The McLaren GT Is The Composed Grand Touring Supercar
The middle child of McLaren's lineup is the one you should give more attention.
Get lost in the flurry of McLaren's hypercar offerings, and you may forget that it produces some good supercars that still provide exceptional performance without requiring a massive balance in your offshore bank account. Sure the Sabre, Senna, and Elva are cool, with astronomical performance stats and wildly shaped exteriors, but they're in a tax bracket far above mere mortals like me. What about the supercar driver who wants to spend $200,000 to rip canyons on the weekend, take long driving holidays with their significant other, and still look like a baller when they pull up to the valet line?
Enter the McLaren GT. Meant to be the proper grand tourer in a supercar-heavy lineup, McLaren positions the GT as the more comfortable British performance car that goes head-to-head with the Bentley Continental GT, Aston Martin DB11, and Ferrari Roma. In doing this, McLaren offers a GT that's intended to be lighter, faster, and more engaging than its rivals. Where the McLaren GT's competition comes in the form of 2+2 coupes with engines ahead of the cabin, this mid-engined machine creatively employs storage features to tote loads of luggage for two inside a space age cabin while still boasting blistering performance in the twisty stuff.
Last year I gave the McLaren 720S Spider a thorough review, and thought it was the best all-around supercar currently on sale. At an as-tested price of $379,000, it is a bit out of reach for many fast drivers. The McLaren GT hits a sweet spot between the more potent 720S and the more attainable 570S, with regard to price and power output, but its focus on being a more functional grand tourer is what matters. Over a slightly shorter test, with a focus on evaluating it both as a supercar and GT, I had to answer this question: Does this grand touring McLaren hit the mark?
The Important Figures
Hidden beneath a massive power-raising glass storage hatch and lowered engine bay is McLaren's M840TE 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 which produces a generous 612 horsepower at 7,500 RPM, 465 lb-ft of torque at 5,500 - 6,500 RPM, and 95% of peak torque available from 3,000 to 7,250 RPM. Through a 7-speed SSG, a trick open-center differential, and rear-wheel-drive the McLaren GT can engage its launch control to sprint from 0-60 MPH in 3.1 seconds, 0-124 in 9.0, and hit a top speed of 203 MPH. With massive carbon ceramic brakes, the GT can scrub off 60-0 in just 100 feet, while knocking off 124-0 in as little as 417 feet.
Built upon McLaren's Monocell II-T carbon fiber monocoque, the GT is light yet strong, and helps the British marque offset production costs while shedding weight, sporting a curb weight of just 3,384 pounds with the fuel tank topped off. That's over 200 pounds lighter than the GT's nearest competitor. With aluminum crash structures front and rear, the rear upper assembly is constructed from carbon fiber, and McLaren crafted a shallower engine support and revised exhaust system to not only lower the GT's center of gravity but also allow for a significantly larger rear cargo area.
Overall proportions for the McLaren GT are larger than any other Sports or Super Series McLaren offering, measuring 184 inches in overall length, 48 inches tall, 82 inches wide, with 65-inch track front and rear, and a 105-inch wheelbase. The GT also has slightly longer overhangs front and rear, with the front offering a 10º approach angle in standard form, with up to 13º if you opt for the front axle lift. The GT also sports a 4.3-inch ground clearance, which is slightly up versus the other McLaren offerings, allowing for a bit more suspension travel and comfort.
Pricing for the McLaren GT starts at $200,000, and after adding the electrochromic roof, polished brake calipers, gloss black wheels, and an obscenely cool shade of Serpentine paint, this tester hit an MSRP of $217,155 after destination. That figure is $100,000 less than a McLaren 720S coupe, and about $10,000 more than McLaren's entry-level 570S.
A Practical Daily Grand Tourer
Bucking supercar criticisms, the McLaren GT copes with your daily commute like a champ. Appearing to be a typical supercar, once you slide into its seats, you immediately recognize a cabin that's spacious, sultry, and supremely stylish. A driver-centric cockpit positions every control nicely within reach, while retaining a tidy layout within a huge glass greenhouse. The McLaren GT's cabin can appear basic at first glance, but its unconventional design is remarkably functional once you make a few adjustments.
There's no mistaking this more composed McLaren for a timid cruiser when you apply the throttle, but the GT's engine mapping is more focused on refined delivery of its power, rather than supplying screaming fast response like you experience in the 720S. A flatter torque curve ensures smooth acceleration from any RPM, met with seamless gear changes. Continuing the more composed theme, the McLaren GT's exhaust is more subtle than I prefer, but it will remind you that there's a boosted V8 behind you if you apply the accelerator. Steering feel is on the light side in the city, but still precise when you're maneuvering at low speeds, and McLaren accomplishes this without feeling disconnected.
McLaren gives the GT a bespoke suspension setup, aiming to provide a grand touring driving experience that still offers the sort of performance you expect from the Woking outfit. Equipped with McLaren's Proactive Damping Control (PDC) system, the GT deploys numerous sensors working in harmony with rapid computational power to can scan the road ahead and make adjustments in as little as two milliseconds. Stick to the comfort dynamic setting in town, even though the McLaren GT's adaptive suspension is remarkably comfortable in its sport mode. Over bumpy downtown Austin pavement, the McLaren GT offered ride quality that was compliant and inching toward what I'd expect from a German flagship sedan. The GT is easily as comfortable on the road as the Ferrari Roma I drove not long ago, is just less composed than the Bentley Continental GT (as you'd expect), but was more refined than the Aston Martin.
Typical grand tourers offer good space and comfort for the driver and front passenger, but the back "seats" are little more than a place to throw smaller bags. As I experienced in the Bentley Continental GT (I reviewed elsewhere), the boot space was massive, and the back seats were somewhat usable by adults. The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera I reviewed had a comically small back seat that barely held my backpack, with boot space that barely held two roller bags, and the same went for the Ferrari Roma I tested privately. McLaren provides good cargo volume in the GT's front storage area, stashing away about as much as the Ferrari and Aston, with just a bit less cargo volume than the Bentley, but it also has a massive storage area above the engine that extends from the back of the seats all the way to the tail end.
In total, the GT has over 20 cubic feet of cargo volume, with 15 of those under the optional power operating rear tailgate. Up front, two carry-on roller bags and a backpack will drop in with ease, but out back there's a ton of space to gobble up your gear. McLaren says you can store a full-size golf bag in this new hatch, but since I don't play golf I stuffed the Pelican case I use for my camera gear, a carry-on size roller bag, and a big backpack in there, and still had plenty of space left. I love how much the McLaren GT stores without having to drop the kids' college fund on fitted luggage.
Contrary to typical assumptions about exotic cars, the McLaren GT can cover long cruises with EPA estimated 15/22/18 MPGs, a 19-gallon tank, and a fuel range of 418 miles. I experienced 16 MPGs during my test, which is great considering I put much of my mileage on the GT during spirited driving along some Texas Hill Country roads, and the ambient air temp was far too hot for the start/stop mode to kick on to save fuel.
Form And Function, Finely Executed
McLaren designed the GT to be more elegant and and sleek than its siblings, while still carrying out a strikingly muscular appearance. The GT's overall packaging is exceptional, and in this lovely shade of Serpentine paint, it's ultra cool. I also like the McLaren logo shape of the LED daytime running light strip in the headlight housing. Dihedral doors are still part of the McLaren package, and while they do flex some supercar looks, they allow for easier entry and exit of the McLaren GT.
To carry out the more composed appearance, the McLaren GT is devoid of unsightly wings, spoilers, flaps, and dive planes. Vents along the front, sides, and rear are more subtle, but don't compromise cooling performance. Underneath the GT still has a big splitter up front, with a significant diffuser under the tail end, so it still has plenty of downforce that you'd expect from a McLaren. The tiny LED taillight strip is cool, subtly placed inside a stylish honeycomb heat extraction grille.
Supercar Performance At Your Disposal
Upholding McLaren's performance car lineage, the GT doesn't disappoint once you escape the bustling city for more appropriately hilly and twisty surroundings. Inside the high sills of a deep carbon monocoque, there's no mistaking the McLaren GT for simply fast coupe. Tap the "Active" button on the center console to enable comfort, sport, and track drive mode selections. I like that McLaren utilizes two simple knobs for separate powertrain and handling configurations, with the trio of drive modes for each core setting. A more conventional digital display switches to a readout that mimics what Lando Norris sees in his McLaren F1 car when track mode is selected.
For best enjoyment of the McLaren GT, that requires a hint of skill, I engaged the track powertrain and sport handling setup, with the ESC button pressed to enable the dynamic setting. With this configuration, the McLaren GT released the 4.0-liter turbocharged V8's fury, allowed the traction the slightest bit of slip angle in the corners, and kept the suspension's composure intact over imperfect back roads. During an adventure along some of my favorite Texas Hill Country roads, I gave the McLaren a comprehensive exercise, and was constantly stunned with how it performed.
Providing more reasonable delivery of its performance than the McLaren 720S I tested last year, the GT still effortlessly rips up a canyon road. Don't scoff at its 612 horsepower figure, as the McLaren GT deploys an unbridled surge of turbocharged power that can expose any amateur skills you possess more easily than Nikita Mazepin spins on the opening lap of a grand prix. Accepting that the McLaren GT is designed to be more composed than its Super and Ultimate Series siblings, I'll cut it some slack for having a tame exhaust note when giving it the beans. Shifts from the 7-speed are ridiculously fast in any mode, and aren't harsh at all in track mode either. I liked taking control of the shifts myself, using the metal blade-shaped paddles, and felt the gear spacing was nice when I was giving the GT a proper rip along an empty country road.
Double wishbones all around keep the contact patch planted, and McLaren's Proactive Damping Control suspension does a wonderful job of sticking the big grand tourer to the pavement without any disruption over mid-corner bumps. The handling characteristics of the McLaren GT are similar to what you get in the 720S, and the average driver will have a tough time noticing a true difference the 720S can offer. There's no way you'd have as much fun in the Bentley Continental as in this McLaren, and while I think the Ferrari Roma is just as enjoyable as the McLaren GT on a twisty farm-to-market road, to get this level of performance in an Aston Martin, you'll have to spend far more to bump up to the DBS.
Whether you spot a local law enforcement officer or you're simply approaching a tighter bend, massive 367mm front and 354mm rear--no cost option--carbon ceramic rotors are clamped by 4-piston calipers at all four corners. McLaren brake pedals require a bit more input before providing the feedback I prefer from a performance car, but once I adjusted to this behavior, I was stunned how effortlessly the GT reduced speed.
Steering is exceptional in the McLaren GT, with a perfect amount of power assist to make fast inputs smooth, but without an artificial sensation. The limiting factor in the GT's performace is the rubber equipped. Pirelli P Zero tires are a great set for most performance cars, but even the specially-developed rubber on the GT can't cope with the McLaren's handling potential. On a demanding back road, they got greasy quickly, and at just 225/35/20 up front, there isn't as much contact patch a car of this caliber deserves. I also want a bit more meat to provide greater steering weight and confidence when I'm absolutely thrashing. Thankfully there are 295/30/R21 tires out back to keep the tail in check.
After a hundred fun miles of ripping up some twisty roads, a good friend and I pulled into the small town Spicewood, Texas. It's an easy town to blow through if you're on your way to the lake house, but make the stop if you're looking for some epic Texas BBQ. Without as much media coverage as other names in the meat smoking business, Opie's is one of my favorite BBQ spots in the world, and happens to be close to a fun driving route I like using for performance cars. At the end of a technical drive in the McLaren GT, a ton of meat and sides hit the spot before making a highway trek back to Austin.
The Smart Details Inside
The dash, door panels, and roof are all lined with Nappa leather, to give the cabin a refined look that also reduces noise. McLaren offers Alcantara interior trim too, but in the GT, I'd stick with the finer materials, and tick the no-cost Luxe package option. I love the leather-trimmed steering wheel and its metal spokes, devoid of any buttons or switches, with finely-countered shift paddles that resemble katanas, giving the McLaren this perfect balance of refinement and style.
At $6,000 the electrochromic roof option is a must-have. Different from the McLaren 720S Spider I drove, the GT's setup allows for multiple modes of opacity, giving you as little or as much light as you prefer inside the cabin, rather than just two light or dark settings. I also appreciate that the electrochromic roof defaults to its darkest setting once you turn off this McLaren grand tourer.
The Bowers & Wilkins audio system thumps the McLaren GT's cockpit, with dash speaker grilles flexing stylish contours and the door speakers shapes resembling the McLaren logo. The few knobs you'll spot inside the McLaren GT are machined from metal and given a cool swirling engraving, with a positive feeling against your fingers. Offering additional practicality, McLaren installs three real cupholders in the GT, with a big enough storage bin under the center armrest.
A Couple Little Gripes
As you expect from a supercar, the front end is quite low, making the lip susceptible to scraping on any driveway or incline. McLaren was wise to equip the GT with a powered front axle lift, but it's super slow to engage, so you have to come to a dead stop--possibly holding up traffic--when you have to make a climb. It's also slow to lower, and requires the front wheels to be pointed straight, so that's a bit inconvenient.
Because of its massive greenhouse that's generated due to large glass pieces, the GT's cockpit roasts in the direct sun. I got to experience this first-hand, during my test in the middle of a Texas summer, and wish McLaren incorporated infrared elements into the remaining glass panels to reduce sound and heat within the cabin like many other high-end manufacturers do. Fortunately the "quick cool" climate control feature is programmed to force hot air out by blasting from the floor and then upward to evacuate less pleasant cabin air.
Neatly concealing many controls into one central portrait-orientated screen, the McLaren infotainment system minimizes clutter, but making quick changes to your music or climate control means taking your eyes off the road to touch a screen rather than clicking a button or turning a knob. This display is also nearly impossible to see in the sunshine if you happen to wear polarized sunglass, and due to the layout, it isn't compatible with Apple CarPlay. While rocket ship styling is cool through the center console, the gear and drive selection controls aren't intuitive at all, and take some time to use effectively.
The shape of the McLaren GT's seats is wonderfully supportive, whether you're ripping up your favorite winding road or covering hundreds of miles per day on a road trip, but McLaren may have overlooked offering a couple features conventional grand tourers have. The GT's seats have heating functionality, but lack ventilation or massage features. I get that McLaren is trying to keep the curb weight down, but this sort of buyer expects these.
The Perfect Balance Of Supercar And Grand Tourer
I love the 720S Spider, think it's the best all-around supercar on the market, and while it boasts a load more power on paper, it's over $100,000 more expensive than the McLaren GT. If you still want the exceptional performance and appearance of a supercar while getting to stuff any travel gear inside, the McLaren GT is a fantastic solution without making significant compromises.
McLaren might be producing more new models than most of us can keep up with, but the GT hits the sweet spot in the lineup. It offers exceptional performance, looks stunning, gets all the cool points you want from a supercar, and does so with a level of practicality no other manufacturer supplies in this grand touring class. If you're looking at a Bentley Continental GT, Aston Martin DB11, or Ferrari Roma, you'd be smart to check out the McLaren GT before putting down a deposit.