't careful, or sometimes, even if you are. But benefits like that never come without cost, and that cost is compromise. In a 2018 McLaren 570S Spider, for example, the price you pay for a sensuous bit of British supercar magic with an uproariously enchanting 562-hp twin-turbo V8 and a three-second sprint to 60 mph, is a complete lack of storage space for either people or gear, some inscrutable electronics—trying to figure out how to put the top down without using the owner's manual, which is an intuitive, one-button point-and-shoot exercise in almost every other convertible in existence, made me feel like a dog attempting math—and the possibility that every NYC pothole can become an extinction-level event. Oh, all that plus about $200,000.
Not to mention, the 570S Spider is one of McLaren's so-called "Sport" series, as opposed to "Super Series" cars like the P1, which means they're kind of entry-level supercars, or McLaren's take on a sports car. That is to suggest, compromise should be less of a concern with cars like 570S—"less" being a relative term, of course. Besides, anyone spending that type of coin on a supercar should know what he's getting into. And in New York City, a global center for finance, entertainment, publishing, advertising, hospitality, and fashion, there are a lot of people with that kind of coin. But, as someone who a.) works for a car publication, that is b.) located in NYC, I've long thought the Big Apple is a self-evidently terrible place to own one of these machines. For one thing, you can't drive fast anywhere; mostly, you're going about 25-45 mph at any point within the major city thoroughfares. And that's when you're going any speed at all, because traffic is constant. The roads and most of the bridges are embarrassingly terrible for one of the world's great cities, and also, everyone on the road is an asshole (myself included).
Mostly, when we get an amazing machine like a McLaren and need to figure out what it's really like, we head for the hills—some remote part of New York state, or New Jersey, or even Connecticut. (It's no wonder so many significant car collections are kept in those places, rather than in the city.) The driving is better, the shots greener, the atmosphere is conducive to thinking more than survival. I set out to do the opposite: a supercar review in NYC. If you're looking for screaming tires, look elsewhere; if you're looking for regular old screaming, we've got you covered.
I would be remiss to point out that, when everything aligns and you're cruising the West Side Highway with the top down on a cool fall day, overlooking the Hudson River as the sun sets in a soft silent explosion of gold and purple, there might be no more magical feeling in the world. I get to complain about it because I've spent 13 years of my life here, but there is something real about NYC magic.
God damn it, New York, you always do this to me.