This is the one for me… (“dream on”, jeers the ghost of Christmases yet to come).
The arrival of the best sports car ever made in Britain -the new McLaren 570GT – makes me thank God I kept my hand on my ha’penny and didn’t lash out my children’s inheritance on any previous McLaren. Imagine, if I had spent £800,000+ on a P1, I would never have dared to take it out of its hermetically sealed garage. This one I could live with every day (“who do you think you’re kidding?” taunts the naughty fairy).
I like the looks more than any preceding McLaren. With wheels squarely on the corners, the potency of this track-developed machine has been concentrated coherently in classic, aerodynamic GT lines with an extended fixed rear spoiler. Not one superfluous millimetre here.
Lower and narrower sills and a wider sweeping arc for the signature dihedral doors make it so much easier for unathletic old chaps to get in and out that I only needed three bum shuffles to propel myself from the seat to a position where I could take my weight on my feet. Not exactly elegant but slightly more becoming that the stranded beetle on its back with helplessly waving tendrils that I become in more aggressively performance-centred McLarens.
In effect, what this means is that these cars would almost be in reach for normal people if they sold everything they owned and went without food or clothes for the rest of their lives.The trunk under the bonnet at the front is deep and wide enough to take a week’s supermarket shopping. A side-opening glass hatch at the rear – behind the two seats and covering the mid-engine bay – reveals a sumptuously leather-lined touring deck which offers an additional 220 litres of storage. We strapped in our picnic hamper for the test route and never heard a creak from its wicker. This is a sports car in which two people could actually carry enough luggage to go away for a weekend, or even a short holiday if they were disciplined about the packing.
That glass hatch, together with a standard fixed glass panoramic roof, contributes to the lightness and airiness of a cabin which is the most luxurious in any McLaren to date. Our test car was fitted with a 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system with five 25mm aluminium Nautilus tweeters, five 100mm Kevlar mid-range drive units and two 200mm carbon fibre & Rohacell bass subwoofers – all driven by a 14-channel 1280W Class D amplifier. You can’t get any better than that.
The quality of the materials and the standard of the finish are not bettered by any manufacturer, anywhere. Nor are any seats more comfortable than the 570GT’s, especially for the driver who faces steering wheel, instruments and pedals exactly square-on – as you should be for comfort and optimum driving efficiency.
For my driving companion’s taste, there wasn’t enough noise from the 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 M838TE engine with 570PS and 600 Nm. I told him he needed to give it more wellie.The civilising purpose continues with the ride, handling and steering. The suspension and the steering rack have been set up to ensure comfort on longer trips and bespoke P Zero tyres include an innovative noise cancelling system for a more serene experience on the road.
For my driving companion’s taste, there wasn’t enough noise from the 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 M838TE engine with 570PS and 600 Nm. I told him he needed to give it more wellie. When I set the powertrain and gearchange settings to Sport – which gives a blatting cylinder cut effect on gearchanges – and ran up and down the seven-speed transmission on the steering wheel paddles, a gloriously satisfying howl from the tailpipes was my reward.
The 570GT carbon fibre monocell chassis weighs just 75kg, contributing to a power-to-weight ratio of 422PS per tonne. That’s supercar power, you’re talking – borne out by performance figures of 0-62 mph in 3.4 seconds and 0-124 mph in 9.8 seconds. The veracity of those claims was fully examined during the mountain stretches of the test route in Tenerife and I can verify that they are fully accurate. What the figures don’t tell you, however, is how much fun it is to hit 200 kph on a short straight and then stand on the lightweight composite braking system (front 370mm x 32mm / rear 350mm x 30mm) with four-piston callipers to negotiate a line through a corner.
The categories and subdivisions of the McLaren array of cars are getting as brow-beating to follow as all those noughts and numbers in the Peugeot range. The £154,000 570GT, however, is part of the company’s mid-range Sports Series, along with the 570S Coupé and 540C Coupé. In effect, what this means is that these cars would almost be in reach for normal people if they sold everything they owned and went without food or clothes for the rest of their lives.
To my mind, that would be a perfectly reasonable sacrifice.
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