Zooming into, and in, the McLaren 570GT

Gone touring

The setting is perfect – driving up a volcano in a national park on Tenerife en route to Teide Observatory, the world’s largest solar observatory, situated 2,400m above sea level. The national park is the most visited natural wonder of Spain and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and as I climb Mount Teide in a McLaren 570GT, I’m suddenly among the clouds, surrounded by white, yellow, orange, red and violet wildflowers growing on the slopes.

The 570GT is arguably the least serious car in the Sports Series, against its siblings, the 570S and 540C. While not a fundamentally different car, the 570GT has been significantly re-engineered.

Says Mike Flewitt, McLaren’s CEO: “We wanted to make a car that was still a driver’s car, yet change the emphasis slightly, so for once we wanted to say it isn’t about pure driving dynamics. The 570GT will be slower around the track than a coupe, but like the Jaguar XJ-S from the 1970s, it will be the car to drive from London to Monaco. It’ll be comfortable, fun and fast – the perfect way to travel.”

Although it has the same carbon fibre chassis/aluminium body panel construction as the 570S, the rear three-quarter area has been completely redone, with the flying buttresses replaced by a fastback-style roofline that incorporates a side-opening hatch on the rear windscreen. This provides access to a 220-litre storage space (the so-called Touring Deck), in addition to the space under the bonnet for more luggage room. The roofline is elevated and elongated for more headroom in the 570GT.

Its running gear has also been fine-tuned for comfortable long-haul driving, especially over poor surfaces, with noise-reducing Pirelli P Zero tyres and a quieter exhaust system.

With the 570GT, McLaren is clearly saying it’s not the destination or the moment so much as the journey that counts. Meant for everyday use and long-distance trips, the hard sports seats and stripped-out interiors have been replaced by leather-upholstered interiors as standard – Harissa Red in the case of my test car. The 570GT I drove also came with a 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system.

On the outside, it cuts a decidedly understated profile, especially against the extrovert 570S, with the 570GT receiving body-coloured door inserts (black on the 570S), a design feature unique to the model. But despite it not being as hardcore as the 570S, or any of McLaren’s other models for that matter, buyers can opt to fit their 570GT with carbon-ceramic brakes if they want to use their cars on the racetrack as well.

Further underlining that fact is how the 570GT is powered by an identical twin turbo-charged 3.8-litre V8 engine as used in the 570S that generates 562bhp. This allows it to accelerate from zero to 100km/ hr in 3.4 seconds, which is just 0.2 seconds slower than the 570S, and it can reach a top speed of 328km/hr.

The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is extremely responsive, but I didn’t even feel the need to drive in manual mode – in fact I even forgot that it was in automatic, so concentrated was I on the extremely engaging driving experience along the winding mountainous test route.

The 570GT and 570S are up against stiff competition in the form of the Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo. And even though all Sports Series cars are sold out this year, they will never be as ubiquitous as their rivals, though this is not something that bothers Flewitt. He says, “We haven’t set very high sales goals – we’re not looking to sell anything like the (Porsche 911) Turbo S.

“We always want our brand to be exclusive. We want it to be special, to be a McLaren and if that means we have to charge a little bit more, that’s okay because if people think it’s special to have it, then maybe they’ll pay a little bit more.”

That confidence is certainly something that is reflected in the 570GT, and because of that, it’s easy to forget McLaren is a young brand, though Flewitt says it’s something that plays in its favour. “We didn’t register in people’s minds until five years ago, and we’re still very much working on communicating what our brand is all about, which is we make the best sports cars in the world”, he says. McLaren seems to be going places, much like what the 570GT is meant for doing. If life’s a journey, not a destination, then I certainly want to make that journey in a McLaren 570GT.


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