MOST SUPERCARS are really only super for the driver. Passengers cheer as the turbo spins to life, or extol the virtues of electronic damping, but you’re more likely to be told, “Slow down, I feel sick,” than, “Wow, darling, you really ought to be in Formula One.”
They’re also about as practical as a pair of Speedos in a snowstorm; most mid-engined supercars have barely enough space in the nose for a weekend away. That’s why McLaren is introducing the 570GT. Based on the 570S, the company’s junior supercar, it adds . . . a side-hinged rear window. This magical piece of glass, it says, transforms the car from a self-indulgent toy into a versatile grand tourer.
There’s also a convincing argument that the GT is the better-looking car; the sweep of its fastback is more elegant than the vertical rear window and “flying buttresses” of the S. There’s also a tinted glass roof — pinched from the P1 hypercar — that lends light and even romance to the cabin.
It has a real sense of theatre and those dihedral doors, a McLaren signature, make the rival Porsche 911 Turbo look old-school. No other car in the price range is quite so “super”.
The cockpit’s swathed in a mix of carbon fibre and dead cow, and there’s some neat detailing including a digital dashboard. If you opt for the Track mode, this looks like a tribute to Knight Rider’s Kitt, which isn’t nearly as naff as it sounds. There’s no denying the McLaren feels more exclusive and couture than both the 911 and Audi’s R8.
It’s not perfect, though. The standard seats feel as if they’ve been designed with the American market in mind, if you catch my drift. If you’re lanky, you should opt for the carbon fibre sports seats (a mighty £5,010).
The car’s new-found versatility can also be overstated. The rear hatch supplements the boot in the nose and adds 220 litres of capacity. Pack some squishy bags and there’s now enough space for a week away, but the rear area is oddly shaped and luggage needs to be lifted over the bodywork.
But at least it is a proper McLaren. The twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8 is present and correct and the 562bhp is enough for 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 204mph. The 570GT is brutally rapid, helped by an ever-responsive paddle-shift gearbox.
There’s a smidgen of lag while the turbos come to the party, then a mighty wallop of thrust. It’s accompanied by an aggressive growl that sounds more purposeful than melodic — automotive symphonies are not the Macca’s strong suit.
“The 570GT is brutally rapid, helped by an ever-responsive paddle-shift gearbox”
It drives beautifully, though. To create the GT, the engineers softened the suspension, and driving it back to back with a 570S over some less than perfect roads, the GT is noticeably more comfortable.
To further differentiate the GT, McLaren has also retuned the steering to make it a little less responsive. Arguably this makes the car less tiring to drive on long motorway trips but it also takes the edge off its agility.
The GT costs £154,000 —almost £11,000 more than a 570S — for which you receive that posh roof and rear window and a few other luxury trinkets. You still need to add a nose-lift system to cope with UK speed bumps, a reversing camera, an alarm and delivery, which brings the real- world price to close to £160,000.
But if a £160,000 car can ever truly be good value, then the 570GT is it. Not only is it the best car McLaren makes now, it also stands alongside the new Ferrari 488 GTB as the best of the bunch.