McLaren GT review

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The GT is a McLaren you might more easily be able to justify. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

The McLaren GT is a crucial model for the Woking maker, but it's far more of a McLaren than a GT. If you want one, you'll be fine with that.

Background

Can a McLaren ever be a proper GT - you know, like a Bentley Continental GT, an Aston Martin DB11 or a Ferrari Roma? Well this McLaren GT is probably about as close to being a Grand Tourer as any pure sports car model from the Working brand is likely to get. It's aimed at customers who liked the company's old 570GT but wanted something slightly more practical and luxurious - and maybe even a bit faster.

The McLaren GT was launched in 2019, then updated three years on to create the car we look at here. The recent changes are minor - a little extra refinement, lighter dihedral doors and some rationalised trim options. The GT is a model that's become a little forgotten in the McLaren line-up amidst all the hype surrounding much pricier designs from the brand like the 765 LT and the V6 hybrid Artura. But it's arguably more significant than either of those two cars for Woking's bottom line.

Driving Experience

With over 60% of its parts being completely new, the GT is very much a stand-alone model in the McLaren range. Think of it as a more accessible take on the company's 750S and you'll be pretty close to the mark. The 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 is basically the same as used in that car, but is de-tuned to 611bhp here (at 7,500rpm) and gets fitted with smaller turbochargers and high compression pistons. There's a 7-speed dual clutch paddle shift gearbox and the 62mph sprint is dispatched in just 3.1s, with 124mph flashing by in 9.0s en route to a top speed rated at 203mph. Over 95% of the V8's power is available from 3,000rpm, so mid-range acceleration is frantically quick.

Two rotary switches allow you to adjust the powertrain and handling settings through 'Comfort', 'Sport' or 'Track' modes. Through the turns, you'll notice the fact that this McLaren is lighter and more agile than most of its rivals. That's aided by the Proactive Chassis Control suspension system, which features sensors that proactively prime the dampers for tarmac irregularities. There's also a grippy set of bespoke Pirelli P Zero tyres. Body control is slightly softer than in other McLaren sports cars, but not by enough to make this a GT in the proper sense of the word. There's a little more refinement than with this Woking maker's other models too, but again (predictably), the improvement isn't really enough to make the car feel Aston-like in highway cruising. Mind you, the sound it makes is difficult to tire of. For town driving, ride height has been raised to the point where this McLaren can coast over speed humps as easily as any ordinary sports coupe or hot hatch.

Design and Build

You'd know this GT as McLaren at first glance - but perhaps a slightly less aggressive-looking one that in this case is only available as a coupe. It's based around a stretched version of the brand's usual 'Sport Series Monocell' chassis that delivers a 140mm body length increase over the 750S in order to provide for this GT model's required extra boot space. There's 570-litres of it, which is pretty impressive for a McLaren, accessed by a power-operated rear tailgate. The engine has been lowered to maximise cargo capacity. Interestingly, the designers claim that this model is the most aerodynamic series production car the company makes, thanks to the long tail and 'hammerhead'-style nose.

The marque's usual dihedral doors are retained, giving an exotic feel, and as part of the updates made to this car, they've been lightened to make entry and exit easier. A fractional 5mm wheelbase increase over the 750S (and the old 570GT) doesn't make much difference to cabin space. And as usual with this maker's sports cars, there are only two seats - in a class where many rivals are 2+2s with tiny but useful rear pews. Those front chairs are, thankfully, much better than the rather uncomfortable ones fitted to the 750S (and the old 570GT), power-operated and trimmed in soft grain aniline leather. Interior quality is a big step forward from that old 570 model too, helped by lashings of aluminium trim. You'd still find a Bentley Continental GT or an Aston Martin DB11 more luxurious, but the McLaren GT has a cosier and more intimate feel, which makes up for a lot.

Market and Model

The McLaren GT might not cost quite as much as you expect: think around £166,500 at the time of our test in Spring 2023, which isn't much more than less exotic (and heavier) rivals like the Audi R8 Performance or the Porsche 911 Turbo S. At first glance, rivals like the Ferrari Roma, the Aston Martin DB11 and the Bentley Continental GT Speed don't appear to cost that much more than this McLaren, but once you spec like-for-like, take it from us, the price difference would be vast.

Much of that is because, reacting to slow sales following this GT model's original 2020 launch, McLaren standardised three big options packages, all of which we have fitted here. There's the 'Luxe Pack' (with soft semi-Aniline leather for the upholstery and cabin trimming); the 'Premium Pack' (with a 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system, adaptive headlights, Cabin Air Purification and a powered tailgate); and the 'Practicality Pack' (with a nose lift system for getting over speed humps, a rear view camera, all-round parking sensors, power-folding mirrors and a luggage bay privacy cover). McLaren no longer requires GT owners to pay extra for a sports exhaust system either. The net result of all of this is a saving to GT owners of around £35,000.

Cost of Ownership

It's probably fair to say that residual values for the old 570GT were a bit softer than McLaren had hoped for, with some customers cycling through their ownership periods quite rapidly, some grumbling about things like the car's infotainment system and lack of aural fireworks. Those issues have both been fixed now and over-supply isn't going to be too much of an issue. In case you're interested, expect a combined cycle fuel economy figure of 23.7mpg, while emissions are rated at 270g/km.

Likely owners almost certainly won't care a fig about any of this. But even they might notice the substantial 37% Benefit-in-Kind tax rating that this GT incurs, meaning hefty annual tax bills. Group 50 insurance means that buyers will be keeping their brokers in Beaujolais too. Of course, many owners will acquire this McLaren as just one of a stable of models and will have negotiated their own multi-car deal with their insurer.

Continuing with the bad news, you don't get the seven year 'free' servicing package that Ferrari offers, so you'll have to pick up the tab yourself for routine maintenance, which will be required every 12,400 miles or 12 months, depending on which comes round sooner. Every second year the car will need a full oil change too. With expensive consumables and high labour rates, you'll certainly need to know what you're letting yourself in for. What else? Well the paint surface is warranted for three years, visible cosmetic corrosion for five years and perforation corrosion of the vehicle body is covered for ten years.

Summary

If you've been waiting for a McLaren practical enough not to be merely a high days and holidays indulgence, then this isn't it. You'll need either the brand's forthcoming SUV or the future rumoured 2+2 model for that. But the GT certainly has its place in the range, usefully building on the rather compromised day-to-day usability of the old 570GT and bringing the 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 powerplant from the 750S in at a slightly more accessible price point.

In terms of rivals, don't think Bentley Continental GT or Aston Martin D11; we'd say an Audi R8 Performance or a Porsche 911 Turbo S is closer to what you get here. And for not much more than the cost of either of those two cars, this McLaren feels a good deal more exotic. The recent changes haven't altered its proposition much; it's still not a true GT. But it is a true McLaren. And that's what really matters.

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