BRIEF­ING

McLaren takes the fight to Bent­ley and Aston Martin with its new grand tourer

Evo India - - CONTENTS -

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

WORDS by JORDAN KATSIANIS

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

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