McLaren says this is a new kind of grand tourer. A lighter, more dynamic, more, er, McLaren-y kind of grand tourer. It exists because the 570GT didn’t quite hit all its marks. It was gorgeous, rapid and more practical than the 570S, but the feedback from the punters was that they wanted a car like that but even more so. And the GT is the result.
It's anything but a softened-off, reskinned and renamed 570GT. It has its own bodywork, its own specification of carbonfibre monocell, the 4.0-litre engine from the 720S – albeit with smaller turbochargers and high-compression pistons – and the Proactive Chassis Control suspension also developed for the 720S. Its steering, brakes and stability system all have a bespoke tune, while Pirelli has provided a new P Zero tyre with a compound that has a broader envelope of ability, particularly on wet roads.
The engine has been lowered to provide more luggage space, while the ride height has been raised so that, with the nose lift, the GT will get over the same speed hump as a Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Inside, there’s a new instrument pack and sat-nav five times faster than the previous version. Yet the price is a surprisingly modest – by McLaren standards – £163,000. Perhaps that’s why the company expects it to account for 25% of sales. And no, there's no Spider version in the current product plan, which extends up to 2023. The GT is a standalone model.
Yet despite the fact that 60% of the parts on this car are new, it feels neither like a new kind of McLaren nor a new kind of grand tourer. It feels like a McLaren. And I have no issue with that.
How does the GT mix up the established McLaren formula?
Interior quality has taken a big step forward over the 570GT, but there’s no more room for you, even though there’s now 570 litres of luggage space – segment-leading if you forget the stuff people carry on the back seats of 2+2 rivals. It feels cosy and intimate in here, not expansive and luxurious as you’d find in a traditional grand tourer like the Aston Martin DB11 or Bentley Continental GT.
The engine is no quieter but uses sound-deadening material and exhaust tuning to sweeten its voice, yet it still sounds sharp and urgent. If McLaren wanted the rumble and thunder you’d more traditionally associate with a grand tourer, it would have needed to fit a cross-plane crankshaft, which would have been a ballsy move for sure but perhaps more in keeping with the brief. Even on part throttle in top gear with the exhaust valves closed, you're aware of the V8's raw-sounding presence.