This unique load area is presumably why a convertible isn’t within the product plan, very much like one would suit the target market. The tub is clothed in mostly aluminum bodywork, with a touch composite here and there. The 4.0-liter M840TE engine essentially carries over from the 720S, but it’s significantly detuned and revised. Hardware and calibration changes include new turbochargers to scale back lag, a flatter torque curve from 2,500-7,000 rpm, higher compression ratio and kit shifts with the more visceral edges rounded off. All of it’s aimed at making the McLaren GT more driveable day-to-day. Performance is rated at 612 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, which is still sufficient to hit 60 mph from rest in 3.1 seconds, crack 0-124 mph in nine dead, and achieve 203 mph flat out.
The suspension is based around the Sports Series models but borrows Proactive adaptive damping from the 720S, which effectively learns from previous scenarios to predict what the damping will need to deal with next and adjusts to suit. The focus on comfort and refinement extends to extra soundproofing, thicker laminated glass, and softer engine mounts to help damp down frequencies that might buzz through the carbon fiber structure. Even the 20-inch front and 21-inch rear P Zero tires have been developed for a little extra squish in the sidewalls and reduced road noise. But despite the focus on refinement and luxury this being longer than any other Sports or Super Series McLaren, the 3,384-lb GT is only around 70-lb heavier than its 570GT predecessor, which was 5.9 inches shorter
First Impressions: Exterior Design
McLaren often presents its designs adhere to a form-follows function philosophy, and that’s certainly the case with the curious looking GT: requirements for extra luggage space and ground clearance give it a more upright, bulkier ,horizontal side profile with highly pronounced overhangs front and rear. Dark colors soften the looks and help legitimize the GT as a more sophisticated quite McLaren, but it is a stretch to call it elegant or beautiful.
If the shape a part of the planning is questionable, the function side is more successful, if imperfect. The raised front induces less fear once you drive over a hindrance (the 10-degree approach angle are often increased to 13 degrees with the optional nose lift – a DB11 compares with 11 degrees) and gives you a deep frontal luggage area of 150 liters.
McLaren has reduced the height of the mid-mounted engine to create more luggage space, gone to great lengths to reduce heat soak, and attractively trimmed the rear luggage bay in either Super Fabric trim or leather. In practice, though, this is an awkward cargo area that’s possibly best filled by emptying a suitcase of clothes evenly over it.
Interior Design & Features
The interior architecture is clearly derived from Sports Series models with its floating center console, but there’s some successful GT garnish to help differentiation, including beautiful machined aluminum paddle shifters and rotary controls, and deeper padding for the sports seats too. These are still positioned right down on the floor and offer strong support under heavier cornering, but the extra squish in the headrests and seat squab in particular offer welcome extra comfort.
Also new is that the infotainment, never previously a McLaren strength. It’s said to be five times faster than the previous system and features HERE mapping and real-time traffic information. It’s certainly an improvement and perfectly usable, if inferior to mainstream systems from the likes of BMW.
Our test car had a painted composite roof, but we also jumped in one with the optional electrochromic glass roof, which darkened at the touch of a button and added to the light, airy feel of a cabin that’s already high on visibility.
We tested the McLaren GT on suitably dreamy roads around St Tropez and Nice in France, including the iconic Route Napoleon and some urban routes that helped sense-check the GT’s usability.
As might be expected, the McLaren GT brings some unique attributes to the GT market, for good and for bad. Versus the front-engined competition, the GT provides excellent forward visibility and a much sportier feeling seating position. It feels unusually light, low and agile, and its ride quality is mostly superb, though mid-corner bumps can still occasionally thwack through the carbon-fiber structure. A drastic reduction in road noise and resonance versus the 570S also brings it into line with expectations at this end of the market. But the gravelly, agitated growl of its flat-plane crank V8 is incongruous when the rich, sophisticated bass of an Aston V8 or V12 would appear much more appropriate. Nonetheless, you’ll certainly enjoy an extended journey during a good amount of comfort from this driving seat.
As McLaren promises, the GT can still intensify to the plate once you work it hard over an excellent road. It rides uneven tarmac with swan-like composure, and though there’s more body roll than a 570S, the GT contains its mass well and turns in, grips and pivots around your hips with a balance and purity only a car with mid-engined supercar ingredients could deliver. But there’s always the nagging feeling that the same-price 570S Spider is sharper, more incisive and more feel some still: its steering has a far more vivacious crackle of feedback, its turn-in is keener and the balance is simply purer and more interactive.
One element that remains familiar is the engine. Despite its revisions, the 4.0-liter engine still suffers from too much lag and a soggy throttle (and triggers the traction control too readily when the boost does kick), but there’s no mistaking its energy and hunger to rev right out to 7,500rpm when fully lit, at which point the GT is explosively rapid. There’s also no mistaking the industrial noise (even with our car’s sports exhaust), the delivery and the punch of the gear shifts very much betray the supercar origins too.