Altered animal or not, this mid-engined car’s true calling cards remain the incisiveness and purity of its handling. Long-legged luxury cruisers aren’t, by and large, anything like as precise, agile and lithe-feeling as this on sweeping roads, and they don’t deliver control feedback to your palms as faithfully.

Although the GT has McLaren’s usual three-position dynamics controller, it actually has only one calibration for its hydraulic power steering. And by simplifying their mission, McLaren’s development engineers have arrived at a steering compromise here that has ideal weight and pace; the former remaining constant even at low speeds for easy manoeuvring, and the latter as moderate and measured as ever. The steering filters out some wearing influences of camber and bump from the surface of the road but still gives plenty of information to come through, so you can gauge the car’s grip level really clearly at speed.

I couldn’t help thinking of the Ferrari Testarossa while driving this car. That, too, was a larger mid-engined supercar that made a surprisingly effective grand tourer

Despite the allegedly soft suspension, the GT hardly rolls when cornering at normal road speeds and it responds with crispness to steering inputs and settles smartly on its outside wheels. Vertical body control isn’t always so closely composed, but rarely is it seriously flustered by a mid-corner disturbance, so the GT can be placed accurately at all times and generally puts you at ease at speed. It sacrifices a shade of the rapier immediacy on turn-in that we’re used to from other McLarens, but plenty is left to impress.

High-speed handling stability is good, although outside-lane motorway composure is a little dependent on the selected dynamic mode. Comfort mode made the GT a bit too susceptible to long-wave body movement for the tastes of most testers, and while Sport stops the oscillation, it introduces unwanted bite in the primary ride. In neither setting is the easy, fluent poise and progressive high-speed body control you’d hope for in this car quite as perfectly conjured as it might be.

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The McLaren GT had slightly damp conditions to contend with at MIRA, but even in the dry it would have remained a good couple of seconds a lap slower than the average dry handling circuit lap time of Woking’s supercars over the past five years or so. And yet it would still be quicker than even the most powerful front-engined super-GTs by a similar margin in like-for-like conditions, being so much lighter, lower and fundamentally more agile.

You wouldn’t characterise the car as softly sprung on the evidence of its track handling. Roll and pitch are handled very tidily. The outright grip level of the P Zero tyres isn’t huge but it’s well balanced, so you can drive the car hard right up to its lateral limits. The front axle doesn’t have the tenacity of some McLarens but it doesn’t wilt under pressure midcorner and any rear breakaway is kept progressive by a mix of chassis and electronics as you add power.

McLaren GT comfort and isolation

This is where McLaren really needed to concentrate its efforts to move the usability needle of its model range with the GT; and while the body design does deliver a certain carrying capacity for the car, it takes a toll on high-speed rolling refinement. That’s because the space behind the seats into which you might load your golf clubs or fitted luggage doubles as a resonance chamber that gives noise and vibration travelling up from the 21in rear wheels an unimpeded route directly into the cockpit.

It’s road noise that seems to reverberate around inside that cavity mostly, with engine noise better suppressed at a cruise. Even so, despite McLaren’s efforts to dampen it with noise-cancelling tyres and various insulation measures, there’s a notable quantity of it. For what it’s worth, wind noise intrusion is low. And yet we recorded 74db of cabin noise for the GT at a 70mph cruise, at which speed a Continental GT would be registering only 66dB.

We touched on the strengths and weaknesses of the GT’s driving position earlier on. It could certainly be better supported in some ways, although it’s broadly comfortable. The ride is supple when set for comfort but not always as settled, still and composed at speed as we’d like.