10 months ago
Automaker McLaren traces its DNA and heritage back to Bruce McLaren, the famed driver, innovator and racing team entrepreneur whose legend grew along with the entire sport of F1 racing. As such, since its relaunch into the automotive market in 2010, the company has focused on producing immaculate, exotic automobiles for the track and the highways with distinctively aggressive design and performance capabilities. With the introduction of the 570S, McLaren brought all of its exotic supercar appeal into a more accessible price range, placing a lot of colorful, powerful metal in more and more driveways through a network of what is currently 23 dealerships in the US. And now, the more recent introduction of $198,000 570GT takes that price accessibility and adds in some welcome suspension comfort and design options that bring the car into the realm of an everyday driver, while not losing a single whit of the marque’s track-ready DNA.
Exterior: McLaren’s design team elongated and elevated the rear roofline of the shorter-cut 570S to accommodate a unique, and actually very practical, side-opening glass panel that gives access to a leather-lined compartment area called a touring deck. With the existing front trunk, there’s about 12 cubic feet of storage area in the two-seat 570GT, comparable, claims the company, to the trunk space of a Ford Focus. This added space opens up the idea of an everyday use two-seater; a car whose focus isn’t necessarily so singularly on a “drive” experience. Think grocery shopping, antiquing weekends, outdoor activities and so on. While not properly called a hatchback per se (really it presents more of a fastback profile), this innovation is game-changing in the exotic car world. Other than that, the GT’s curb stance is pure menacing McLaren, with all the gorgeous low-swept intake, structural blading and sculpted aerodynamics that mark this vehicle as a supercar. Pull up to the valet, pop open the dramatic up-swinging doors, and you won’t have to light an applause sign to make a grand entrance.
Engine: The transmission and power plant settings feature three selectable modes: Normal, Sport, and Track. And true to the GT, or grand touring, nature of the car’s moniker, the Normal settings evidence a somewhat more civilized, comfortable performance nature, working with the car’s softer suspension to absorb the bump and grind of city and highway driving. Similarly, while most exotics sputter and protest a bit in start-and-stop congestion, the 570GT’s burly 562hp twin-turbo V8 was smooth and decidedly not finicky in traffic. But it is “grand touring” with a decidedly McLaren flavor: Out on the open road and in Sport mode, there is a track-inspired and welcome nose-heavy feel to the handling (owing to the car’s mid-engine design), improving nimbleness and precision as a quick toe stab and paddle shift drop-click on the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission delivers instant access to the unbridled power of the 32-valve engine. Power availability throughout the gear range is uncanny; even if you make a gearing mistake, the car is forgiving. Braking is decisive, solid and not skittish; again, in a welcome nod to track readiness, you’ll need to mash a bit to stop, and that’s a good thing. The 570GT is a superhero on the highway, and on the track, a demi-god: 0 to 60mph in 2.8 seconds, 0 to 100mph in 6.1 seconds, with a top speed of 204mph with the proper settings in place.
Interior: Again, in a nod to racing, the 570GT’s interior is simple and minimal, but with an effect that is more artful than technical. Eight-way leather racing seats cosset without constricting, leather covers nearly every surface, clear digital gauges tell the tale without being overly dramatic. The flat-bottom racing steering wheel can be electronically positioned for perfect fist fit and the thin, elongated paddle shifts drip perfectly into the middle and ring-fingers for point-and-shoot shifting. The main touchpad control surface/navigation screen is an exercise in intuitive digital operation, again, with a minimum of theatrics. Physical buttons and switches comprise the lower console area, and, again, are keyed to the vital functions you need access to and easily comprehended. One very noticeable upgrade to the luxury side of the equation: the top-of-dash mounted tweeter and the yellow door-mounted speaker cones of a top-grade Bowers & Wilkins audio system, for those times when you want to listen to something besides the lively melodies of the exhaust symphony. My guess is that won’t be too often, but it’s nice to know it’s there.
Running the Numbers
Engine: 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged DOHC 32-valve V8
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode
Power: 562hp @ 7,500 rpm
Torque: 443 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Zero to 60mph: 2.8 seconds
Zero to 100mph: 6.1 seconds
Top speed: 204 mph
Base price: $198,000