First things first: The McLaren GT is not simply a kinder, gentler 720S. OK, dig and you’ll find plenty of 720S DNA. But the GT is very much its own car, specifically designed and engineered by McLaren to carry two people and their luggage across continents, in comfort and at speed. In fact, say McLaren engineers, 65 percent of the GT’s parts (by value) are unique to the car.
It starts with the carbon-fiber monocoque. Dubbed Monocell II-T, it features an entirely different upper structure to that of the 720S, with sweeping rear pillars framing an opening for a large, top-hinged hatch. It’s clothed in a unique set of body panels with simpler, less obviously aero-influenced surfacing than seen on the 720S. Although the 105.1-inch wheelbase is unchanged, the GT is about 7.8 inches longer overall. The extra length, along with the raised nose and horizontal character lines, gives the GT a more formal gesture than the typical mid-engine supercar.
Learn five cool facts about the 2020 McLaren GT right here.
The GT’s interior features lashings of jewellike luxury brightwork and sumptuous leathers. The seats are mounted slightly higher to improve entry and egress, and cashmere material covering—a world first—will be available as an option. The infotainment system is now five times faster, has a smartphone-style interface, and delivers real-time traffic information.
The GT’s suspension is similar to that of the 720S, but it features spring rates optimized for comfort and refinement and adaptive shocks controlled by proactive damping software. Ground clearance has been increased, and McLaren claims the redesigned front end means the GT has better approach angles than either a Porsche 911 or an Aston Martin DB11. Bespoke all-weather Pirelli tires, mounted on new GT-specific alloy wheels—20-inch diameter up front and 21 inches at the rear—feature noise reduction technology to help reduce road roar and impact harshness.
The GT’s retuned, mid-mounted 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 also gets its own nomenclature: M840TE. It delivers 612 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque at more than 7,000 rpm, drops of 98 hp and 100 lb-ft compared with the 720S engine. However, the M840TE’s torque curve is flatter—there’s more than 369 lb-ft on tap from about 2,000 rpm—to allow more relaxed cruising and easier passing.
“Relaxed” is, of course, a relative term: McLaren says the GT will rush to 60 mph in just over 3.0 seconds, to 124 mph in 9.5 seconds, and will have a top speed in excess of 200 mph. That’s slower than the more powerful, 206 pounds lighter 720S, of course, but with a still impressive weight-to-power ratio of 5.5 pounds per horsepower, McLaren claims the 3,373-pound GT is both quicker to 60 mph, and faster overall than either the Ferrari Portofino or Aston Martin DB11. Porsche’s 911 Turbo S is the bogeyman here, though: Massive torque and all-wheel-drive traction mean it’ll hit 60 mph in a scarcely believable 2.5 seconds, en route to a 205-mph top end. But, McLaren says, the Turbo S won’t carry as much of your stuff as the GT.
To maximize the GT’s luggage capacity, the M840TE’s plenum chamber is 4.7 inches shallower than that of the 720S engine, and the new exhaust and muffler system runs outboard of the routing taken in the 720S. The GT’s deep frunk has a capacity of 5.30 cubic feet, and the load space behind the rear seats, though long, narrow, and shallow, measures 14.83 cubic feet. Never mind a 911 Turbo S: McLaren claims the GT will carry more than a Ford Focus hatchback with the rear seats folded flat. To prove the point, McLaren design chief Rob Melville hauled five soft hold-alls and a golf bag out of a GT during the reveal at the McLaren Technical Centre in Woking, England.
The McLaren GT is the result of feedback from buyers of the surprisingly popular 570GT, which has built a solid reputation as supercar with genuine daily driver capability since its launch in 2016. “The 570GT taught us a lot about what is important to customers in the segment,” said Ian Digman, head of product management at McLaren Automotive. “Customers wanted more comfort, more luxury. And they were looking for a distinct model in the lineup, not just a variant of an existing car.”
Another factor in the decision to develop the GT: an opportunity to expand McLaren’s reach into a larger market segment. McLaren says the global high-end GT market is about twice the size of the global supercar market, totaling 12,000 vehicles a year. By combining supercar performance, agility, and style with the comfort and everyday usability of a grand turismo, McLaren believes it can attract new buyers to the brand, as well as upselling those who love their 570GTs.
The McLaren GT will launch in the US in the third quarter of this year, with prices starting from $215,000 to $220,000.
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Author: Angus MacKenzie