McLaren GT review: Woking's everyday supercar?

Published:17 September 2019

McLaren GT
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

► A more practical McLaren
► But is it a sound formula?
► Think 911 Turbo, but mid-engined 

So on paper, Woking says its McLaren GT goes like a supercar but has more luggage space than some compact SUVs. But is it really a Grand Tourer, and does it do enough to tempt away the usual Bentley and Aston buyers really go for it? Here's the full CAR magazine review. 

McLaren’s done a GT? Front-engined V12, then?

Not exactly. It’s a low slung two-seater built around a carbon chassis and has a twin-turbo, mid…

…mounted V8. Yeah, I have a feeling I’ve heard this one before

But this one is really different. It has 570 litres of luggage space.

Why on earth are you crowing about boot space in a supercar?

First, it’s not a supercar, says McLaren. It’s a GT, and that’s why boot space matters. And here you go: that 570 litres is more than you get in an Astra Sports Tourer estate, though it’s actually split between the frunk (150 litres) and a long space above the engine that’s good for a set of golf clubs, a pair of skis or anything long and thin - it’s a Mafia hitman’s dream supercar.

It’s a 570S with a bigger boot. Doesn’t McLaren already make the 570GT?

True, but that only had 370 litres of luggage space. Plus, it was hard to tell from a 570S. The new GT gets a different chassis tub and its own unique styling: pronounced rear hips with gaping air intakes, a more masculine rear end treatment (reminiscent of a Lamborghini Huracan’s), aluminium interior detailing to lift the mostly carryover 570 cabin. Design boss Rob Melville says this is the McLaren James Bond would drive.

But there’s more to a GT than luggage space

There is, which is why McLaren has paid plenty of attention to things like tyre noise, which is impressively low, and ride comfort. The GT doesn’t get the 720’s hydraulic suspension but it does get that car’s clever adaptive damping system and the ride is hugely impressive.

There’s memory foam in the seats to make them more comfortable, the nose has comparable ground clearance and approach angles with a Merc C-class to help navigate kerbs and speed bumps, and lastly, the engine is tuned for mid-range torque.

Pass the Werthers. I’ve not heard so many ‘soft’ references since I attended that erectile dysfunction clinic. For a friend

A McLaren called GT and designed to work over long distances was never going to feel as exciting as a 600LT. Yes, there’s a bit of understeer when you really push, the brakes (steel, not carbon) don’t have that same solid racing car-feel underfoot, and there are definitely fewer fireworks at high revs.

But compared with cars like the Bentley Continental GT or Aston DB11, the McLaren is in another league. In fact, compared to many other sports and supercars, it’s still in another league. The steering might not communicate like a 600LT’s but the feel is excellent, and the way you can glide through corners on a good road is almost balletic.

And some of those changes you might accuse of being soft, actually work really well in the real world. The steel brakes are easier to modulate at real road speeds, the power delivery and progressive tyre breakaway makes slides a cinch and the fat wodge of mid-range torque makes it feel faster than a 600LT in many situations, despite the inferior power to weight ratio.

What kind of power are we talking?

The GT makes 620ps, or 612bhp, from a 4.0 V8. That compares with 562bhp for the 570S and 570GT, and 592bhp for the 600LT (which all share a 3.8-litre capacity). At 1530kg, the GT is 32kg heavier than the 570GT, but almost 350kg lighter than a V12 DB11. Zero to 62mph takes 3.2sec in the new GT, compared with 3.4sec for the old 570GT and 3.9sec for the Aston.

Sounds fun. Just one thing: is it really a GT?

Not in the accepted sense. You still have usual supercar compromises: the visibility isn’t great, the cabin feels cramped, and there’s some very faint boominess at light throttle at motorway speeds that undermines its touring potential.

There’s something else, too. The flat-plane crank V8 still feels very much like a sports car engine. It sounds hard-edged and not remotely luxurious. Fine for a supercar, but…

McLaren GT: verdict

If you want mid-engined two-seater there are more exciting ones than this. McLaren makes some of them. And if you’re dead set on a luxurious big coupe like the Bentley Continental, it’s going to take a giant mental leap (and a smaller physical one over that door sill and under the dihedral door) to consider McLaren’s GT as an alternative.

What the GT does do is speak to people who really do want a supercar, but can’t justify it because the lack of practicality and refinement means it won’t be used enough. Look at it that way, look at it as a mid-engined 911 Turbo, and you can see the appeal. McLaren is so sure that it’s on to something it predicts the GT will account for a quarter of sales.

Specs

Price when new: £163,000
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 3994cc 32v V8, 612bhp@7500rpm, 465lb ft@5500-6500rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 3.2sec 0-62mph, 203mph, 23.7mpg, 270g/km
Weight / material: 1530kg/carbon fibre, aluminium
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4638/2045/1223

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By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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