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McLaren 570S vs Audi R8 V10 Plus vs Porsche 911 Turbo S

The new McLaren 570S promises to be an everyday supercar. Can it see off established rivals from Porsche and Audi?

It’s been a tough time for the McLaren Formula One squad, which hasn’t won a race in nearly four years. However, while the brand’s racers have struggled, its road car division has gone from strength to strength.

Since 2012 its line-up has ballooned from one car to eight – and the latest is the 570. Based on similar carbon fibre underpinnings to its stablemates, the newcomer is designed as a supercar you can live with day to day. That makes it the most spacious and practical McLaren yet. Of course, there’s plenty of performance, too, due to the 562bhp twin-turbo V8. The 570 is available in luxurious GT and racy S guises; we test the latter here.

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McLaren 570GT review

The McLaren isn’t the only high-performance car that’s easy to live with. The Porsche 911 Turbo S has always been the ultimate supercar for all seasons, and now there’s a revised version with even more performance and a host of interior tweaks. Audi’s sensational R8 V10 Plus completes our trio of mouth-watering machines; it combines jaw-dropping looks and top-notch quality with thrilling handling and a sublime engine. Which of our trio takes the spoils? We hit road and track to find out.

Head to head

Our three super sports have been designed to be as assured on the track as they are on the road, and the compact and challenging Llandow circuit in South Wales proved the perfect venue to test our contenders to the limit.

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We timed each model over the 0.9-mile lap, and the McLaren emerged as the fastest, setting a benchmark of 42.7 seconds. The Porsche was two-tenths behind, while the Audi was a second off the 570’s pace.

With its suspension and drivetrain in the Track setting, the McLaren felt most at home on the circuit, as it turned in more keenly, gripped harder and remained more stable. However, the Porsche wasn’t far behind, plus its anti-roll suspension, four-wheel steering and rear-engined traction delivered remarkable agility through sudden changes of direction.

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In isolation the Audi felt incredibly fast and composed, but over a few laps the effort needed to contain the heavy mid-mounted V10 soon overwhelmed and overheated the rear tyres, resulting in increasingly wayward behaviour. The resulting slides were fairly easy to correct on a circuit, but after a few laps like this, you’d end up facing a huge bill for replacing the tyres.

Verdict

First place: McLaren 570S

The incredible 570S is arguably the best McLaren since the legendary F1. Combining the brand’s traditional hi-tech approach with a little more personality and driver involvement, it’s a visciously fast and accomplished sports car that’s engaging to drive at any speed. And its amazing looks, driver-focused interior, surprisingly comfortable ride and decent practicality are the icing on the cake. We awarded the 570S our Performance Car of the Year award at the 2016 Auto Express New Car Awards, and it’s well deserved. 

Second place: Audi R8

For many, the Audi’s fabulous 5.2-litre V10 alone will be worth the entry price. With its heavy-hitting performance and orchestral soundtrack, it’s a true mechanical masterpiece. Better still, it’s wrapped in stunning-looking bodywork and is backed by driving dynamics that manage to blend the everyday convenience of the TT with high-octane, high-speed thrills.

Third place: Porsche 911

In many respects, it’s the Porsche’s ability to make the extraordinary seem ordinary that relegates it to third. This is the easiest car to live with every day, yet it’s also hugely fast and engaging. Its outright ability is on par with its rivals, but in a test that demands thrills its low-key approach lets it down. Plus, the latest Carrera turbos give you 90 per cent of the S’s ability for two-thirds the cost.

Coming soon

Honda NSX

Price: £130,000 (est)
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Engine: 3.5-litre V6 hybrid, 573bhp
New Honda NSX 2015 driving

Honda's flagship supercar is back after over a decade away. Unlike our test cars, it goes down the hybrid route, blending a petrol V6 with powerful electric motors. However, it promises to be every bit as engaging to drive as the original.

Facts and figures

 McLaren 570SAudi R8 V10 PlusPorsche 911 Turbo S
On-the-road price/total as tested£143,270/£187,320£134,500/£155,020£146,478/£148,930
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)N/A£65,771/48.9%£65,183/44.5%
DepreciationN/A£68,730£81,295
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£10,515/£21,030£9,868/£19,735£10,787/£21,574
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£3,664/£6,107£2,871/£4,785£2,685/£4,475
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost50/N/A/L/£50050/£1,244/M/£51550/£1,298/K/£295
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd serviceTBC£999/£869/£1,613£550/£1,250/£550
    
Length/wheelbase4,530/2,670mm4,426/2,650mm4,507/2,450m
Height/width1,202/2,095mm1,240/1,940mm1,297/1,880mm
EngineV8/3,799ccV10/5,204ccFlat-six/3,800cc
Peak power 562/7,400 bhp/rpm602/8,250 bhp/rpm572/6,750 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 600/6,000 Nm/rpm560/6,500 Nm/rpm750/2,100 Nm/rpm
Transmission 7-spd twin-clutch/rwd7-spd twin-clutch/4WD7-spd twin-clutch/4WD
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel72 litres/foam73 litres/foam68 litres/foam
Boot capacity 144 litres112 litres115 litres
Kerbweight/payload1,344kg/N/A1,555/340kg1,675/315kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient12.4 metres/N/A11.2 metres/N/A10.6 metres/0.31Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unltd)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (unltd)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 miles (1yr)/6Variable/12120,000 miles (2yrs)/36
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.N/A21st/25th7th/8th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./pointsN/AN/AN/A
    
0-60/30-70mph3.1/2.0 secs2.9/2.2 secs2.9/2.0 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 2.0/3.0 secs1.6/2.3 secs1.7/2.9 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th 3.5/6.1/12.0 secs2.9/4.0/5.1 secs2.8/4.0/7.2 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 204mph/1,800rpm205mph/2,900rpm205mph/1,800rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 41.8/33.2/9.5m40.1/33.2/8.9m36.9/30.4/7.9m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mphN/A66/50/67/76dBN/A
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range18.1/4.0/287 miles23.1/5.1/371 miles24.7/5.4/369 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 17.2/38.4/26.6mpg16.1/30.4/23.0mpg23.9/37.7/31.0mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 3.8/8.5/5.9mpl3.6/6.7/5.1mpl5.3/8.3/6.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket361/249g/km/37%283/287g/km/37%264/212g/km/37%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park. sensors/cameraFive/yes/£960/£990Four/yes/yes/£600Six/£122/yes/yes
Auto/stab ctrl/ceramic brakes/AEB^Yes/yes/yes/noYes/yes/yes/noYes/yes/yes/£1,278**
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/yes/£2,620^^Yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless goYes/LED/yesYes/LED/yesYes/LED/£744
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes
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