By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – When you’re offered seat time in a McLaren GT, take it. The 612 horsepower Supercar was very livable because of its translucent roof. It was very open and very fast — 0 to 60 mph— in 3.1 seconds. And comparably affordable, $217,155.
The GT was low and it was a long – 15 feet. It was all about speed. It had a carbon fiber structure and aluminum body panels underpinned its segment-leading light weight and outstanding dynamic agility.
There was a proactive damping system that delivered a surprising comfortable ride; almost like a midsize sedan. A hydraulic steering system made for great handling.
This car did not drive anything like it looked. It was quiet, rode smooth, it comfortable, even though it was a two-seater and there was plenty of room inside all round.
Nappa leather trim features as standard but this can be upgraded to soft grain luxury leather or Alcantara®, depending on vehicle specification and customer preference. SuperFabric® trim for the rear luggage bay is another option, the innovative woven fabric infused with a layer of tiny, armored guard plates providing increased resistance to stains, cuts, nicks, and abrasions, as well as being breathable, easy to clean and quick to dry.
Like all McLarens, the new GT had a carbon fiber structure that possessed exceptional strength and rigidity while enabling unparalleled driving dynamics and lightest-in-class curb weight. At 3,373lbs., the McLaren GT is more than 286 lbs. lighter than its closest core competitor and quite literally hundreds of pounds less than some other cars in the segment. And with 612 hp from its 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged McLaren V8 engine, the superlight new GT possessed a remarkable power-to-weight ratio of 399 hp-per-ton.
A bespoke MonoCell II-T monocoque body structure – the T denoting ‘Touring’ – incorporates a carbon fiber rear upper structure that added minimal weight but allowed the creation of a 14.8 cubic feet luggage area below the front-hinged, full-length glazed tailgate. The tailgate had a soft-close function as standard and can be optioned as electrically powered as part of the Premium Pack.
The low height of the engine and positioning of the exhaust system has allowed the volume, shape, and usability of the luggage bay to be optimized. A golf bag or two pairs of 185 cm skis and boots as well as luggage can be carried with ease. Since we had neither, we took their word for it.
A further 5.3 cubic feet of storage at the front means the new McLaren GT can accommodate a total of 20.1 cubic feet.
The interior was a cosseting space designed for longer journeys, but with all the essentials for focused, high-performance driving; the seating position, location of controls and forward visibility were as important here as they are in any McLaren.
Technology and modern craftsmanship share equal prominence, with the finest high-quality materials complemented by features such as the most sophisticated McLaren infotainment system to date and hidden-until-lit ambient lighting. In the vernacular, it was thumping.
Braking and steering at lower speeds were great. The carbon fiber brakes brought the GT to halt quickly. But we found that we had to keep pressure on the brake pedal, or the car would, well, move.
McLaren said the GT could be used every day. We would not but find it had to argue with that statement. However, make that on dry pavement.
Although we were awfully low to the ground, we never scrapped the nose of this car. We never had to raid the nose hydraulicly, it was very drivable. That is what impressed us the most about the McLaren GT.