by Michael Butler
Anyone who knows anything about cars will tell you that McLaren builds some of the most focused performance cars in the world, and they'd be correct. This British supercar manufacturer has a deep-rooted connection with motorsport, and the cars it produces echo this. So it came as a small surprise then when McLaren launched the all-new GT, the brand's first foray into the Grand Tourer class. You might say that this car looks like any other supercar McLaren builds, but subtle changes transform the GT into a true long-distance champion. The GT is powered by the M840TE 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 and delivers a potent 612 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration is brisk, to say the least, and the GT will still manage a top speed of over 200 mph. The GT goes up against fellow Brits such as the Aston Martin DB11 Coupe, and the Bentley Continental GT.
The newly launched McLaren GT is the British manufacturer's first true venture into the world of GT cruisers, even though it looks and performs very much like a full-blooded supercar. The GT is based on the 720S platform, but an increased body length and the incorporation of a carbon fiber rear deck means you now get more cargo space, perfect for those long-distance journeys. The GT makes use of McLaren's 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 engine, and features interior comforts such as leather seats with power adjustability.
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
What clearly sets the exterior of the GT apart from its more performance-orientated siblings is its flowing lines and overall sleek form. The body has been extended to give it an even more shapely figure, and the overhangs look simply elegant. These overhangs also help the GT to decrease its drag coefficient and increase its interior cargo capacity. Over the rear arches, the GT features functional cooling air intakes for the engine and rear brake assembly. In the front, the GT has LED headlights with discreet McLaren branding. Everything mentioned here is crafted around an ultra-rigid carbon fiber monocoque shell, which is a boon for handling and compliments the overall styling as well. The iconic dihedral doors swing up in dramatic fashion, and the rear is finished off by two exhaust tips emanating from the diffuser. Optional exterior features include a vehicle lift system, soft close doors, and rain-sensing window wipers.
For the purpose of adding more trunk space (a prerequisite in grand tourers), McLaren has lengthened the GT to a total length of 184.4 inches. This makes it over two inches shorter than the Aston Martin DB11, and 6.5 inches shorter than the Bentley Continental GT. With the mirrors included, the GT is 82.5 inches wide, and 129.4 inches wide with the doors open. The GT sits 47.8 inches tall and is 77.8 inches tall when the doors are opened. The GT rolls on a 105.3-inch wheelbase, the front track is 65.8 inches, and the rear track is 65.5 inches. Thanks to the extensive use of carbon fiber, the GT weighs in at only 3,384 pounds with a weight distribution of 42.5/57.5, front to back.
McLaren offers the GT with 30 different paint colors, ranging from reserved to bonkers. Color options are categorized into four classes, namely Standard, Special, Elite, and MSO Defined. The only color in the standard category is Silver. Special colors include Onyx Black, Argon, Quartz, and Storm Grey. The Elite range of colors takes things to the next level with vibrant colors such as Saros, Viridian, and the timeless Pearl White. While more mature colors suit the GT's more laid back personality, the MSO Defined range of colors begs you to go all out with hues such as Lantana Purple, Helios Orange, and the ludicrous Ludus Blue. If we were the ones doing the buying, we'd have one in Saros Grey.
Don't let the title fool you: this grand tourer will still decimate almost every other sports car on the road. It's a blindingly fast car that accelerates like a bat out of hell, and will continue on to a top speed of 204 mph. As with McLaren's other products, the GT is well behaved in normal traffic and can even be described as being docile, but switch into a sportier mode, plant your foot and you're quickly reminded that you're still driving a McLaren supercar. The twin-turbocharged V8 engine produces a healthy 612 hp which is more than anyone will actually ever need. Thanks to slightly smaller turbos than in the 720S, peak outputs are lower but responsiveness and low-rev performance have been improved. This means modulating the throttle in traffic isn't tiring, and the open road is still devoured in devastating fashion. McLaren offers the following stats for all to drool over: zero to sixty in only 3.1 seconds, zero to 124 mph in nine seconds, and the quarter-mile sprint in eleven seconds flat.
McLaren doesn't stray off the beaten path when it comes to its choice of engine for the GT: under the engine cover of this grand tourer lies an M840TE twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine. In the GT, this engine produces 612 hp at a soaring 7,500 rpm and 465 lb-ft of torque. Unlike other turbocharged V8 engines in this class, the 4.0-liter unit on offer here loves to chase the redline and feels lively well past 7,000 rpm. It sounds good too: its stainless steel exhaust system bellows out an exotic combination of turbo whine and V8 bark, and for those who want even more song, McLaren offers an even louder sports exhaust system. Power is fed to the rear via a seven-speed seamless shift transmission and an open differential.
GT or grand touring doesn't have to mean boat-like handling and an ultra cushy ride; in fact, the McLaren GT proves just how well balanced a GT car can be. Thanks to advanced driving modes, the GT is comfortable enough to drive on a daily basis, even on rougher city roads. In its most comfortable setting, it is also an accomplished highway cruiser that soaks up bumps with aplomb. Stiffen things up, and one realizes that this is still a supercar in the truest sense of the word. With a carbon fiber monocoque shell and independent adaptive dampers with Proactive Damping Control, the GT feels notably rigid and reacts to driver inputs with near-instant response. Turning into corners sees imperceptible amounts of body roll, and there is an overabundance of grip available, except when punching the throttle at corner exits. The standard brake system performs well, and McLaren claims a stopping distance of 105 feet from 62 mph and 417 feet from 124 mph.
The ability to go over 200 mph and fuel economy don't go hand in hand: The McLaren GT, as with any other car in its class, is on the thirstier side of things when it comes to gas mileage, but its relatively lightweight and slippery body design helps it along slightly. McLaren claims that its GT will do 15/21/17 mpg city/highway/combined. The admittedly less powerful Aston Martin DB11 makes it look bad with a figure of 18/24/20 mpg. The McLaren GT is fitted with a 19-gallon fuel tank, which should give it a maximum cruising distance of around 323 miles.
The standard McLaren car is usually a rather stripped-down place that puts more emphasis on performance than driver comfort. Slim carbon fiber backed seats, and basic infotainment systems rule this domain, but the GT looks to change that perception with a more refined and classy offering. Step inside the cabin of the GT, and you'll get the same uncluttered space as in, for instance, a 720S, but there are also several notably refined areas that make the GT feel a bit more in line with competitors such as the Continental GT. Visibility is excellent out the front, and the optional tinted glass roof opens up the cabin nicely. The rear carbon fiber hood adds an even greater sense of space, and it's clear from the outset that the GT is able to carry more than its more performance-minded siblings. The combination of carbon fiber and Nappa leather is enticing, to say the least: McLaren has nailed this interior.
The GT is built around a carbon fiber monocoque that creates a snug interior seating situation. The door sills are also wide, so getting in and out of this car can get tricky for taller drivers. Once seated, the GT's seats offer good support but aren't as hardcore as those found in cars such as the 570S. The seats are streamlined in accordance with the exterior styling and are adjustable in ten different ways, and includes lateral control and a memory function. The driver seating position is excellent, and clearly indicates that the driver is still the focal point. Taller occupants will have mild issues getting in and out of the GT, as in any low-slung supercar with winged doors, but once inside, there's enough space for most drivers and passengers.
The interior of the McLaren GT is a sea of black leather and carbon fiber. The Standard interior package covers the cabin in Nappa leather, bespoke stitching patterns, and double piping and intricate perforation. The Standard interior also features a leather steering wheel, leatherette headliner as well as Satin Black interior surrounds and Satin Silver brightwork. The Pioneer interior package features Alcantara and soft grain leather seats with contrasting color accents. This package also adds an Alcantara headliner, soft grain Aniline leather sills, and a SuperFabric or Aniline leather luggage bay floor. A third option, the Luxe package, incorporates soft grain leather headlining and sill finishers in a wide array of solid or combination colors, and finishes things off with machined and knurled aluminum and Piano Gloss Black interior trim.
McLaren cars are notorious for offering little to no trunk space, with cars such as the McLaren Senna only offering a shelf for two helmets to fit inside the cabin. The GT seeks to change this perception by providing an actual usable amount of trunk and overall cargo space. As with most other rear-engined cars, the GT offers users a frunk, or front trunk, which in this case provides a reasonable 5.3 cubic feet of space. That's large enough for a small grocery run. The rear upper structure of the GT is unique to this model: a carbon fiber clamshell design creates more space and now features a rear luggage bay. This setup is good for an impressive 14.8 cubic feet of space. That's large enough to fit a golf bag or two. Small items can be stored in a shallow center console storage tray or glove compartment.
The McLaren GT offers more than just a carbon fiber shell and some flappy paddles on the steering wheel: it's an authentic grand tourer in the sense that it envelops the driver in luxury and comfort, and offers more standard features than you'll find on performance-minded models. Noteworthy exterior features include an optional powered rear tailgate and optional glass roof. The interior is lit up by ambient LED lighting, and you sit down on manually-adjustable leather seats. The steering column is also manually adjustable but the optional premium package adds power adjustment to the seats and steering column for added ease of use. There's also an auto-dimming rearview mirror and dual-zone climate control. The Premium Pack also adds Cabin Air Purification with Pollen Filtration, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, and a luggage bay privacy cover.
According to McLaren, the infotainment system in its new GT was inspired by the world of private jets instead of the automotive world. We can sort of see that, especially in the way the display screen is fitted in portrait. This seven-inch touchscreen display offers crisp images and smooth transitions, but good luck trying to interact with it when driving. Standard infotainment features include satellite navigation, Bluetooth streaming, as well as satellite radio and AM/FM radio. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, unfortunately, do not make the list. The standard sound system consists of four speakers, but a 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins system is also available under the Premium Pack option.
The McLaren GT, along with other McLaren cars such as the Senna and 570GT, have been recalled due to a fuel tank issue. An NVH pad under the tank can collect debris and water, leading to corrosion of the tank. McLaren covers the GT with a three-year basic warranty, a ten-year corrosion warranty, a three-year drivetrain warranty, as well as with a three-year roadside assistance plan.
The all-new GT has not been crash-tested by either the NHTSA or IIHS, so official safety ratings are unavailable at present, and will surely never be revealed as these agencies tend to shy away from testing exotic supercars and low demand cars in general. What we can safely assume is that McLaren has put every bit of effort into making the GT as safe as possible, especially considering their extensive experience in the motorsport industry. With safety systems such as an ultra-stiff, and impact-resistant carbon fiber monocoque, as well as advanced traction and stability control systems, the GT should prove to be as safe as, or even safer than the competition.
Despite asking a small fortune for their new grand tourer, McLaren forgoes advanced driver assistance features such as lane keep assist and rear cross-traffic control; there's not even a blind-spot system in place. It seems that this trend runs through the supercar community. What you get instead is a basic airbag system and contemporary safety features such as LED headlights, hill hold assist, cruise control, and an electronic parking brake. More traditional safety systems include ABS brakes, as well as an advanced sport-tuned electronics stability and traction control system. Personal security is ensured by a keyless entry and lock system, as well as keyless start, and a car alarm system.
The GT signals McLaren's desire to expand its offerings from just building pure performance cars, and with this step in the grand tourer direction, come new challengers who have been around for decades. Going up against the likes of the Bentley Continental GT, one of the best GT cars around, isn't a walk in the park, but the McLaren GT has a trick up its sleeve: instead of going all out as a grand tourer, it combines elements from both the GT realm, as well as the traditional McLaren DNA. The end result is an amalgamation that does both pretty well. Based on the 720S, and built around a carbon fiber monocel, the GT still retains the rigidity and handling prowess of its performance-orientated siblings, and its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 provides enough performance to best its competitors; it feels like a proper supercar. On the other hand, the GT, with its extended body and carbon fiber "hood" in the rear now, offers some actual trunk space, and the interior is a more plush space too, which means you can actually drive the GT over long distances without tiring. We like this new direction McLaren is taking.
McLaren's new grand tourer is competitively priced against its rivals. With an asking price of $210,000, it's no sales lot bargain, but after all, you're buying a McLaren. The Aston Martin DB11 Coupe, for instance, goes for a hair under $200k at $198,995, and the Bentley Continental GT will set you back $202,500. Fully-kitted, the McLaren GT should see its price rise by a significant margin.
The McLaren GT is a standalone model and is only available in a single trim. Unlike its more performance-orientated siblings such as the Senna, the GT concentrates on creating a more relaxed driving experience that lives up to its grand tourer name. The exterior of the GT features dihedral doors with soft close function, heated door mirrors with dipping reverse functionality, as well as rain-sensing window wipers, LED headlights with auto-leveling, and a glazed rear tailgate with soft-close functionality. The interior of the GT gets manually-adjustable leather sport seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, as well as a seven-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth streaming, AM/FM radio, USB and Aux connectivity, as well as navigation, and a four-speaker sound system. You also get keyless entry and start, as well as an alarm system. Safety systems include cruise control, a reverse camera, and advanced traction and stability control.
McLaren gives new owners three options when it comes to interior specifications. The Standard Package includes manually adjustable comfort seats and steering column, a leather steering wheel, and leatherette headlining. The Pioneer package includes power-adjustable seats and a power-adjustable steering column, ambient interior lighting, as well as an Alcantara headliner and soft grain leather sill finishing. You also get SuperFabric soft grain Aniline leather on the luggage bay floor, and machined and knurled aluminum and Piano Gloss Black interior surrounds. The Luxe package includes a soft grain Aniline leather headlining.
Additionally, you can option on the Premium Pack, which adds a Bowers & Wilkins 12-Speaker sound system, a power tailgate with soft close function, LED headlights with static adaptive functionality, and Chrome-tipped headlight bezels, as well as vehicle lift, HomeLink, electronically folding side mirrors, and a luggage bay cover.
With only one model on offer, prospective buyers can turn to the options list to make their GT a truly unique creation. If we were the ones doing the buying, we would start off with a Saros Grey car rolling on seven-spoke alloy wheels. We would also get the MSO Gloss carbon fiber pack and the sports exhaust system. The interior would be kept black, and we would also get leather sill finishings. The Premium Package, which includes a 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system as well as a power tailgate, will surely feature in our build. In short, we would make it as comfortable as possible for long-distance trips.
Aston Martin builds gorgeous cars, and the DB11 Coupe has to be one of their most beautiful creations to date. It might not be the fastest or well-built when compared to the rest of the class, but it makes up for it with sheer beauty. Under the hood of the Aston Martin DB11 Coupe lies a Mercedes-AMG sourced 503 hp twin-turbo V8 or a 630 hp twin-turbo V12 with. Both engines offer more than enough pluck for a GT car. We love the attractive interior, which is plusher than the McLaren GT, and the fact that it is highly customizable from the factory. It's also the more comfortable car to drive over long trips: exactly what a GT car should offer. Visibility isn't as good as in the McLaren, and the rear seats are cramped. Its trunk is also smaller than the McLaren GT. If it's a true GT car you're after, the Aston will be your best bet.
Bentley is known for building some of the best grand tourers in the business, which means stiff competition for Mclaren's GT. The Continental GT is one of the best in its class, and with good reason: it offers awesome power, a relaxed driving experience, and a beautifully crafted interior.
The Continental GT is offered with two engines: a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 542 hp, and a 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 with 626 hp. In both cases, there is more than enough power for sporty driving, as well as highway cruising. The Bentley Continental GT is also highly customizable, with a seemingly endless amount of paint and interior options on offer. It should be mentioned that this Bentley is a heavy drinker, and things get cramped in the rear. At the end of the day, the Bentley is a more accomplished GT car, but not as fun to drive.
Check out some informative McLaren GT video reviews below.