Confession time: it was my first instinct to dismiss the McLaren 570GT out of hand, before I ever laid my grubby hands on its rockin’ teal-blue body. There were good reasons. McLaren blew away all of us at AUTOMOBILE with the stellar 570S, enough to win a 2016 All-Star trophy, and I thought it was just perfect out of the box, thank-you-very-much. A slightly softer car that’s slower off the line and easier on the coccyx? Who needs that when the 570S is already so well balanced?
I underestimated the 570GT, but I’m not too proud to admit I was misguided. Although the grand-touring-oriented Brit appears almost pointlessly similar to its 570S sibling while being both slower and more expensive, Woking’s tweaking of the formula yields surprising results. Like the 570S, the 570GT offers a positively wondrous driving experience, while its small but thoughtful conveniences made me all the more willing to not only get behind the wheel, but stay there for longer stretches.
So how is the 570GT sausage made? The signature feature is undeniably the 7.8-cu-ft rear luggage rack, accessed via a sideways-hinged glass hatch. The frunk ahead of the seats remains, but with the added space, I had no trouble filling the GT with two small suitcases, a medium-sized duffel bag, and a backpack. There’s a simple button to pop the window ajar, but when I reached to swing it open, it was reasonably hot to the touch, which I wouldn’t be thrilled with as an owner. It also feels like there’s a lot of expensive bodywork between your luggage and that opening when it comes time to loading the ol’ girl up. (I did it very slowly and with beads of sweat running down my neck.)
Inside, there’s more than enough real estate for a weekend getaway to the Hamptons, Monaco, or wherever else the lucky few who buy McLarens fancy killing time. The window (framed in carbon fiber for rigidity) spans much of the roof above your head, filling the cabin with light, and making the snug cockpit feel considerably more open. McLaren treats the glass with an 18 percent tint as well as a sound and solar radiation absorption film, but on a hot sunny day I felt myself roasting a bit more than I remember during my drive last summer of the 570S, at least before the A/C had a chance to run for a minute or two. (McLaren added a special Low temperature setting for fast, maximum cooling when you hop in.)
The trappings of luxury are there, as they should be in a car that costs north of $200,000. Luscious hand-stitched Nappa leather lines the interior, lending a more calming and less sporty atmosphere than in the Alcantara-trimmed 570S. Parking sensors are standard, along with an electric-motor-operated steering wheel, heated seats, soft-close doors, and a fantastic eight-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system. It’s not as flashy as a an AMG GT inside, and the center screen is clunkier to manage than the system in say, a Porsche 911, but there’s a clarity and simplicity to the interior that strikes a positive chord.
Compared to the 570S, the GT is a subtly more pampered kick in the ass. The twin-turbocharged 562-hp aluminum V-8 lurks unchanged beneath your Prada bag and carton of Cubans, still mated to the same quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 0-60-mph sprint slows from 3.1 seconds to 3.3, but that’s nothing worth getting upset about. Ninety-five percent of the pit-of-your-stomach lurch remains and while the scrumptious whistle and high-revving shriek of the engine are fully present under hard acceleration, thanks to exhaust adjustments it’s much more civilized when you’re not tempting fate.
McLaren includes the same suspension setup as the 570S, complete with adjustable dampers, but it’s tuned to be 15 percent softer up front and 10 percent softer in the rear. Combined with the bespoke Pirelli tires designed to transmit less road noise, the GT is a quieter and perhaps more polished road-missile than the stiffer S model. I even felt a tad more comfortable over choppy pavement and expansion joints, when I remembered to stop hyperventilating. More noticeable is the two percent slower steering ratio, which allows for more relaxed inputs. The precision is still there when you want to tear up some pavement, but McLaren dialed back the uber-responsiveness during normal driving – a subtle yet most welcome refinement. Wise, too, was the decision to switch to a smoother and more streetable lightweight iron braking system instead of carbon-ceramics.
I gave the 570GT a fond farewell and a well-earned tip of the cap when it was time to hand over the key. It’s still one hell of an exotic sports car that quickens my heart in a way that the Audi R8 doesn’t, and with looks that the by-now unremarkable Porsche 911 Turbo must envy. And while the 570GT in no way diminishes my devotion to the stupendous 570S, a week behind the wheel was a learning experience. When McLaren can make a car that’s every bit as emotional and thrilling, but will make drivers want to spend even more time behind the wheel and on weekend getaways, I can’t chalk that up as anything other than a win.
2017 McLaren 570GT Specifications
|ENGINE||3.8L DOHC 32-valve twin-turbo V-8/562 hp @ 7,500 rpm, 443 lb-ft @ 5,000-6,000 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, RWD coupe|
|EPA MILEAGE||16/23 mpg|
|L x W x H||178.3 x 82.4 x 47.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.3 sec|
|TOP SPEED||204 mph|