McLaren takes the fight to Bentley and Aston Martin with its new grand tourer
McLaren’s new GT, Gaurav Gill’s Arjuna nomination, ten years of the VW Polo and lots more
McLAREN HAS REVEALED THE FOURTH model in its ambitious Track25 product expansion plan. Called simply McLaren GT, it's a grand tourer that picks up where the 570GT left off, and is a response to customer requests for an even more rounded two-seat model – one that combines supercar capabilities with attributes more usually associated with traditional GTs, such as a focus on comfort, on-road useability and increased luggage space.
Despite this being an all-new model, underneath the bodywork is the familiar pairing of a carbonfibre tub chassis and a 4-litre twinturbocharged V8 – but with a suite of changes to suit the GT's more laid-back character. The tub is a heavily revised version of that used on the 720S, and is now called Mono Cell II-T to denote its touring focus. It has been reshaped principally to facilitate a larger load area above the engine, McLaren's engineers setting the V8 lower in the chassis and repackaging the exhaust to create a luggage space of 420 litres. For reference, a Ford Focus offers 375 litres. A further 150 litres is available under the front bonnet, combining for a 570-litre total – 10 more than a Volvo V90 estate. Such is the way the storage space has been designed, it's even possible to pack two sets of skis, if you don't mind them poking between you and your passenger.
Despite its grand tourer aspirations, the GT is strictly a two seater, which McLaren insists is what buyers want. The dash layout is very similar to that of Sports Series models such as the 570GT, but the formula has been refined with an emphasis on improved materials and new tech. A substantial upgrade to the infotainment system will be welcome news for current McLaren customers – an essential consideration given this car is being pitted against rivals from Bentley and Aston Martin. Machined aluminium and new leathers are interior highlights, bringing a hike in perceived quality. Creating an airy feel are glazed C-pillars, like those on the 720S, along with an optional electrochromic glass roof. New interior finishes, including an industry-first application of a cashmere fabric blend, will be available for those wanting something different to the usual nappa leather.
However, the cabin's proportions are mostly unchanged from those of other McLarens, so regardless of the spacious and airy feeling, the driver and passenger still sit close together and low to the ground, revealing a compromise in the decision to maintain a mid-engined, two-seat layout. Other common grand touring elements such as a substantial centre console or a wrap-around dashboard are also glaringly absent.
Typically for McLaren, performance has not been compromised, with the GT featuring a derivative of the V8 found in the 720S. Designated M840TE, here it produces 611bhp (99bhp less than in the 720S), with 630Nm of torque available between 5500 and 6500rpm. Ninety-five per cent of that peak torque figure is available from 3000rpm, so the GT should
offer considerable low-end shove. Power is sent to the rear wheels only via the same seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and open differential found in other McLarens. The performance figures are deeply impressive: 100kmph in 3.2sec, 200kmph in nine seconds and a top speed of 327kmph. Helping out is a relatively low kerb weight – at 1530kg the GT is significantly lighter than an Aston Martin DB11 V8 (1685kg) and even undercuts the new Porsche 911 Carrera 4S (1565kg).
Despite the magic-carpet ride quality associated with the 720S's hydraulically crosslinked Proactive Chassis Control suspension, the GT instead uses a more traditional setup borrowed from the Sports Series models. However, for this application the adaptive dampers have a wider range of operation between their softest Comfort and hardest Track modes.
Additionally, the GT features an updated version of the 720S's Optimal Control Theory algorithm, which scans the road to prepare the dampers for any incoming surface irregularities.
The wheels are 20 inches in diameter at the front, 21 inches at the rear, and the GT retains hydraulic power-assisted steering, so McLaren's finely-wrought steering feedback and accuracy should be present and correct. Cast-iron brakes are standard, but buyers can specify an optional combination of carbon-ceramic brakes and forged alloy wheels.
The all-new exterior design is unique to the GT and has a more understated aesthetic than found on its Sports and Super Series siblings. At almost 4.7 metres, the GT is the longest McLaren yet, Speedtail and F1 GTR Longtail aside. The smoother, less aggressive nose and side profile may lack the innovation of a 720S, but the GT has been designed to appeal to a more conservative audience. McLaren has also emphasised practical elements such as approach and departure angles to aid the negotiation of those tricky mountain or beachside holiday-home driveways.
The GT starts at a price point that is much lower than that of the DB11 AMR and probably won't be too far away from the price of a 992-generation Porsche 911 Turbo S when it arrives later this year. The GT is available to order now, with the first deliveries due before the end of the year.
THE GT HAS BEEN DESIGNED TO APPEAL TO A MORE CONSERVATIVE AUDIENCE
Below: Higher ride height should increase the GT's useability. Top right: It may be a grand tourer, but driver and passenger still sit low down and close together