When McLaren announced its foray into the GT segment, one may have wondered which direction they would lean towards—a truly comfortable cruiser that gives up on the racing front, or hard-edged supercar that just happens to have a bit of a boot? It is called simply the McLaren GT (from RM908,000 before tax), and the first glance is a bit telling: it is a strict two-seater that has the purposeful aerodynamic sculpt that is the brand’s signature, as well as the butterfly doors, for starters. Most pointedly, the engine sits just behind the driver. McLaren is, if nothing else, consistent—the carbon fibre monocoque construction is here, too.
In a vacuum, the GT feels like a sports car. The low cockpit needs healthy knees to stoop down and clamber into. The cabin layout is focussed and free of distractions, with little in the way of door pockets or centre console storage. It is plenty powerful: the twin-turbo V8 (another McLaren signature) puts out a maximum 612bhp for a 0-100km/h time of 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 326km/h. It is agile, poised, and utterly capable, with the powertrain and seven-speed transmission rewarding confident and proficient driving.
It is when the GT is compared to other McLaren offerings like the 720S or 570 models that the differences become apparent. Its styling may have similar cues, including the massive intakes behind the doors, but the lines are less dramatic and aggressive. It has indeed made compromises in the name of comfort—for example, the seats are, in fact, slightly higher, for a better viewpoint and more natural seating position. The ground clearance is higher as well—the GT driver will have to reach for the hydraulic lift mode far less often that the 720S user. The suspension is indeed softer, and the growl of the V8 somewhat muted. On Comfort mode, the GT is noticeably more languid in response and casually lazy underfoot, requiring a bit of a nudge to unleash itself—making it less taxing experience for casual and lazy drives.
Of course, the GT’s biggest differentiator by far is its tailgate, and the luggage compartment beneath. The tailgate itself is a slick piece of engineering, and an organic part of the GT’s snub profile. In addition to the 150 litres of space found in the front cargo area, the rear boasts of a sedan-approaching 420 litres. The caveat is its long and shallow profile—perfect for golf clubs, skis and guitars, but will require some thought for suitcases and anything vaguely box-like. Furthermore, without the optional privacy cover or tinted rear window, its contents will be in plain view. It is a good thing McLaren has also just launched a spiffy-looking luggage collection just for the GT.
Suitably, interior options are short on carbon fibre but long on leather—aniline leather, to be exact, soft and properly luxurious and crossing the entire cabin. The tint-variable electrochromic roof is back and a particularly nice option to have on leisurely road trips. A 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system will handle the entertainment.
This is still not the most practical of cars, but there is also a tantalising amount of everyday usability to the GT—while offering some unique engineering for the segment and preserving the McLaren supercar feel.