How do you imagine a grand tourer? As a big, heavy and powerful coupe with lashings of leather and walnut inside? If so, McLaren would like to reset your expectations. The new McLaren GT bears a close resemblance to the out-and-out track-bred supercars in its range. But take a closer look and you’ll be surprised at how practical, spacious and refined the newcomer could be for an extended continental tour.
Driver and passenger are protected by McLaren’s immensely strong carbon-fibre monocoque, entitled Monocell II-T. Driver safety aids include Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Dynamic Electronic Stability Control (DESC) and Traction Control System (TCS).
It’s not just what the McLaren GT does, it’s the way that it does it. The 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 develops 612bhp and 630Nm of torque, powering the rear wheels via a 7-speed seamless shift gearbox. Top speed is 206mph and 0-62mph takes an eye-blink 3.2 seconds. But McLaren’s engineers have also worked overtime to ensure that its supercar performance is both refined and exhilarating. 95% of the peak torque output is available between 3,000 and 7,250rpm, so you can kick back and relax if you want to while still making swift progress.
Great attention has been paid to suppression of noise, vibration and harshness; the light yet immensely strong carbon-fibre MonoCell II-T chassis means a supple ride is compatible with razor-sharp handling. So the McLaren GT can still thrill at high speed, but it’s effortless and easy to drive in town too. It’s everything a grand tourer should be.
Central to the McLaren GT’s remarkable combination of supple ride and precise handling is Adaptive Damping with Proactive Damping Control, which actively scans the road to prepare the dampers for any incoming surface irregularities. For larger ramps and bumps, a hydraulic lift system for the suspension can raise the ride height to 130mm. Inside, the heart of the McLaren GT’s cockpit is the McLaren Infotainment System II (MIS II) that combines a central portrait-format 7” touchscreen with a 12.3” driver TFT display. Navigation, voice control commands, Bluetooth connectivity, media player and DAB/AM/FM radio are controlled via this system.
Full LED headlights have automatic headlamp levelling and come on automatically when it’s raining or getting dark, while other thoughtful touches include a soft-close function for the spectacular dihedral doors and glazed tailgate. The seats, in Nappa leather are manually adjustable; McLaren’s aim with the GT was to keep weight to a minimum without compromising on luxury, and the addition of weighty electric seat adjusters would have run counter to the McLaren’s refreshing, rule-breaking ‘less is more’ ethos.
As a design, the GT is clearly a McLaren yet it’s more subtle and restrained than some. At 4.7 metres, it is also longer than any Woking stablemate apart from the Speedtail and sits slightly higher off the ground in deference to its grand touring purpose. Key to the McLaren GT’s grand touring credentials is the spacious rear luggage bay, accessed by a full-length glazed tailgate. There’s room for two sets of skis or a bag full of golf clubs back there, with all contents protected from the sun’s rays with a sound and solar film interlayer.
Capacity is 420 litres with a further 120 litres in the front compartment, providing more total luggage space than a Ford Focus. Driver and passenger have room to stretch out in sybaritic luxury; the cockpit is trimmed in softgrain leather (cashmere is an alternative), and there are cupholders, door pockets and stowage space aplenty. Infotainment is relayed via a clear central touchscreen and there’s not a trace of walnut veneer in sight.
McLaren describes the GT as a ‘rule-breaker’ because it challenges the established practice, using high technology materials to reduce weight and focusing on what the grand touring essentials; comfort, refinement, speed and practicality. It’s not laden down with ‘luxuries’ you’ll never use, nor is it held back by the weight of tradition. At just 1,530kg wet, it’s the lightest, fastest-accelerating grand tourer out there – and it redefines high-speed automotive luxury.