Having constantly striven to build the fastest, and most track-capable players in every subsection of the supercar map, McLaren is now launching what it calls a GT. A car with a softer chassis, more luxury and more cargo area. But with the 570GT, that softness is of course relative.
This is still McLaren. This is still a car that's by far the lightest in its class at 2,976 pounds, catapulted by a 562-hp twin-turbo V-8, still a car that will, its maker claims, run a standing-quarter in 11.1 seconds at 132 mph. Which class is that? McLaren cites the Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Turbo. McLaren is pricing the GT, as the top-line 570, at around $195,000.
The 570GT will eventually be one of a trio of body styles. We have driven the 570S; now we see the 570GT. Next year comes a Spider version of the same car. All three were designed at the same time, so in theory none of them should feel compromised. The main and obvious difference between the GT and the S is in the body. There are no more "flying buttresses" behind the upper doors. Instead the bodywork sweeps into a gentle, softly curved fastback. To maintain near-zero lift, a slightly taller rear lip spoiler is fitted, and to keep the engine bay cool there are larger exhaust vents aft of the rear windshield.
That windshield opens. It's hinged down its left-hand edge, so you can stand at the curbside and lift bags in and out. Two soft airline-cabin bags will fit behind the seats, and then a laptop case and suit carrier will lie on the deck above the engine. With those in place, the rear-view mirror still affords a reasonable view. The rear space is 7.8 cubic-feet, to add to the 4.6 cubic-feet in the nose.
Versus the 570S, McLaren has subtly changed the chassis. The front springs are softened by 15 percent and the rears by 10 percent. The steering ratio is 2 percent more relaxed. The tires are bespoke to the 570GT, aimed at slightly better comfort and lower road noise. But they are the same size as on the 570S. Iron brakes are fitted. The 570S uses carbon-ceramic, but the iron rotors mean more progressive operation at road speeds and cheaper maintenance.
Because the chassis and weight changes are so subtle, the engineers claim the car still offers pretty much the engagement of the 570S. Which is a sublime thing. All the adjustable parameters of the 570S are retained: normal, sport, and track settings for both the powertrain and the chassis, including dampers and ESP.
Extra luxury spec on the 570GT includes a beefed-up stereo, standard heat-shielding glass roof (the 570S' is carbon fiber) and leather across more cabin surfaces. The seats and steering column adjust electrically as standard. Parking sensors and soft-close doors are fitted, too. It's not just the tires that are quieter; the exhaust muffles more than the one in the 570S --although the S' system can be substituted as an option.
No luxury maker misses the chance to sell high-price branded accessories, and McLaren will sure enough be offering plush leather bespoke baggage to make use of every cubic inch.The 570GT's exterior lines flow beautifully. The 570S, with its flat rear deck emphasizing the engine, is definitely more visually aggressive. The GT also has fully body-colored door skins, whereas in the 570S the part behind the aerodynamic "tendon" is black. The 570S also has a black engine cover.
The net effect of the design changes is the the GT isn't trying quite so hard to shout its sportiness. I chatted about this to a McLaren marketer; use a 570S for daily errands, we agreed, and it's like you've shown up at the pub wearing a full Nomex race suit. By contrast, the 570GT is immaculately tailored but casual.