The McLaren Gran Turismo: A More Livable Supercar
A more comfortable, but no less exciting, McLaren.
What We Know
The supercars in McLaren's newly formed line of Sports Series models aspire to be daily drivers. The McLaren 570S, the first car in the program, is far more focused on comfort than the brand's bigger, brasher offerings, yet an even cozier McLaren is coming.
The Gran Turismo should be the best-looking car in McLaren's lineup. It will be a lot like the 570S, with the same basic carbon-fiber chassis tub, turbocharged V-8, and high-tech suspension, but the Gran Turismo will look unique thanks to a wildly different roof treatment. The fixed roof will be all glass with a sloping, fastback roofline. When you look out of the back of the 570S, you see only engine. That won't be the case in the GT, which will have much better rear visibility.
The McLaren GT's cabin will be appointed in a way that will make long drives not only livable but also enjoyable, with extra stowage behind the driver's headrest. The GT's exterior will be more understated than that of the 570S. Since it will be powered by essentially the same twin-turbo, 3.8-liter V-8 from the 570S, expect power output to be right around the 562 hp that car's engine makes. But the cost for a McLaren GT will almost certainly surpass the 570S' $185,000 price.
Why It Matters
Well-heeled enthusiasts looking to buy a grand touring exotic have typically had only a litter of traditional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive Italian cars with high-strung V-12s from which to choose. New-age McLarens, with their sophisticated hydraulic suspension systems and finely tuned handling, are fantastic cars to drive down the road, but their interiors have been typically unwelcoming. The Gran Turismo will raise the bar for the new line of models in the McLaren Sports Series by combining the same refined driving experience with a more refined driving environment. More important, the mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive Brit with a twin-turbo V-8 will shake up a segment that's been monopolized by front-engine Italians for far too long.
Remember the McLaren MP4-12C? The first street car from McLaren since the F1 some 23 years ago, the 12C went on sale just four years ago. And yet the 12C nameplate has already disappeared from McLaren's lineup, along with many of the executives associated with its styling and sales strategy, due in large part to sluggish sales. Although McLaren has existed for a good while as a racing team, it is basically in its infancy as a boutique automaker. Missteps are inevitable, yet the car business is no more tolerant of failure than racing is, and one disaster can lead to a downward spiral, spelling the end for cars like the Gran Turismo.
When to Expect It
A McLaren Gran Turismo concept should hit the auto show circuit next year. Development won't be an issue since almost all of its parts are already in production, but McLaren won't start building the GT until it thinks the timing is right. Simple as that.