The McLaren GT adds comfort and refinement to raw power
Of all the cars it’s produced in recent years, McLaren says the 570GT has been one of its biggest successes. The car is outperforming the company’s initial sales projections, and customers have been asking for a followup that offers more space and more comfort in a package that’s more distinct.Enter the new McLaren GT — the simply and succinctly named grand tourer that slots somewhere between the 570GT and 720S in the company’s supercar lineup. As you can see in the accompanying photos and video, this isn’t just some GT-ified derivative of McLaren’s 570-, 600- or 720-badged models. And that’s why, much like the Speedtail hypercar, it does without numerals in its name.”We didn’t want a derivative of something that already existed,” Ian Digman, McLaren’s global head of product management, told me during a backgrounder for the new GT in Los Angeles, California, last month. And while you can certainly find links to McLaren’s other cars in the GT, dig a bit deeper and you’ll see how different it really is.
Compared to the angular 570S and GT, and the almost alien-like 720S, the GT’s design is a huge step in a more conservative direction. Speedtail influence is apparent in the small headlight housings and slim, horizontal LED taillamps. It’s definitely a more sedate approach to supercar design, and one I actually find quite beautiful in person.The GT’s body wraps around a new version of McLaren’s carbon fiber tub, called MonoCell II-T, that latter “T” for “Touring.” This variation incorporates a rear upper structure that sits above the engine, and forms the basis for the luggage area. Unlike the 570GT, which uses a side-hinged glass over for its boot, the new GT has a top-hinged tailgate that can be optioned with a power open/close function. Once open, you’ll find 14.8 cubic feet of cargo space, which is enough to house a full set of golf clubs — albeit snugly. An additional 5.3 cubic feet of space is available in the front trunk.Because of this relatively generous cargo hold, the GT’s engine is positioned 4.7 inches lower to the ground than it is in a 720S, supported by a lower, wider muffler. Unlike a 720S, the GT’s exhaust tips exit below the taillights, and McLaren says it redesigned the airflow mechanicals to ensure the cargo are above the powerplant wouldn’t be subjected to the engine’s heat.The 4.0-liter V8 sits low enough in the chassis to allow for a 14.8-cubic-foot cargo hold above.
The engine in question is a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8, producing a healthy 612 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels, and like McLaren’s other cars, the powertrain has Comfort, Sport and Track drive settings. Obviously, that kind of power in a 3,384-pound coupe like the GT will result in some blistering speeds, and to that end, McLaren says the GT can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in just 3.1 seconds. Hitting 124 mph takes 9 seconds flat, and all told, the GT will top out at 203 mph, should you have an extra airport runway at your disposal.The suspension utilizes four-corner adaptive dampers with McLaren’s Proactive Damping Control that can sense road conditions ahead and adjust spring rates accordingly. Staggered 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels are standard, wrapped in 225/35R20 and 295/30R21 Pirelli P-Zero tires. McLaren also fits the GT with a hydraulic steering setup, which has been heavily retuned for this car, and uses a single software tune across all driving modes. The company says the steering and braking have specifically been tuned to make the GT easier to drive at low speeds, without any loss of performance when things get more interesting. I’ll be eager to see if this single steering tune will be able to strike a great balance between comfort and sport… say, on the roads near my home in Los Angeles.Also helping the GT’s city prowess is its increased ground clearance compared to other McLarens — 4.3 inches as standard, increased to 5.1 with the nose lift activated. McLaren says this raised height is “the equal of mainstream sedans.” Screw you, speed bumps.Inside, the GT’s cabin isn’t too drastic of a departure from what you get in the 720S. There’s a fixed, 12.3-inch digital display nestled behind the steering wheel that houses pertinent driving information, as well as navigation or multimedia data. The center stack gets a slight redesign, as does the console between the seats.McLaren will offer the GT with super-soft cashmere upholstery.
Interestingly, McLaren says the GT uses an all-new touchscreen infotainment system, housed on a vertically oriented digital display in the center of the cabin. The company is shy on specific details, but officials tell me the system will be “five times faster” than the current Iris setup, thanks to a much better processor, with standard Here navigation maps and real-time traffic information. McLaren says the new tech “operates in a similar way to a smartphone,” and I’ll be curious to see it in action — especially since Iris doesn’t exactly set a high bar for modern infotainment interfaces.Every GT comes standard with Nappa leather interior trim, though buyers can opt for “softgrain” hides or Alcantara fabric if they wish. McLaren will even offer a cashmere interior option “towards the end of 2019,” according to a statement, and this represents the first application of this super-soft material in a production car. If freaking cashmere doesn’t scream grand touring, I don’t know what does.As you’d expect, none of this comes cheaply. The McLaren GT will be priced from $210,000 when it goes on sale in the US later this year. But considering the competitive set includes the $217,000 Aston Martin DB11 and $191,000 Porsche 911 Turbo S, it’s not exactly a tall order.Moreover, the GT’s asking price only represents a roughly $10,000 price hike over the 570GT, which for well-heeled McLaren-owning types is basically chump change. In fact, that seems like a relatively minor increase when you consider this car appears to offer so much more.The McLaren GT will cost $210,000 when it goes on sale in the US later this year.
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