It’s a McLaren, but the aim is to gain ground under the front-engined GTs of its rivals. Only with a completely unique approach to the intercontinental formula.
We’ll start with the McLaren part: there’s a turbo mid-engined V8, a dual-clutch gearbox and a two-seater carbon fiber cockpit. But it’s roomier, more practical and more refined than its 720S sibling.
It weighs only 1,530 kg and has 620 hp. No one doubts that a mid-engined car with these numbers will be much better at driving on a twisty road than a much heavier front-engined car.
How much has the GT sacrificed McLaren’s supercar advantage?
That is what we are here to find out. To begin with, McLaren really put in the effort. It may sound familiar enough, but more than two-thirds of the GT’s parts are new. The engine, a work-four like in the 720S, has smaller turbos and completely redesigned piping compared to other McLarens. As we will see, this brings a more adequate power delivery, but also makes the engine physically lower.
That in turn means room upstairs for a surprisingly large trunk under a glass tailgate. He can swallow a bag of golf clubs, if that’s your thing. Or two pairs of skis or a guitar. And careful insulation and fresh air ducts mean they won’t melt. Another trunk in the front can accommodate a few flight bags, so overall it’s good for 570 liters of luggage space if you don’t mind those liters being unconventionally shaped and laid out.
What about the dynamics?
The suspension has been retuned with softer front springs and fine tuning of the stabilizer bar to compensate. Yes, it has stabilizer bars, like the 570 series (now out of stock), instead of adaptive hydraulic stabilizers like the 720S. The damping is adaptive and the McLaren-style hydraulic steering.
The cabin is more luxurious and quieter. The GT also has decent ground clearance and highway handling, good visibility, and tires that perform well in the wet.
Although it is longer than almost any other McLaren, it is not as aggressive. Or ringing. It will not wake the dead.
At launch, the GT sat alongside the 570S and 720S range as McLaren aimed to capture new customers rather than simply build a replacement car for the existing batch. But in the years that have passed, the 570 series (also known as the Sports series) has gone out of production while the Artura hybrid is poised to enter a different space. Without the 570S and GT on its fringe, we’d say the GT is carving out a more interesting niche.
What’s the verdict?
It is a really good and very attractive car. The more you drive it, the easier the verdict becomes. The hardest question is whether this is the answer to the grand tour question.
Surprisingly, the driving experience is close to that of other McLaren products, at least those with less than 700 hp. However, refinement and driving comfort are a step ahead. Better, in fact, than McLaren’s front-engined GT rivals, which try to make up for their weight (and massive alloys) with stiff springs, sharp dampers and noisy tyres.
But the mid-engine configuration imposes its own compromises. The cabin is too narrow, not so much for people as for things. And the cargo space, while large, requires you to pack carefully.
In the end, it is a committed GT. But the fact is that all rivals are too, although for different reasons. It’s no wonder that the cars that the richest people actually use for long trips are SUVs. But for people who love to drive, this McLaren will do the GT job like nothing else. It’s in a curious corner of the market, but you’ll fall in love if it meets your equally curious needs.
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Source : topgear.com