Standing in a small room in the Petersen Automotive Museum with the McLaren GT and a handful of Los Angeles–area automotive media colleagues, it wasn’t immediately apparent what made this McLaren different from all the rest—but it was clear there was a difference. The difference, it turns out, is not one of spirit, but of purpose; the McLaren GT is the first McLaren that’s for the street first and the track a distant second.
After all, even the cars you might call the “base” McLarens, the Sports Series cars (in the U.S., that means the 570S and 600LT coupes and spiders, as well as the 570GT) are outright rocket ships on track; the Super and Ultimate series cars go even farther toward the checkered flag of extreme performance. True, the GT in the 570GT’s name does indeed mean Grand Tourer, but the 570GT’s formula was to add comfort and practicality to the 570’s mighty dynamics. The new McLaren GT baked in the comfort, practicality, and luggage space right from the beginning.
Which is not to say the other McLarens aren’t perfectly good road cars—just that this one is more so, and also somewhat less razor sharp on track. Of course, “less razor sharp” is a relative term, as the McLaren GT still sports a super-rigid carbon-fiber chassis (dubbed MonoCELL II-T; the T is for “touring”) loosely based on the Speedtail’s, 612 horsepower and 465 lb-ft from its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8, a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, and a curb weight of just 3,384 pounds. Those stats help enable the GT’s blistering 3.1-second zero-to-60-mph sprint and its 203-mph top speed. Other key stats? The McLaren GT brakes from 62 mph in just 105 feet, according to McLaren, and 124 mph arrives in a scant 9.0 seconds. Should you choose to stop as quickly as possible from 124 mph, you will reach a standstill before you hit something 417.1 feet in the distance.
Perhaps the more relevant specs, however, are those of cargo volume, stowage locations, and passenger space. The GT is McLaren’s longest car to date at over 15 feet (184.4 inches to be precise), the model has a surprising 20.1 cubic feet of total stowage space in its cabin, the vast majority of which is located behind the two seats and above the engine. The space is part of what adds the T to the MonoCELL II-T chassis designation, as there’s a separate carbon-fiber structure over the engine to create the 14.8 cubic feet of cargo area that exists below the rear hatch. That hatch, by the way, comes standard with the ability to softly close itself and can be upgraded to full electric operation. McLaren says the GT can carry a single full-size professional golf bag, or two pairs of skis and boots, or, presumably, any other similarly-sized luxury sporting gear. Another 5.3 cubic feet of storage in the “frunk” leaves room for handbags, umbrellas, and other sundries.
For daily use, low-slung supercars are often limited in their locality by ground clearance. The McLaren GT hopes to dodge much of that difficulty with standard ground clearance of 4.3 inches and a 10-degree approach angle; use the included vehicle front-end lift function and those figures increase to 5.1 inches of clearance and a 13 degree approach angle. For comparison, a current BMW 7-Series affords 5.3 inches of ground clearance. A 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system, a 12.3-inch touchscreen interface for the infotainment system, Nappa leather trim and upholstery, optional cashmere surfaces, abundant Alcantara, and an available SuperFabric spec for the rear cargo area ensure the luxury bases are covered, as well.
This being a McLaren, however, it’s not all about the comfort and the going places—it’s not a Rolls-Royce Cullinan, after all. No, McLaren’s softest two-seater yet is still aiming to be the hardest-core, highest performing contender in the super-GT set. To that end, McLaren has developed its new Proactive Damping Control suspension system, leveraging the marque’s Optimal Control Theory software and sensors reading the road to react predictively in as few as 2.0 milliseconds. Three modes are offered: Comfort, Sport, and Track. While each is tailored to its purpose, Comfort mode is intended to be especially compliant, even with low-profile Pirelli P Zero tires and standard 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels (the latter being the largest wheels ever fitted to a McLaren).
Available for order now with first deliveries near the end of 2019, the McLaren GT starts from $210,000.