McLaren GT review
When McLaren arrived back on the automotive scene in 2011, it did so with great aplomb with the MP4-12C, later known just as the 12C.
The evolution of that car into the 650S and then the 720S has paved the way for the latest rendition: the GT.
It isn’t necessarily a natural long-term successor to the 12C, though, as the name implies, this is a Grand Tourer – a first for McLaren.
In theory that should mean it’s easier to live with day-to-day, capable of racking up the motorway miles in a trans-European dash.
Whether that’s achieved in practice might be questionable though, as McLaren is a pure racing brand and therefore, drivability remains its priority.
The GT looks gorgeous, as supercars do, albeit not as crazy as the 650S or 720S, and it’s powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 producing 620PS.
Based on the 720S’s platform, it accommodates more brand-new parts than those carried over from its predecessor. It also utilises more carbon fibre, which makes its housings smaller, resulting in more usable space in the luggage department.
In fact, despite being mid-engined, it offers a 420-litre boot as well as 150 litres of storage underneath the bonnet – in total, matching the Mazda CX-60 SUV.
Three trims are offered – Standard, Pioneer and Luxe – although they are all priced identically, with the Standard housing Nappa Leather, the Pioneer coming with Alcantara heated seats with electric memory adjustment, and the Luxe offering the same as the Pioneer but with Softgrain Aniline leather and a lighter colour scheme.
There are additional practicality options, too, with packs offering parking sensors, a rear-view camera, a Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system and a powered tailgate, amongst others – and these are at no additional cost.
The McLaren is noticeably lighter to drive than most GT cars. Indeed, it beats the Bentley Continental GT by nearly three-quarters of a tonne, making it all the more agile.
The steering is right on point, weighting up perfectly to offer the precision you need to tackle bends quickly, and, in this regard, it’s among the best in its class.
It can cruise along slowly just fine, but when you’re hungry to get up to speed, it wastes no time at all, dealing with 0-62mph in a staggering 3.2 seconds and topping out at 203mph – and it’s raucous when it gets going.
Admittedly, although the suspension has been fitted with softer springs, the ride is still firmer than in most Grand Tourers.
Whether you could achieve a GT car’s true purpose – managing a 500-mile journey across Europe without losing the feeling in your legs – remains to be seen.
That said, the suspension is still well-damped, considering its enthusiastic characteristics. Meanwhile, the ability to raise the nose over speedbumps and the luxurious touches in the cabin certainly make it easier to live with than any other McLaren.
The McLaren GT is a lovely car to drive – and it’s just a smidgen less ferocious than the manufacturer’s other cars.
But really it’s a halfway house, as it’s far less forgiving than the likes of a bulky Bentley Continental GT.
On the other hand, this is a McLaren, so we shouldn’t be expecting anything else. However, it certainly blurs the lines between racer-supercar and Grand Tourer.
At least it means you can thunder across the continent and power slide around the twisty backroads of the French Riviera with a warm backside.
And you’ve got the satisfaction that your golf clubs can come along too.
Words: Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist – tweeting @carwriteups