Automotive review: The new McLaren GT

We loaned one for roughly 48 hours — carefully avoiding the Dh 875,000 retail price — drove the nuts out of it and here we are to spill the beans on the matter



by

George Kuruvilla

Published: Thu 26 May 2022, 7:48 PM

The McLaren GT is new. It’s swanky. And surely, it is quick, coz it’s a McLaren! But the question is, “Does it live up to its name i.e., GT or Grand Turismo?” Is it a car that you’d pick out of your multi-million-dirham garage to travel the long haul, in comfort and with an acceptable amount of luggage?

To answer this question, we loaned one for roughly 48 hours — carefully avoiding the Dh 875,000 retail price — drove the nuts out of it and here we are to spill the beans on the matter.

Supercar architecture

The McLaren GT, like every other modern McLaren, is an evolution of the one before it. It’s got a sharp, short and tapering snout. It sits low to the ground and has a tear drop shape that helps it cut through wind with ease. Place it next to the wild 720S and the family resemblance becomes apparent, but it comes off as a lot more restrained, thanks to the conventionally-styled LED luminaires in the front and the fixed spoiler in the rear, as opposed to the active one on the 720S, amongst other things. Also note that the 20-inch and 21-inch wheels, front and rear, are some of the biggest we have seen on any supercar, which, in ways, emphasises its dynamic abilities.

Now, the key fob itself is an interesting one! The GT has frunk (front trunk) and a trunk. And you can open either by clicking the right part of the car graphic on the key fob. That level of detail deserves appreciation! You can unlock the car by pressing the McLaren logo on it, and by pulling the concealed handles the doors swing upwards, almost like ‘Lambo doors’, dare I say. This is a party trick that never gets old and drew attention wherever I went.

Once inside, the car’s luxuriousness becomes apparent. The dual-tone interior is generously upholstered with soft nappa leather. And the flat-bottom steering wheel with its aluminium trims and the perforated metallic speaker covers for the ‘Bowers and Wilkins’ system add some jazz to the cabin. The portrait orientation of the 7-inch infotainment screen is also a welcome change from the usual.

From a visual point of view, the GT proves its supercar worthiness.

Supercar performance

On the move, in Comfort mode, there is little intimidating about it. They’ve adjusted the throttle mapping to provide a more linear (almost delayed) power delivery to make it less ‘supercar scary’. But as you dip into the gas pedal, everything gets amplified, the steering becomes more direct, and the exhaust noise gets louder and then you truly get a sense of the beast within.

With launch control activated, the 620 PS GT can sprint from the start to the quarter mile mark in 11 seconds, hitting the 100 km/h mark in just 3.2 seconds on the way. And it makes a lovely raucous bark as the rpms rise and drop.

Around corners and long sweeping curves, the GT feels planted. It grips so well even with 225/35/R20 (front) and 295/30/R21 (rear) tyres, which are relatively skinny for a supercar. It also gives you the opportunity to kick the rear out, with a generous application of the throttle. Similarly, even under heaving braking, the GT displayed great composure, all thanks to the cast iron discs (367mm front; 354mm rear) that are clamped by callipers (4-piston front & rear). If for any reason you find an inadequacy or wish to do track time, you can always opt for the carbon ceramic discs.

Once again, it establishes its supercar worthiness, this time dynamically.

GT quotient

But to earn the GT badge, this new McLaren must pass the ultimate fire test — it has to be spacious, comfortable and convenient. Let’s see if it fulfils some of the mandates…

This McLaren was grown in every direction to make it more accommodating. It is almost 4.7 metres long, the equivalent of a mid-size saloon and it is almost 2.1 metres wide, the equivalent of a mid-size SUV. Just from these numbers, you know it will have more internal space than its siblings. And as anticipated, it can accommodate two 6-feet tall adults comfortably. Unfortunately, some rivals provide a 2+2 layout (4-passenger), and hence, it falls short. Also, the door cut-outs are a squeeze and there is some theatre involved in entering and exiting the vehicle. Thankfully, they have leather plastered all over the door sill which makes it easier to slide in and out.

How about luggage capacity? The truth is, within the cabin, there aren’t too many spots or slots to place your knickknacks. There is a leather pocket under the seat and a cleverly concealed flap in the door that can keep a phone.

McLaren claims the GT has 570-litre cargo space, which is fantastic, but numbers don’t tell the whole story. The 150-litre frunk is decently sized and is large enough to hold a cabin baggage. But the 420 litres they advertise for the trunk is a bit of a technicality. You can’t fit a large suitcase in there which some other GTs do. If you need to make use of the space, use soft bags, they imply. But it does fit a golf bag!

Also, by adding a trunk, McLaren have taken away your opportunity to show off the engine to your friends.

Dynamically, there are many things expected of a GT. It must be easy to drive, comfortable and in some sense, economical too. Happy to say that the GT fulfils these duties rather well!

It rides better than most sportscars, without taking anything away from the handling. The suspension setup is a bit of a miracle work. It coasts over most bumps, unlike a Lamborghini that is built to rattle your spine. Again, it isn’t plush like a high-end Audi or a Bentley, but it is comfortable — the word is compliant.

It also shines in the fuel economy department. After almost 100 kms of mixed driving, the number indicated was 9.9km/l which is remarkable to the point of being unbelievable. Certainly, McLaren have understood that leaving customers stranded in the middle of nowhere isn’t going to do their reputation any good.

In terms of convenience, all drivers will appreciate the hydraulic lift system that raises the nose of the GT. Apparently, it gives it the approach angle of a Mercedes-Benz C-Class to avoid scrapping the under nose, but the resolution of the back-up camera isn’t the best.

Verdict

The McLaren GT embodies the stuff that supercar dreams are made of. The stunning low-slung body, attention-grabbing dihedral doors, turbo thrust, and impeccable dynamics make it a package that cannot be ignored. But as a grand tourer, it hits the target on some occasions while falling short on some others. Nonetheless, it is a great first attempt by McLaren and deserves to be on your shortlist.

wknd@khaleejtimes.com


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