From £165,4207

Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

This might be the first McLaren road car in which how fast you’re able to go has been considered of secondary importance to how you’re able to go fast; and how much you’re able to enjoy what you’re doing even when you’re going slowly, for that matter.

The facets of its performance that have been really sweated over, McLaren says, are things like the feel and progression of its brakes, the low-end engine response and drivability of its engine, and the flexibility and audible richness of the exhaust note.

Steering has perfect weight and pace and the GT responds crisply to your inputs. It feels athletic and precise in corners and there’s negligible body roll at road speeds

However, for reasons we’ll come to explain, we have doubts that the GT would be quite as hushed at a fast cruise as you might like a continent-crossing long-distance machine to be. One revision that would plainly pay off for a GT owner is how much more flexible the car’s performance is than the McLaren norm. The car’s 4.0-litre engine still feels like a significantly over-square, fast-revving, flat-cranked V8, and still revs beyond 8000rpm, but unlike other McLaren V8s it also wakes up and boosts from as little as 3000rpm, so you don’t feel the need to manage the gearbox constantly or keep the revs high to make it responsive.

The gearbox shifts cleverly and engages smoothly, too, so the GT certainly begins to feel instantly, breezily brisk across the ground, often rolling on quickly without even needing a downshift. It is, in some ways, a more relaxing McLaren. It’s fast in outright terms, too.

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On a slippery surface, it hit 60mph from rest in 3.3sec, ripping through the upper part of the rev range with vigour and drama. But it also needed only 5.0sec to get from 30mph to 70mph in fourth; a 12-cylinder Bentley Continental GT, with its 664lb ft, is no quicker in that respect.

Running with McLaren’s carbon-ceramic discs, brake pedal feel is good, making it easy to hold the car at a standstill and modulate deceleration smoothly. The car’s V8 is, like other McLaren units, somewhat flat and toneless to listen to on part-load and at ordinary crank speeds, but it can be made quiet enough, and pretty unobtrusive, over longer trips.