Test drive report: The McLaren GT
McLaren says it has ‘rewritten the rules of modern Grand Touring’ and I can honestly report that the company has remodelled my memories of the joys of driving a glorious GT.
OK, I admit, my first experience was at the wheel of the now defunct MGB GT in the 1980s, which was a shade more comfortable than my soft-top MGB which used to blow a gale across my fringe (when I had hair) and leave my nose as icy as the windscreen.
With this BD90,000 McLaren GT you’re talking a totally different driving experience. It was the fifth McLaren model I’ve had the pleasure to test drive and my favourite to date. It has everything a man of my maturity could possibly desire.I try to keep fit with a morning jog, but getting in and out of a normal sports car with my dodgy knee and aching Achilles can be somewhat ungainly and undignified. But not so with the McLaren GT. This car was made to measure.
It’s easy to slip in and out of … and once you’re inside the fit is insanely pleasurable.
Practical for everyday use, from a driver perspective it’s a lot more comfortable and better tailored for our roads because the ground clearance has been much improved too. It’s an ‘every day car’, perfect for driving to and from the office and on the occasional trip to the golf club, of course.
It’s not a track car, it’s everything a grand tourer should be, designed to take you across the causeway for an adventure to the UAE with ease with an incredible amount of power, but more of that later.
Positioned alongside the established Sports, Super and Ultimate Series families, this is a new McLaren for a new audience and provides an alternative to existing products in an expanding market segment, the company says.
A bespoke MonoCell II-T monocoque body structure – the T denoting ‘Touring’ – incorporates a carbon fibre rear upper structure that adds minimal weight but allows the creation of a 420-litre luggage area below the front-hinged, full-length glazed tailgate. The tailgate has a soft-close function as standard and can be optioned as electrically powered as part of the Premium Pack version I drove.The low height of the engine and positioning of the exhaust system has allowed the volume, shape and usability of the luggage bay to be optimised. A golf bag, for example, as well as luggage, can be carried with ease, while a further 150 litres of storage at the front means the new McLaren GT can accommodate a total of 570 litres.
It seemed only fair to throw my irons, sand wedge and putter in the back and head off down to the Royal Golf Club and call into a few of my favourite haunts on the way.
At almost 4.7 metres long, the new McLaren GT is longer than any of the cars in the McLaren Sports or Super Series. The front and rear overhangs also extend further than is traditional for McLaren, but the 10-degree front approach angle (13-degree with vehicle lift engaged) allows the new GT to cope with the most aggressive traffic calming measures; in combination with underbody clearance of 110mm (130mm with vehicle lift) this ensures the car is eminently usable in all urban situations, competitive not only with all rivals, but in ‘lift’ mode the equal of mainstream sedans.
That proved handy when we approached the fort near Seef and drove over numerous speed bumps. Within seconds of parking up, the car was besieged by onlookers grabbing images and taking selfies alongside it.
That’s because it’s a good looking beast.
There are two levels above the standard specification – Pioneer and Luxe – and beyond this the opportunity to choose options from McLaren Special Operations (MSO), at the soon-to-be-open regional centre in Sakhir, for both interior and exterior enhancements, including even lighter carbon fibre components and 14 MSO defined paint colours.
This is in addition to the 16 colours available within the McLaren GT palette, five of which – Black Ingot, Viridian, Amaranth Red, Burnished Copper and Namaka Blue – are newly-introduced for this model.
The width and stance of the car are emphasised at the front by the signature ‘hammerhead line’ that runs horizontally across the nose and draws the eye to the sides of the vehicle, while at the rear an integrated fixed rear wing, large diffuser and substantial exhaust tailpipes reinforce that this is a grand tourer with supercar performance.
A new 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged engine produces 620PS. Designated M840TE, it further expands the family of McLaren V8 engines. Bespoke to the new GT, it has the immense power and torque and superior exhaust sound quality that are the hallmarks of a true Grand Tourer.
Peak torque of 630Nm is produced between 5,500rpm and 6,500rpm, with more than 95 per cent available from 3,000rpm to 7,250rpm.
The new engine is mated to a 7-speed SSG transmission to deliver linear, seamless and relentless acceleration.
With a launch-control function optimising acceleration from a standing start, 0-100km/h is achieved in only 3.2 seconds, and 0-200km/h in just 9.0 seconds. The maximum speed of the McLaren GT is 326km/h although, of course, I’d never dream of driving that fast on our highways.
Within a blink of the eye, however, videographer Fardan and I, were pulling into Riffa Views.
* Check out our adventure here (VIDEO link below) and for more details, contact McLaren Bahrain, visit the showroom in Tubli, or call 80007878.
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Stanley Louis Szecowka
Editor/Journalist & Blogger, Restaurant & Motors Reviewer, FinTech Writer, Manager, Trainer.
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