► New Sport Pack option for 570GT
► Steering and suspension from 570S
► Soft-compound Pirelli P-Zero tyres
McLaren has hidden an interesting cocktail within the Sports Series junior supercar line-up. There's a new, optional, Sport Pack for the 570GT, giving the car the same, slightly sharper, steering and suspension settings as the 570S.
Hold on, I’m confused already…
Of the three siblings in the Sports Series (570S, 570GT and 570 Spider), the 570GT was always intended to be the most rounded and easiest to live with.
To that end, it was launched with slightly kinder spring rates and a 2% slower-geared steering rack than the S and Spider, to make it a touch less mentally and physically taxing to drive.
Supercar-buying psychology being the funny thing it is, however, some customers liked the GT’s arcing roofline and extra luggage space (accessed beneath a shapely E-type-style side-hinged glass cover), but didn’t want to make any compromise on dynamics – or, one suspects, didn’t want others to think they’d chosen the softer option. Macho things, supercars.
Hence the new-for-2018 Sport Pack, born from customer demand. A £4900 option, it equips the GT with the same steering rack, uprights and damper actuators as the S/Spider, adds a set of softer Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres, and electronically sharpens the adaptive shocks, power steering and ESC accordingly.
I see... How does the Sport Pack make the 570GT feel to drive?
Like all 570-series McLarens, this is a truly fantastic driver’s car. The firmed-up suspension hasn’t made the GT uncomfortable – even without the bigger-brother McLaren 720’s clever interconnected hydraulic suspension the Sport Pack-equipped 570GT (and the similarly suspended 570S, for that matter) rides beautifully. At no point during this test did I wish this car had softer suspension.
Nor slower steering for that matter.
Light, accurate, Lotus-like steering is becoming a McLaren hallmark and the 570S/Sport Pack GT’s electro-hydraulic system is particularly lovely.
That said, though, when I last drove a standard-spec 570GT (which, admittedly, was a little while ago), I don’t remember wishing it had quicker steering, or firmer dampers – it’s not exactly a car you’d call wallowy.
And it’s fast, right?
Oh, is it ever. Fast enough to make your fingers and toes tingle like vertigo, weirdly enhanced by the lack of climactic engine noise. The curiously flat-sounding turbocharged V8 makes the onrushing scenery seem all the faster, but it’s a shame the 570 doesn’t have a more fittingly emotive soundtrack.
The Traction Control system is set up on the side of caution, even in more lenient Sport Pack tune. That’s not a bad thing – it’s as it should be for a hugely powerful mid-engined car, but it can feel quite restrictive on a dry day, even in the most relaxed Track mode. You’d be glad of it in the wet, though.
The steering does have a lively enthusiasm for following cambers and the wheel darts in your hands over bumps, particularly under braking. That could be as much a facet of the tyres as the steering however; another component of the Sport Pack are optional soft Pirelli P Zero Corsas, which are known to sniff out cambers more than the standard tyres.
The only other weak points are established 570GT flaws. The McLaren-developed IRIS touchscreen interface is harder work than it could be; the side-hinged rear glass becomes seriously hot to touch in the sun, and it can be tricky to extricate a heavy bag without dragging it over the bodywork (although the easily accessed front boot is big enough to accommodate a surprising amount of luggage); if we’re really nit-picking, the air-con fans are coarsely noisy, and a variety of mystery whirs and clicks can be heard before the engine starts up and after it shuts off, and there are a couple of wrinkles in this test car’s leather trim where it meets the door – but fit and finish feels admirably high-quality overall for a low-volume sports car.
The brakes need a good push, which is great at speed, where you want the racecar-style reassurance of a firm, short-travel pedal but in traffic you need to put a fair bit of force through them to hold the car, which can be tiring in long traffic jams, compounded by a lack of under-thigh support from the (otherwise great) seats, which can quickly lead to back ache. You also need to press the pedal firmly to select first gear – if you don’t, you’ll end up inadvertently giving the engine a good rev in neutral as you go to pull away, thus making everyone in earshot whirl round to stare at you.
It seems churlish to pick minor flaws, though. This is an enthralling, immensely likeable sports car that’s a sheer pleasure to drive at speeds high and low, and turns strangers into friends everywhere you go.
What else is new in McLaren 570GT world?
Carbon-ceramic brakes are now standard on the GT, a variety of new exterior colours and interior design schemes are now available, and there’s the new option of a controllable variable-tint electrochromic glass roof, with an electric current passing through the glass changing its opacity to a choice of pre-set levels.
As ever, it’s a case of try before you buy, but I reckon the 570GT + Sport Pack formula might just be the pick of the McLaren Sports Series combos.
It’s an alluring mix: glamorous roofline, more space than the 570S, but the same pin-sharp handling. Buying a supercar should never be a rational purchase, after all.
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