A gentle cruise down to the Cote d’Azur isn’t on the top of the list of priorities for McLaren, going by their penchant for building hardcore track oriented supercars.
Everything from the wild P1 to the LT’s via the 570S have been built to do one thing. And that is to devour speed along with corners while also involving the driver in the process with its razor-sharp precision handling.
However the McLaren that you see here is somewhat different. It doesn’t wake up and guzzle a protein shake (or a tank of unleaded) to solely pound out lap times all day. It is built to explore the Riviera and jostle for attention amongst the mega-yachts along with being the “practical” mode of transport for the mega-rich.
Twin-turbo, McLaren V8 engine
The McLaren GT, as it is called, makes no bones about which crowd it is talking to. And that’s no bad thing. It shows that McLaren can relax and also do it in its own way. It comes into a crowded sector though being dominated by the likes of the Bentley GT, the just-arrived Ferrari Roma or the Aston Martin DB11. And top-end Porsche 911’s and various AMG Mercedes are also there.
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The GT is positioned at the pointer end since McLaren has not sacrificed its main ethos of a carbon fiber structure. That results in it being the lightest car in its class, even giving it the rigidity of a bespoke supercar. At 1,530kg, the McLaren GT is more than 130kg lighter than its closest competitor. It’s “hundreds of kilograms” less than some other cars in this segment.
Appealing to a wide audience
For all its cruiser abilities, it is still a very fast car, with a 620PS (611HP) 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged McLaren V8 engine. The power-to-weight ratio is a remarkable 405PS-per-tonne. However you would be interested more in the “GT” side of things we assume and here it is quite incredible.
The road noise is controlled while the steering is brilliantly accurate which helps it swallow vast distances easily. The gearbox is calm when you want it to be and so is the exhaust noise.
Oh and the ground clearance is enough to tackle just about every kind of road surface. Or even climbing the curb at the Monaco casino while also not misbehaving in the wet. It is a McLaren, but a civilized one, with many subtle changes done for it to appeal to a wider audience.
The interior though, at first glance, is typical McLaren, with a sci-fi cockpit and a minimalistic design. It isn’t Bentley plush nor as spacious, But there is soft-grain luxury leather or Alcantara, while having “all luxury amenities” added in, like a 12-speaker, 1200W Bowers & Wilkins Audio Speaker System.
Sci Fi-worthy cockpit
The carbon fiber passenger cell makes for a more intimate seating arrangement. And the egress and ingress is also a tad less elegant than some of its rivals. However the more supercar-like lay-out and those doors especially gives it more drama.
This is one McLaren where we should also talk about the practicality on offer. The rear luggage bay offers ample space below the front-hinged, full-length glazed tailgate. McLaren has also tweaked with the height of the engine and positioning of the exhaust system. That open up 420 litres of stowage with a golf bag or two pairs of 185cm skis and boots or a snowboard, as well as luggage, being able to be carried with ease.
A further 150 litres of space at the front – big enough to stow two overnight bags – means the new McLaren GT in total can accommodate 570 liters. Not bad at all.
So there you go, a McLaren review where we haven’t talked about its lap time or its side-ways antics. But in hindsight the GT somewhat does justice to its name despite some deviations from the norm.
It is less of a track tool than its stable mates and is more subtle about its intentions of conveying its performance potential. Despite those doors, the GT is reasonably practical. If painted in a node-script colour, it blends in as much as a $250,000 low-slung supercar can.
A 720S has more drama and looks better though, while nearly having all of the aforementioned practicality of the GT. We wished that McLaren would have steered towards the GT aspect a bit more to differentiate it further. But as things stand the McLaren GT is indeed a good start and an indulgent way to cross many countries in one day.