When the McLaren MP4-12C came along in 2011 boasting Ferrari-baiting power, sweet looks and a weirdly comfortable ride, we knew that it was a base to build upon, and a pretty great one at that. Fast-forward a few years and while the MP4-12C is no more, a discerning customer has choices -- a 650S with or without a roof, or the 570S "entry level" supercar. Each is monstrously fast and fabulously good looking, but there was something missing from the lineup: a car that focuses on comfort. That's where the new 570GT comes in.
It's powered by the same 3.8-liter twin turbo V-8 as the 570S, which means it's got 562 brake horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Its front end is the same, but the rear is where things begin to change. There are no flying buttresses here, but rather a sloping roofline with a glass hatch and 220 liters of extra trunk space. McLaren says that the extra junk in its trunk -- and frunk -- give the 570GT more luggage room than a Ford Focus hatch.
That may be true, but it's not quite as usable. The rear load bay offers a lump of space, sloping down in to the cabin. It's not the most commodious of spaces, but you can fit odds and ends in there if you need to. The frunk is more sensible, giving you a 130-liter box to store everything else.
The glass hatch is pretty cool, too. Park the 570GT up and it opens for curbside access. (Left-hand drive cars hinge on the left, RHD on the right. It's not a one-side-suits-all affair.) That's handy if you keep your car on the street regularly, less so if you travel from the UK to the continent. That's what the frunk's for, I suppose. It does, however, look enormously cool.
The cabin isn't the biggest in the world, but two people won't end up with their elbows in one another's ears. There are enough cubby holes for daily guff like phones, wallets and the like, and thanks to a new panoramic roof, it doesn't feel like you're driving a cave. McLaren wanted to make the GT a more liveable car for daily use, so there are swathes of leather to make your environment as comfortable as possible. The seats in our test car, a lovely shade of Lady Whiplash red, proved supportive and kept the dreaded "numb bum" at bay during a full day's driving.
That said, the seat back occasionally felt lumpy, thanks to the car's indecipherable lumbar-support and positioning controls. They may be all electric, but the button placement sure takes some getting used to. The pedal box is a touch cramped as well. Your left foot sits on a handy rest, but it isn't the biggest space, so big shoes are to be avoided.
While the interior is very plush, the instrument binnacle does look a bit strange. You're given all your information via screens. So far, so futuristic, right? The screens change depending on which driving mode you're in, and that's pretty cool, but those screens are very obviously in a plastic surround, and in certain lights, it doesn't look that great at all.
The 570GT is supposed to be the comfortable supercar. To that end, the spring rates have been softened by 15 percent up front and 10 percent in the back. The steering has been made 2 percent softer to make the car easier to drive fast, as well.
Now, McLaren's cars have never been uncomfortable -- if anything, they're the most easy-riding supercars you can buy. The 570S can be a little hard, however, and there are some people out there who want to daily their exotic and need something a touch softer. Thankfully, the 570GT is, on Spanish roads at least, as smooth as you like. When the tarmac gets rough, you'll know about it, but not as much as you would in a 570S.
Steering is smooth, wonderfully weighted and offers great feedback. Twin that with epic levels of grip and you get the impression that daily-driving this would be a delight, albeit a delight with the potential for a million speeding tickets before 8:30 a.m.
Press the Active button and the car jumps from its default mode and lets you choose how you want your power and handling. Normal, Sport and Track are your choices, each one turning up the car's angry level until you find the setting you're after. Personally, I found keeping everything in Sport did the trick. While the car is softer than its stablemate, McLaren claims you can still have fun on a circuit in it. It won't be as stiff as the S, but most buyers probably won't mind. After all, they chose the comfy one for a reason.
Normal road brakes are standard on the GT, largely because they're easier to use in traffic. You can spec carbon discs, and that's what sat on our test car. The uprated stoppers are devastatingly effective. You have to work them quite hard to start, but once you've learned how to modulate them, they become a dream to work with.
The car's performance is stellar. 0-62 mph happens in 3.4 seconds and top speed is north of 200 mph. Despite having the same engine as the 570S, the GT's extra roof adds 37 kg (82 pounds), which does add an extra couple of tenths to the 0-62 dash. Only racing drivers and school children will honestly care about the difference, so don't sweat it too much. Acceleration is hard and linear with little hint of turbo lag. You'll be pushed back in your seat with the speedo displaying silly numbers before you know it, and that's before you start pressing Sport buttons and the like.
Fans of being quiet will like two things more than most. The standard exhaust is a few decibels quieter than the one you get on the S (the optional sports exhaust is just as loud as the S, though). Also, the tires it's been fitted with come with noise suppression technology in a bid to keep road noise out of the cabin. It works rather well, though no car will be 100 percent silent this side of a Rolls-Royce.
The 570GT is a great alternative to the noisier, slightly more raucous 570S. Buyers who want something a touch more refined will be pleased to see one on their drive. It's fast, it's fun, it's pretty and it won't do your ears, back, butt or neck in on a long drive. Simply put, McLaren's made another great car.