Welcome to Miami (Bienvenidos a Miami). As the home of beautiful people, pristine beaches, and Motor1.com, the Magic City is the ideal proving ground for two stunning, six-figure drop tops. At our disposal were the McLaren 570S Spider and the Ferrari Portofino.
Even though these two vehicles don't have a lot in common, they're more competitive than you think – at least on paper. For one, they're both convertibles that produce nearly 600 horsepower from twin-turbocharged V8s, each ring in at around $210,000 (to start), and, in Miami, they both make ideal options for cruising along South Beach.
Taking into account things like style and prestige, our task was to decide which of these two supercars made the most sense on the streets of Miami, Florida.
Miami-ness / Intangibles
McLaren: When talking about two cars made for Miami, first we have to talk about the intangibles – things like prestige, sex appeal, and the ability to circumnavigate some of the city’s rougher roads. In this case, the McLaren is a tough choice in the Magic City.
Miami’s boring, straight, often poorly paved highways don’t do the 570S Spider any justice. This car was made for cornering, and outside of the occasional highway onramp, and a few secret twisties we found while shooting, there isn’t much fun driving to be had in the McLaren.
That said, the McLaren does get a bunch of brownie points for sex appeal. The GT-esque Portofino, especially in a nondescript silver paint job, didn’t garner nearly as many lingering glances as the 570S did on the streets of South Beach, which is paramount when owning a supercar in this city.
Ferrari: That’s not to say the Ferrari didn’t draw eyeballs, though. Just having the Prancing Pony badge on the front-end equals high praise south of the Broward-Dade county line. If your only reference points for Miami car culture are TV shows Miami Vice and Ballers, then owning a Portofino in Miami makes perfect sense.
For the most part, the Portofino was a better daily driver than the McLaren. Its taller ride height and more affable dynamics meant we could take it almost anywhere. Even with the raucous twin-turbocharged V8 underhood, it never felt unruly or out of its element. Sure, there still weren’t nearly enough corners for us to fully enjoy the capabilities of the this Ferrari, but in Miami, the Portofino’s cruising expertise makes more sense.
Performance and Handling
McLaren: There’s no denying that if you buy either of these cars, you’re in for serious performance. But the McLaren 570S Spider outguns the Ferrari in nearly every respect. It’s able, at any time, to unleash impressive amounts of speed.
The 562-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 is marvelous. It delivers power in a linear, progressive fashion, with peak horsepower arriving gradually at 5,000 RPM. Drop it into a lower gear, stomp on the gas pedal in either its Sport or Track modes, and the 570S will attempt to rip all of the skin off your face. The weight of a St. Bernard presses against your chest, and the noise – that noise (courtesy of the $5,750 MSO titanium exhaust) – is a soundtrack that has to be experienced to believe.
The hydraulically assisted rack is charmingly retro. It twitches and jerks on an atomic level, and yields some of the most direct feedback of any vehicle. The suspension feels like something pulled from a race car; it’s tight and tough, but supremely rewarding through the bends. To use the tired cliche, “it handles like it’s on rails,” would be an understatement.
If I had to dock the McLaren anywhere, it would be in the comfort department. Driving for more than an hour will leave your ears ringing, your legs numb, and your arms limp. Its communicative and involving nature is endurance car-esque. But damn is it worth it; the 570S Spider is a stupidly fun-to-drive thing.
Ferrari: High praise for the McLaren, sure, but the Ferrari isn’t far behind. These are two very different vehicles, even though they compete closely in both price and power. The Portofino is more about cruising the countryside – it isn’t nearly as scalpel sharp or communicative as the McLaren. It acts more like a steak knife, cutting off larger pieces of the performance band in one fell swoop.
You won’t miss the old California’s V8 here. The Ferrari Portofino’s new twin-turbocharged V8 trumps most other V8s, McLaren included. The 591 horses that come from beneath the long GT hood – 29 more than the McLaren – are immediate and intoxicating. Lightly touch the accelerator and the Portofino gallops – no lag, no spooling, just straight power. And the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic shifts like no other. It’s unfathomably quick and wholly decisive, whether shifting up or down.
The only area where the McLaren has a significant advantage over the Portofino is handling. The Ferrari suffers from too much dead space on-center that makes the entire car feel numb. The rack itself is too light and doesn’t provide enough feedback from the tarmac to the driver. An active torque-vectoring function helps keep the Portofino feel light on its feet, at least, but the entire setup still feels like a downgrade to the more-precise McLaren.
Styling and Interior
McLaren: The 570S follows a familial theme, and most of its cues are borrowed from sexy siblings such as the P1 and 650S. Highlighting its streamlined performance, the 570 has a front fascia that ends in a point. Combined with two lower diffusers that form seamlessly into the emblem-shaped headlights, a curvaceous hood, and a low center of gravity, the 570S is sharp. You don’t need to be an aerodynamics expert to realize it cuts through the air like a knife; it returns a drag coefficient of 0.32.
Everything about this car is visually stunning. Even with the removable metal roof, the 570S doesn’t sacrifice styling in place of open-air functionality. Put the 570S Spider side-by-side with the coupe, and you might not be able to tell the two cars apart, apart from some minor body panel differences where the roof disconnects.
Drop the metal roof, and this car is a show-stopper. The targa layout combined with two fairings that jut up just behind the driver and passenger make it one of the most beautiful droptops on the market – bar none.
The cabin isn’t as dramatic, though. This particular tester wore a subtle mix of Alcantara and cream-colored leather, but it felt a little uninspired relative to the sharp exterior. Leather covered the seats and door panels, while Alcantara inched its way over every remaining surface. There were plenty of carbon-fiber-accent pieces thrown in for good measure, too.
Ferrari: The Portofino’s style isn’t nearly as dramatic as the McLaren’s – but damn, it is exceptionally pretty. There aren’t any sharp edges to be found, which makes the Portofino more aerodynamic than the McLaren (the Ferrari sports drag coefficient of just 0.31). The front fascia gets a smiling, Ferrari grille and cascading headlights. A spine running down the center of the hood is the only edgy element of note. It offsets the otherwise smooth styling of the front fascia.
Like the McLaren, the Portofino doesn’t suffer from characteristic drop-top cues. You’d never guess that the metal roof was removable, had you not known. With the top up, the Portofino mimics the 812 Superfast. With the roof down, its sophisticated silhouette is bedroom poster worthy.
The backside is even better. The single LED taillight fixtures, found elsewhere throughout the Ferrari lineup, are extremely appealing – not just on this car, but on all Ferraris. Quad exhaust tips, a simple black diffuser, and a subtle but stylish integrated spoiler adds some panache to the otherwise mellow cues.
The cabin is comfortable, too. Try not to be blinded by the surplus of red leather – probably the highest-quality leather I’ve ever laid hands on – and you’ll find that the Portofino is a particularly nice place to be. If I had to dock the Ferrari anywhere, it would be for the optional carbon fiber steering wheel. Even with leather padding, it looked and felt out of place in the otherwise posh cabin.
In terms of storage room, the Ferrari is the superior of the two. The Portofino has 10.3 cubic feet of cargo room in the trunk. Even though the McLaren’s “frunk” is deep and capable of holding a large duffle bag or two, it’s a mere 5.3 cubic feet of space.
McLaren: The tech setup on the 570S Spider is sleek, but it’s far less advanced than the one found on the Ferrari. The vertically oriented touchscreen looks gorgeous, mimicking the sharp nature of the rest of the car, but it has poor functionality.
Something as simple as connecting your phone warrants a dive into two different screens, and the in-dash navigation system is frustratingly confusing. Unlike the Portofino, McLaren doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, which would have alleviated most of the frustration of the otherwise pretty setup.
Ferrari: Both of these cars are focused on performance, first and foremost, but the Ferrari offers a tech setup that rivals anything on the market.
The massive 10.2-inch display is a game changer. The graphics are stunning, the controls are easy to navigate, and navigation itself is sleek and simple to use. Connecting my iPhone, even, is immediate without having to dig through various settings. The only downside is that this model didn’t have Apple CarPlay – but you can get it as a hefty $4,219 option. Ouch.
McLaren: Top down, both of these cars are tons of fun – but the McLaren was more appealing. Its roof opened and closed in just 12 seconds, which meant it was easy to avoid unexpected rain showers. And it was easy to control, too. No latches to undo; just hit a button on the center console and the roof neatly folds into the tiny space in front of the engine bay.
Ferrari: There was nothing offensive about the Portofino’s metal roof, either. It had the same simple execution as the McLaren: Just hit a button on the dash, and the roof folds into place. But it took longer to put up and down than the McLaren, which in Miami, is a problem when battling bugs, heat, and torrential downpours.
McLaren: The 570S Spider starts at $208,000, which means it won’t get high marks for affordability, no matter which way you slice it. But in its class, the McLaren sits right between the Audi R8 Spyder ($177,100) and the Huracan Spyder ($219,780).
Our tester was a bit more expensive – it had an asking price of $235,340. But it was worth it. Options such as the MSO titanium exhaust ($5,750), the special By McLaren Designer interior ($3,110), the Bowers and Wilkins 12-speaker audio system ($2,280), and the ceramic brakes ($1,110) were deserving of the extra cost. If I had to toss out any two options, it would be the 10-spoke diamond cut wheels ($5,140) and the optional Vega Blue paint job ($4,320) – it’s pretty enough out of the box.
Ferrari: At $215,000, the Ferrari Portofino isn’t far off from the 570S. Again, that’s a good price for this segment considering the Huracan is still a bit more expensive. Once you dive into options for the Portofino though, things start to get pricey.
There are three alternate grilles, each at a cost of $1,687. There’s a front-facing camera that costs a whopping $6,075. A carbon-fiber cup holder is $2,531, foldable rear-seat backrests are $1,687, painted brake calipers are an extra $1,519, colored floor mats are $1,350, and, as previously mentioned, Apple CarPlay is more than $4,000. With all of these options (and a few others not mentioned), the Ferrari Portofino will set you back $235,000 at a minimum.
Our tester was closer to $235,000, even without Apple CarPlay.
If we had to pick a winner in a vacuum, it would be the McLaren. It's sharp and sexy, and an absolute riot to drive, even in the worst conditions. But since we tasked ourselves with finding which car makes the most sense in Miami, the Ferrari Portofino gets a slight edge here.
While the 570S Spider is better on both the track and twisty backroads, the Ferrari Portofino is more versatile, comfortable, and esteemed. It handles every situation well, whether that be telegraphing your status on the streets of South Beach or tearing up the track at a marginally slower pace than the McLaren.
Plus, we all know there’s no better car to cruise the neon-lit streets of Miami in than a Ferrari. Crockett and Tubbs taught us that.
Winner: Ferrari Portofino
|2018 McLaren 570S Spider
|2018 Ferrari Portofino
|Twin-Turbo 3.8-Liter V8
|Twin-Turbo 3.9-Liter V8
|562 Horsepower / 443 Pound-Feet
|591 Horsepower / 560 Pound-Feet
|EPA Fuel Economy:
|16 City / 23 Highway / 19 Combined
|16 City / 22 Highway / 18 Combined
|5.3 Cubic Feet
|10.3 Cubic Feet
Photos: Clint Simone / Motor1.com