Here's Why The McLaren GT Is A True Grand Touring Car

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Even though it doesn't fit the traditional definition.

The concept of a grand touring car evolved in Europe in the middle of the 20th century, as a luxurious, but also sporty vehicle that can go long distances at high speeds. They were mostly front-engine, two-door, 2+2 coupes. But like everything else, the term grand touring (like the term coupe) has evolved to encompass many things, including this McLaren GT.

Though the Europeans created and possibly perfected the Grand Tourer, it was Americans that bought them. Sports stars and Hollywood movie stars drove Jaguar XKs and Mercedes SLs, and occasionally a Rolls-Royce. McLaren wasn't around for that, but it's biggest market now is here in North America, which is why bringing the GT to us makes sense. The problem is that the rest of the McLarens are also good at high-speed, long-distance cruising. They're also a little wilder.

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Luxury For The Eyes

We're not saying the McLaren GT won't catch everyone's attention on the road. It definitely will, but the company does offer it in more muted colors than the oranges, purples and blues of the Sports, Super and Ultimate Series cars (nevermind that this one is teal). This GT sits outside those series, though it's spec sheet reads like a 600LT. It still has the butterfly doors, but they're much more slabby than the 720S versions, which look like a scythe went through and took out the insides. The style does stop debris from getting caught in there, which happens in the 720S.

The front end of the GT could only be called restrained when compared to its brethren. The 600LT has a smiley two-tone scheme and the 720S is all scoops and headlights. The GT has intakes, but they're darkened and hidden, and more horizontal looking than the numbered cars. At the back, the GT gets more standard-looking low exhaust outlets. The 720S's pipes are midway up and on the 600LT they come out of the top of the rear deck. Grand touring cars are meant to convey simple, unbusy styling, and this McLaren does that.

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High Speeds

Housing a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, the McLaren GT delivers 612 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. It boogies to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds and up to 124 mph is nine seconds flat. The GT tops out at 203 mph, which takes care of the high-speed requirement for a grand touring vehicle. But that high speed needs to be delivered properly. Cresting triple digits should feel like a walk in the park, and that's what it does here. A quick kickdown of the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission will have you well above legal speeds without even noticing.

The paddle shifters are large so no matter how crossed up the steering wheel is, they can still be grabbed. We've said this before but if you can avoid shifting when the wheel's wrapped up, do that, but if you can't, you'll be able to shift. These high-speed, long-distance cruises don't have to be on long straight roads.

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Long Distances

Speaking of long distances, a GT needs to be able to carry its passengers across time zones in comfort, and though the McLaren GT is harsher than your average Bentley Continental GT, it's still one of the most comfortable supercars on the road. We can thank McLaren engineers for that, who went with an aluminum double-wishbone setup at all four corners, hydraulic adjustable dampers and an array of sensors. It reads the road ahead, making adjustments in milliseconds.

And if you're traveling over the road, you'll need a little extra storage space for luggage, not just a helmet and gloves. The front trunk of the GT provides 5.3 cubic feet of storage. That combined with the 14.8 cubes in the rear, makes for more than 20 cubic feet. That's enough for a couple of overnight bags, or a few sets of skis or a set of golf clubs. They do fit, we tried, but if you're on a golf trip, you'll still need to bring friends with SUVs.

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Drawbacks

Like all McLarens, the pedalbox is small. Mix with that no clutch to push on and no dead pedal, and there's not much for your left foot to do besides cramp up and reposition. The seats are comfortable, though, and provide a good driving position and good visibility. If we were making wishes, maybe we'd add a bit more cushioning in the bottoms.

The infotainment isn't great either. The screen feels small, comparatively, and it has a steep learning curve. It has some redundant mode buttons, and a volume knob, but the interface is still a little confusing, and the portrait setup doesn't do it any favors either. The Bowers & Wilkins audio system sounds great, so once you get your phone connected and working, everything gets a lot easier.

The McLaren GT comes in at $203K, which makes it a little cheaper than the 600-level cars and way less expensive than the 700s. This example came with an as-tested price of $217,000, including options like the electrochromic roof that darkens with a button, the Serpentine paint, polished and painted calipers and gloss black wheels. There are easier ways to tour the highways and byways, and less expensive ways, but there aren't many better ways than the cheapest McLaren.

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