A supercar can be a lot of things, but “practical” isn’t typically one of them.
Engine: Twin-turbo 3.8L V8
Power: 562 hp, 443 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 7-speed DSG
0-60 mph: 3.4 seconds
Top speed: 204 mph
Fuel Economy: 19 mpg combined
Price: Starts at US$198,950
When customers want practicality thrown into the mix, however, supercar manufacturers search for ways to oblige. Porsche, Maserati, Aston Martin and Lamborghini are all branching out into four-door models of one type or another, and even Ferrari produces four-seat, all-wheel-drive hatchbacks … all in the name of practicality.
What you see here is McLaren’s answer not only to its rivals, but to customers who have asked for something more practical and usable day to day. Only it applies a much lighter touch to get there.
The 570GT is the second of three body styles (alongside the coupe and forthcoming convertible) forming part of the company’s new entry-level Sports Series. Those two letters indicate its orientation, but where some automakers use the GT handle to connote a performance model, McLaren uses it here in its original sense: arguably more than any of the company’s other products to date, the 570GT is a Grand Tourer. It’s still a McLaren — which means a two-seat, mid-engined layout — but it adopts a relatively softer demeanor and some “practical” measures.
“Softer” Doesn’t Mean It’s Gone Soft
Chief among the “practical measures” is the “touring deck” (McLaren-speak for luggage compartment) fitted behind the seats, above the engine compartment. While the bodywork is identical to the 570S from the A-pillar forward, behind the cockpit it’s toned down somewhat by the sloping roofline that encompasses the luggage bay. Its carbon-framed glass lid fills in where the flying buttresses would be, with a lip spoiler added at the trailing edge to balance it aerodynamically.
The suspension is also a touch softer and the cockpit more pampering, capped by a panoramic roof to let more sunlight in. The result feels more luxurious than the 570S — with more leather, more glass, better sound insulation, soft-closing doors, and power everything — and can also accommodate more gear than the front trunk could on its own. Perfect, in other words, for a transcontinental blast over a long weekend.
ALSO SEE: 2016 McLaren 570S Review
Purists may be alarmed by the notion of a “softer” approach from a performance powerhouse like McLaren, but after a day spent behind the wheel, we were left convinced that Woking’s latest is anything but soft. Even after driving it back-to-back with the tighter 570S, for comparison’s sake, we were hard-pressed to tell the dynamic difference between the two — though the differences are there.
McLaren fitted springs 15 percent softer at the front and 10 percent at the rear, but the adjustable dampers can easily stiffen things up again. The exhaust is quieter, but sportier pipes are available (and were pleasingly fitted to our tester). The customer can still choose from the same array of seats, though most in the GT’s case will likely go for the cushier thrones, which we found a little lacking in the side bolsters but altogether entirely comfortable.
Something’s Missing Here
The biggest difference as far as performance goes is the brakes. Where the 570S gets carbon-ceramic rotors as standard, the 570GT sticks with steel. That, in our view, represents a step backward — and one difficult to justify, considering that (at $198,950) the GT is priced a good $14k higher than the S coupe. You can spec the composite brakes on the GT, but that only drives the price higher by another $8,850. The strategists in Woking figure that the kind of buyer who’d be attracted to the 570GT over the 570S likely won’t miss the ceramics, and isn’t as likely to take it to the track.
The cost of the extra equipment also helps justify the discrepancy somewhat, but when it comes strictly to the anchors, we can’t quite get past the “pay more for less” proposition. At least not in the same way we could so many slow-moving trucks and rental hatchbacks on the twisting roads along our drive in the Canary Islands.
A Practically Perfect Performance Machine
Fortunately, the brakes were the only part of the 570GT that even approached coming up short. Power comes in spades from McLaren’s familiar 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, sending the same 562 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels as the 570S. Because of the extra hundred pounds the GT carries over the S, it’s a couple of tenths slower (though hardly lethargic) to 60 mph at 3.4 seconds.
But that difference will be negligible to all but the most performance-obsessed, who would likely be more inclined towards the 570S than the GT at ay rate. At no point during our romp across Tenerife — from the Atlantic sea level all the way up to the celestial observatory atop the volcano and back down again — did we find ourselves wanting for more power or performance than the 570GT had to offer.
Tellingly, this is the first McLaren launch that didn’t involve driving on track. But for driving on public roads, the 570GT didn’t just prove to be “enough.” The combination of a small-displacement V8 with a pair of spools yields intoxicating power delivery across the rev range, and though turbos get a bad rap for muffling engine noise, in McLaren’s case, we only find it adds a level of drama to the symphony. The crisp gearshift begs to swap ratios at every opportunity, happy though it is to squirt around in third through the twisty bits.
We found the suspension to offer just the right mix of control and communicative roll. Our favorite part may very well be the steering, the calibration of which McLaren has proven itself singularly adept, but the real magic is how it all comes together into one symbiotic experience that just begs to be driven.
The manufacturer cites the chief competitors for the Sports Series as the Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo or GT3. Those are worthy adversaries, but we get the feeling that most customers considering the 570GT, specifically, have already decided to go with the McLaren, and are just trying to sort out which one. The question, then, is whether we (were we fortunate enough to have such a choice to make) would get the 570S or the 570GT. And the answer will inevitably be a matter of taste … and purpose.
The Verdict: 2017 McLaren 570GT Review
For this writer, the prospect presented by the 570S of a (relatively) less costly version with a touch more performance capability seems a no-brainer. Others, however, may be drawn towards what could very well be the ideal blend of performance and practicality, and they wouldn’t be wrong for it. The arrival of the Spider version next year will inevitably make the decision that much harder. But as it stands, if a parcel shelf and slightly softer springs are what it takes to turn the notion of using a McLaren as a daily driver from dream to reality, then count us on board for the long haul to whatever glamorous seaside retreat beckons the 570GT’s arrival.
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