Test drive: Introducing the new McLaren GT
James Nicholls shares why the new McLaren GT is unlike any other McLaren on the market.
According to the manufacturer, the new McLaren GT reimagines the spirit of traditional Grand Touring motoring, by offering more space, comfort and utility. I have not had the opportunity to drive it as yet, but I am sure that it will be a fantastic motor car – fast, engaging, fun and technologically on the cutting edge. But, is it what I would expect from a real Grand Tourer? Well, probably not. When I think of a GT, I think a 1960s Aston Martin DB5, or in modern parlance a Bentley Continental, yet undeniably there is something special about the new McLaren, even at AU$399,995 plus on-road costs.
Sharing the DNA of the McLaren Speedtail, the GT has a very appealing lightweight body, and certainly makes a big nod to luxury with its use of high-quality materials. This is no stripped-out speed machine but a car that should be a pleasure to drive on longer journeys for its pilot. It has streamlined, electrically adjusted and heated seats, and a very sophisticated new infotainment system.
The interior is a cosseting space, and a first for McLaren, the new GT also features storage space in both the front and rear of the vehicle, with the ability to easily house a golf bag (I am not sure why car manufacturers think we all play golf, but they must have done some market research) or two pairs of 185-centimetre skis and boots (now that’s more like it), as well as luggage and a further 150 litres of storage at the front – enabling the new McLaren GT to accommodate a total of 570 litres.
There is special ambient lighting, and the option of an electrochromic glazed panel in lieu of the standard carbon-fibre-composite gloss-black roof, darkening or lightening at the touch of a button. Machined and knurled aluminium switches and controls – including the steering-wheel-mounted gearshift paddles – contrast with gloss black surrounds for the infotainment screen, window switches, gear-selection console and air vent housings. A 12-speaker, Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system featuring carbon fibre sub-bass woofers and Kevlar mid-range drive units is also available.
But of course, the main thing is this GT, whether it is what I would define as a GT or not, is a McLaren. And that means abundant performance. The McLaren GT features a 620PS 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 mated to a seven-speed SSG transmission that delivers linear and relentless acceleration. The performance statistics speak for themselves: 0-100km/h (0-62mph) in 3.2 seconds, while 0-200km/h (0-124mph) is dispatched in only 9.0 seconds. One of the most defining elements of the new McLaren GT – and arguably what will cement its position as a new segment leader – is its dynamic prowess. The suspension, steering and brakes are all bespoke to the car and are optimised to provide an outstanding long-haul drive experience with inherent balance, responsiveness and precision, and with ride comfort setting new standards for the marque.
The arrival of the McLaren GT also coincides with the recent launch of McLaren’s first bespoke luggage collection, designed exclusively for the McLaren GT by McLaren Special Operations. The McLaren GT Luggage Set has, I am told, been developed to conform to the brand’s highest’s standards of engineering, quality and exclusivity, and consists of four pieces: the garment case, the weekend bag, the cabin bag and of course, even though I personally would have no use for it, the full-size golf bag.