The latest addition to the McLaren lineup, the 570GT, is arguably the manifest definition of the modern exotic GT car – beautiful, fast, luxurious and sublimely civilized.
McLaren Automotive was founded in 2010 with the overt ambition of taking on the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche, in a market hungry for the latest and fastest supercars. Its first offspring was the sleek 12C coupe, launched a year later, with leading-edge systems often inspired by technologies developed in F1. It was powered by a twin-turbocharged, 3.8-litre V-8 engine developed by McLaren itself. The open-top 12C Spider came soon after, in 2012.
A flurry of new cars and variants followed closely, led by the spectacular P1, powered by a hybrid powertrain that developed a total of 903 horsepower. The 650S came next, then the 675LT, not to mention numerous racing and unique, ‘bespoke’ interpretations derived from all of the above.
With production and sales numbers increasing steadily, McLaren Automotive became profitable in only its third year of production, its distribution network also growing quickly. There are now three dealerships in this country, fed by Pfaff Automotive Partners, exclusive Canadian distributors for the brand. The newest is McLaren Montréal, open for business since August.
A tiger just slightly tamed
The current McLaren line-up has the P1 and track-only P1 GTR as its current ‘halo’ cars, in the Ultimate Series, the all-new 720S alone in the Super Series and four distinct models in the Sports Series. For 2017, the 570S Coupé, 570S Spider and ‘entry-level’ 540C coupé are joined by the new 570GT.
Built around the same, Monocell II carbon-fibre structure as the 570S and dressed with aluminum bodywork, the 570GT is powered by an identical mid-mounted, 562-hp, 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V-8 and designed to provide pleasures and capabilities beyond the mere enjoyment of maximum acceleration and lateral grip. It is, after all, the most luxurious McLaren ever, to quote this youngest of carmakers.
In this, the 570GT might yet be the truest modern interpretation of gran turismo, of machines that defined the notion of grand touring. Cars with exceptional performance and handling that can also be used and enjoyed fully on the road. Great classics such as the Ferrari 250 GTO, 275 GTB/4 or 365 GTB/4 Daytona, the Maserati Ghibli and Lamborghini Miura, to name but a few.
The most visible change, from the 570S, is the large glass panel that opens sideways, behind the cabin, from its rigid, carbon fibre body structure. It provides access to 220 litres of cargo volume, with notched rails to safely secure luggage. This ‘Touring Deck’ complements the 150 litres available in the tub-style storage under the front hood.
The 570GT also has its own fifteen-spoke alloy wheels, wrapped with special Pirelli P Zero PNCS tires designed to reduce noise and vibration thanks to a polyurethane layer inside. Cut in sizes 225/35ZR19 in front and 285/35ZR20 in the rear, they provide ample grip on the road, dry or wet, and should prove reasonably durable, with a treadwear index of 300.
Visible through the wheel spokes are the 570GT’s drilled and vented steel disc brakes, slightly smaller and slimmer than the carbon ceramic rotors on the 570S (370/350mm front/rear, versus 394/380) with four-piston calipers at all corners instead of the six-piston units in front, on the ‘S’. Braking power is abundant, with a firm pedal, good modulation and well-calibrated ABS keeping watch.
The suspension has three modes, with adjustable dampers linked to front and rear anti-roll bars. With steel springs softened by 15% in front and 10% at the rear, the 570GT rides very nicely in Normal mode, with just a touch of body roll in corners. Things firm up notably in Sport mode and there is still a Track mode, should you feel the need for more.
One marvelous feature is the electro-hydraulic pump that raises the front of the car by 4 centimeters (1.6 in) at the simple touch of a lever, which avoids scraping the 570GT’s delicate nose on steep driveways, bumps or curbs.
Quiet and serene mastery
The cabin is remarkably bright, with the large photo-sensitive glass panel above, and radiates discreet luxury and refinement, with prime stitched leather, aluminum moldings and fine carpets aplenty. All laid out in the modern, minimalist style favoured by McLaren. Accessories and systems abound, including the optional 12-speaker, 1,280-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system in our test car, complete with carbon fibre subwoofers.
McLaren controls are like no others. They follow their own logic and quickly make sense, thankfully. The steering wheel has a finely shaped, leather-draped rim and not a switch or button in sight – the polar opposite of what you find in a Ferrari F488, mannetino and all.
And yet, the various driving modes and systems are easily controlled and mastered with a cluster of buttons and rotary switches on the centre console and clear menus on the vertical touch screen above. The helmeted figure on the climate control screen is a clever nod to the 570GT’s sporting lineage.
The seats are nicely sculpted, if a little bulgy at the forward edge of the cushion. The two-position memory function is no luxury, since the adjustments are awkward and hidden under the inside front corner of the seats. Since the seat and steering retract when you turn the engine off and do not automatically resume their positions when you fire up again, you really want these memory buttons.
The huge ‘dihedral’ doors sweep open forward in ever spectacular fashion. They are impeccably balanced and easy to maneuver and yet, benefit from the ‘soft-close’ feature usually seen on high-luxury sedans. You quickly learn to slide over the wide sill to get in, feet in first or last. Once inside, sizeable intrusions for the front wheels yield narrow footwells. With a flat footrest, an impeccable pair of slotted alloy pedals and no need for a third one, things are just fine, race car-style.
Visibility to the front and sides is nothing short of excellent, with the low, sloping nose. Slender mirrors are mounted high, on the thinnest of pods, well clear of the front pillar, so the driver easily sees the inside of a turn. The view out the rear, by contrast, is dismal through the centre-mounted mirror and all that sloping rear glass. The standard rear camera and ultrasound parking sensors are godsends.
On the road
On the road, with its wide, squat tires, the 570GT predictably follows tracks and ruts like a hunting dog. Such is the curse of modern sports cars. Steering is sharp and direct, the wheel shaking and twitching over cracks and short bumps. Otherwise, it just glides along smoothly, with unerring stability.
McLaren says the GT has a quieter exhaust than its S siblings but you could hardly tell with the deep growl that fills your ears in strong acceleration. The sound is unique and truly addictive.
Unfortunately, the deal with McLaren said no performance measures or track tests, and we kept our word. But we sure enjoyed the 570GT’s superb launch control. You simply flick the transmission switch in Sport mode, poke the Launch button, hold the brakes with your left foot and flatten the accelerator. The revs jump to 3,000 rpm, you let go of the brakes and the GT just rockets off ferociously, with only the slightest imaginable bit of wheelspin.
The traction is amazing, for such a powerful, rear-drive sports car. Clipping 100 km/h in a pinch over 3 seconds, as claimed by McLaren, feels about right, according to our internal steamboat count. This McLaren is a sweet missile and you never get tired of the sound, the torque, the rush.
In spite of all the added luxury touches and accessories, the 570GT is only about 40 kilograms heftier than its 570S sibling. It certainly is among the lightest of high-performance cars at only 1,350 kg, when all the weight-saving bits have been duly checked on the options list.
With supercar performance, swift handling and impeccable road manners, this newcomer definitely is part of a new breed of grand touring cars, or a pioneer thereof. You must simply remember to pack just as light.
- Model: 2017 McLaren 570 GT
- Price: $251,290 transport: $6,950 dealer preparation: $3,295 administration: $495 = $262,660
- Engine: 3.8-litre V-8 with twin turbochargers
- Peak output: 562 hp at 7 500 rpm
- Peak torque: 443 lb-ft at 6 500 rpm
- Transmission: Seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic
- Fuel Consumption (city/highway/combined): 16.5 / 7.4 L/100 km / 10.7 L/100 km (European norm)
- Length: 4,530 mm
- Width: 2,095 mm
- Height: 1,201 mm
- Wheelbase: 2,670 mm
- Weight (dry): 1,350 kg (with lightweight options)
- Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 3.4 seconds (claimed)
- Top speed: 328 km/h (claimed)