► New Grand Tourer joins Sports Series range
► Supercar performance, enhanced refinement
► Priced from £154,000, deliveries late 2016
GT: those two letters say it all about the latest McLaren in the Sports Series range. The 570GT is engineered not for the race track but for the motorway, and the romantic notion of ‘Gran Turismo’ – effortlessly crossing continents with a glamorous partner (ideally yours).
McLaren claims to have increased refinement and practicality levels accordingly, compared to the 570S, while preserving the trademark supercar performance expected from a brand forged in Formula 1. Has it succeeded?
How does a 570S become a GT?
The GT has much in common with its S coupe (not a Hyundai) sibling: a lightweight carbonfibre tub and aluminium body panels, double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension and a mid-mounted, twin-turbo V8 kicking out 562bhp and 443lb ft. But the tuning is different: the steering is 2% less direct, to boost stability during high-speed cruising. The spring rates are 10-15% softer, too, to increase comfort levels.
And you know what, the 570GT is a very civilised beast – a domesticated lion, no less. Mid-corner bumps when the car is under severe lateral load are smoothed over with a mere hiccough, and the ride is extremely supple on the motorway (though the blacktop on Tenerife’s test roads was smoother than a Roger Moore one-liner). Special Pirelli P Zero tyres wear a noise absorbing tread pattern, claimed to reduce cockpit noise by three decibels; indeed the gentle whistle of motorway wind noise is more pronounced than tyre chatter.
The air of civility is completed by a quieter exhaust, compared with the 570S’s: cruising at 80mph, the V8 is pulling 2500 revs, with barely a murmur. The flip side is that when you quicken the pace, the exhaust sounds more pea-shooter than a Vulcan bomber. But that’s probably appropriate for the Grand Tourer vibe: if you want fireworks, option the £3240 sports exhaust.
Hmmm, this 570GT sounds becalmed…
Not when you press the throttle, it doesn’t. Once you’ve overcome the occasional bit of low-down turbo lag, the GT accelerates as quickly and effortlessly as a supersonic travelator. The 570GT eerily dispatches 62mph from standstill in 3.4secs, just two-tenths slower than the lighter 570S. In an instant, the 500m-gap to that Ibiza hire car is down to 50m, and a press of the firm carbon ceramic brakes (a £7290 option) is required. Top speed is 204mph.
Corners are as fun as the straights, thanks to phenomenal grip levels. The delightful steering – surprisingly light but not too featherweight, and with plenty of feedback – tucks the nose into a corner, and despite some challenging cambers you can safely get on the power early and swoop out the other side. This is one stable supercar.
Power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Auto is the smooth default, but press the ‘active’ button to engage manual mode, and take control via the tactile carbonfibre paddleshifts: it’s addictive, piling on the revs to the 8500rpm redline, pulling for the next gear to unleash the odd crackle from the exhaust. And you can tweak the powertrain map, and the handling, by toggling between Normal, Sport and Track.
You got me. Close the deal with the +2 rear seats and heaps of boot space…
Ah. The 570GT might be the longest McLaren by a fraction, but there’s still only room for two seats. The good news is 370 litres of cargo space, the bad news is it’s split: 150 in the nose and 220 in the ‘Touring Deck’.
The latter is accessed via a rear glass screen that opens like a grand piano’s lid. McLaren will switch the hinge on left-hand drive cars to ensure owners can access the deck while standing on the pavement, but you still have to lean awkwardly over the bodywork, potentially dirtying your designer threads.
The cockpit, with its low-mounted, electrically adjustable seats, is comprehensively trimmed in leather. The GT gets an upgraded, 8-speaker audio system compared with the 570S, and you can specify a 12-speaker Bowers and Wilkins system. A glass roof panel is standard, conjoined to the new glass hatch housed in revised bodywork: gone are the 570S’s aerodynamic flying buttresses, compensated for by an extended rear spoiler.
The GT’s few niggles relate to the interior, from the tiny, phablet-sized touchscreen and its unintuitive sat-nav to the puny air-con. A head-up display would be helpful, too, so you can easily keep an eye on the obscene speeds you’re clocking up.
The 570GT is astoundingly quick and handles beautifully – in those respects it’s McLaren through and through. But the Woking firm has polished up the refinement: the GT is civilised, comfortable and has a stab at practicality. Rather than being an undiluted Gran Turismo, it’s a supercar with GT leanings.
If you want your engine up front, occasional seats and a bigger boot, look elsewhere. But you’ll struggle to get the pace, excitement and sense of occasion this splendid supercar offers – and possibly its air of civility too.
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