2020 McLaren GT: The no-compromise Grand Tourer
By now my neighbors have gotten use to the rotating selection of new cars in my driveway. Most of them know I review cars for the Portland Tribune/Pamplin Media Group and they hardly even notice when a subcompact sedan is replaced by a fullsize truck or a convertible shows up in the middle of the winter.
But when the McLaren GT appeared, several of them walked over to gawk and ask if they take pictures of their children sitting in it. I wasn't surprised. The McLaren GT attracted attention everywhere it went. The exterior styling is stunning — low and wide, with huge air scoops in front of the rear fenders, wide tires on massive wheels, and scissor doors that look like something out of sci-fi film.
The bodywork is wrapped around a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 stuffed behind the two seats. Mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, it can power the car from 0 to 124 mph in 9.0 seconds and hit a top speed of 203 mph, the company says. I can't that confirm since my driving was limited to public roads, but given the few times they were free enough I was able to get on it, those numbers seem reasonable to me.
McLaren is a British company that builds hardcore supercars and owns a Formula One team that is seriously challenging longtime champions Mercedes and Ferrari in the 2021 season. But when they debuted a new car dubbed the McLaren GT, enthusiasts were puzzled. Grand Touring cars are supposed to be performance models that can carry at least four passengers and their luggage on long trips. But the McLaren GT is a two-seater with limited cargo space.
The name is something of an inside joke. McLaren is not going to build anything but supercars. But the GT has slight nods to comfort, including a less-then-punishing default suspension setting, some additional cargo space under the rear hatch, and a little more interior creature comforts, including a Proactive Damping Control suspension intended to help smooth out the road. A custom designed set of luggage is also available, complete with a golf bag that fits under the hatch. But, as other reviewers point out, there's far less cargo space than other GTs on the market.
In other words, the McLaren GT is not meant to be a traditional GT. It is the McLaren version of a GT — which means it is still a sports cars on steroids that cost more than your house, and which requires you to change how you drive to meet its demands.
Despite its nods to comfort, the McLaren GT is not intended to be a daily driver, unless your day job is professional racer. For starters, simply getting in and out of it is challenging for just about anyone older than a teenager. The scissor doors look cool opening and closing, but they don't open all that wide and a big step is required to reach the seats. Getting out is even harder — and frequently has to happen when everyone in the area is staring.
As expected, rear visibility is very limited. Fortunately, the McLaren GT comes with both a rear view camera and 360 degree overhead view to help detect nearby objects.
But all is forgiven when the engine fires up. The sound is both raw and refined, a constant reminder of the available powers. The McLaren GT is surprisingly easy to drive at low speeds, even though crowded city streets. But when pushed it accelerates blindingly fast — especially when the engine and transmission is set in Sport and especially Track modes.
The handling is also adjustable. In the Comfort mode, the ride reasonable over bad pavement. It is stiffer but still livable in the Sport mode, but the Track mode is really best left for the track.
The McLaren GT is clearly not intended to appeal to the potential GT owners that plans long trips with his family and enough luggage for several days of vacationing. But if you want the absolute fastest, least compromised high-performance GT on the planet, it is the only choice.
2020 McLaren GT
Base price: $215,500
MSRP as tested: $241,025
Type: Grand Touring supercar
Engine: Twin turbocharged, intercooled 4.0-liter V8 (612 hp, 465 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Modes: Comfort, Sport, Track
EPA estimated mileage: 15/22
Overall length: 184.4 inches
Curb weight: 3464 pounds
Final assembly: Woking, Surry, UK
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