Our ‘grand touring’ Mclaren has departed. Did we get to the bottom of what it’s all about?
IT LOOKS LIKE A SUPERCAR AND SOUNDS like a supercar; it probably even smells and tastes like a supercar. Yet look for the Mclaren GT on its maker’s website and you will find it not alongside the 720s, the 765s and the Artura under the ‘Supercars’ section, but on its lonesome under the heading ‘GT’. A grand tourer it is, then. Possibly.
It’s still hard to imagine that it might be one when you open the dihedral door – like supercars have – and then lower yourself way down into its driver’s seat, supercar-style. Or when you start the engine and are greeted not by a warm, rich, muted hum, but by the coarse, flat tone we know well from other Mclarens. Y’know, the supercars.
It’s only when you pull away that the GT’S GT side really makes itself felt, and it strikes you within just a few metres: no supercar has a ride that’s this relaxed, this absorbent, this comfortable. Is that enough to make it a car you’d want to go grand touring in, though, or at the very least one you might want to use every day, as Mclaren suggests you could? That’s what we set out to discover by running GT06 MCL for several months and through some of the worst weather of the year.
Stuart Gallagher had the first stint with our GT’S key and was quick to discover long journeys were indeed among this 612bhp, 203mph car’s fortes. He found he happily used it for trips where he’d leave a 720S at home and noted that he arrived at his destinations feeling ‘calmed rather than frazzled’. When John Barker took his turn, he praised the GT for the way it was happy to mooch and commented that he found it more everyday useable than he’d expected.
Inevitably, there was a trade-off for these abilities. While the GT was still astonishingly fast when you got the opportunity to wind it up – its detuned version of the 720’s 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 saw to that – when really pushing on its chassis wasn’t quite as crisp and reassuring in its feedback as those of other Mclarens. For this reason, Barker admitted he had no inclination to wind back the stability control. As a counterpoint to that, my own time with the GT coincided with some particularly foul weather and I found its relatively relaxed demeanour made it far more enjoyable to use in such conditions than a more conventional, more highly strung supercar would have been.
Helping the GT’S wet-weather appeal was its feelsome hydraulically assisted steering – something we all agreed was a genuine treat to experience. Something else that we were all in agreement on was that our car’s full Batmobile colour scheme, both outside and in, was far too dour. A switch to some diamond-cut alloys for the last few weeks of our loan took the edge off the unremitting blackness, and prior to this we went with the cheaper option of leaving the car covered
in a layer of wintry grime. (OK, we also did this because nothing looks cooler than a properly filthy supercar. I mean grand tourer.)
Reliability-wise, our GT didn’t miss a beat. Its fuel calculator was rather optimistic, though, sometimes claiming mpg averages well into the 30s when around 20mpg was closer to the truth. In practical terms it had an Ok-sized front boot – on a par with a rear-drive 911’s – and in theory offered nearly three times as much capacity again in the rear. However, whatever you placed in the long, narrow and shallow space above the engine and beneath the hatchback – an area that Barker nicknamed ‘the trouser press’ – was visible through the rear glass, and if you had lots of bags you’d lose your rearwards view too.
But as long as you didn’t want to take the kitchen sink with you, you could conceivably use the Mclaren GT for grand touring, and you could absolutely use one every day, all year round, if you felt so inclined. The question is, would you? It’s much easier to imagine someone having a Range Rover or RS6 or Bentley for such duties, with a more focused 720S or similar on standby for when the conditions and journey suit. But if you really crave that supercar-style buzz more of the time, but without all the compromises usually associated with doing big miles in a supercar, Mclaren’s grand tourer has you covered.
Date acquired December 2021 Duration of test 4 months Total test mileage 2391 Overall mpg 20.5 Total costs £0 Purchase price £170,700 Value today £159,900