These two supercars have seen each other quite a bit, lately. Both cars represent each brand’s vision of an everyday supercar, a supercar for both the road and the track. Both the Audi R8 V10 Plus and McLaren 570S represent supercars that can be driven as easily on a race track as they are to the shops. However, the way both companies get there are distinctly different. Road & Track recently took both supercars to twisty back roads and a race track to see which path to everyday supercar-dome is best.
The formula for the Audi R8 V10 Plus is an intoxicating one. Its mid-mounted 5.2 liter naturally-aspirated V10 buried underneath its gorgeous body work makes the Audi R8 such a desirable car. Forget about the power (610 hp, by the way), forget about the speed (0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds and a 204 mph top speed) and forget about the Quattro all-wheel drive grip. Just look at the magnificent Lamborghini-derived engine through its glass cover and stare in awe. It’s likely the last time we’ll ever see something like it. Then start the car and listen to it. It’s life-changing. Audi’s approach is visual and audible excitement with brutal speed and force.
McLaren has a slightly different approach, a more graceful and subtle approach. Whereas the R8 is the top of Audi’s line, the 570S is the lowest end of McLaren’s. That mans that it’s the most subtle looking and least supercar-like of its siblings. The McLaren 570S loses the active aerodynamics, independent wheel suspension and high-mounted exhausts of the 650S and 675LT. It’s calmer and smaller, as it’s designed to be the more everyday car. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fast. A 562 hp 3.8 liter twin-turbo V8 gets it from 0-60 in 2.9 seconds with a top speed of 204 mph. That’s just as fast as the Audi R8 with less power and less engine. Thank its lightweight carbon fiber monocoque for that.
So which car is best to drive, which is the best interpretation of the everyday supercar? Well, R&T actually had a tough time figuring that out. The Audi R8 is brutally fast, can pummel tarmac into submission and makes a delicious, intoxicating noise. It’s simply a weapon and is the faster and easier car to drive than the McLaren. On the road, the R8 is faster, thanks to its all-wheel drive grip and confidence. However, on the track, the McLaren ruled the day. It’s actually faster in a straight line, thanks to its lower weight, and it’s sharper through corners, thanks to its rear-wheel drive and better steering.
In the end, R&T decided that the McLaren 570S is the better everyday supercar of the two. Reason being that it’s more of a supercar. The R8, as exciting as it is, is very easy to drive. It’s cockpit is beautifully appointed, in comfort mode it’s ride is comfortable and it has all of the electronics and features of an Audi A8. The McLaren, on the other hand, isn’t as easy to drive. It’s harder to see out of, has a worse interior and few creature comforts. But it’s also more rewarding to drive, with sharper steering feel, better chassis dynamics and a willingness to play. The Audi R8 is a fantastic overall car, but the McLaren 570S is the better supercar.