I’ve been flying the flag on the continent behind the wheel of British supercar-maker McLaren’s powerful new long-legged and refined 203mph GT grand tourer.
And before I even pressed the accelerator, I was bowled over by the gorgeous, aerodynamic lines that are elegantly sophisticated rather than shouty and beautiful rather than brash.
Nevertheless with its dramatic uplifting winged or ‘dihedral’ doors delivering a wonderful flourish of theatre it will always attract attention – even among the super-rich on the Cote D’Azur in the South of France where I was driving it – as the number of people keen to take a photograph proved.
McLaren’s first Grand Tourer: Ray Massey has been testing the new McLaren GT – the British firm’s latest £163,000 supercar that’s ideal for long distances
Hole in one: The McLaren GT might be able to hit 203mph but it also has enough boot space for Ray’s golf clubs so he can drive in style to the driving range
The winged doors have been ‘optimised for use in a tight space’ but you’ll still need just over 10ft width of parking space (a sizeable 129 inches or 3,286mm) if both you and your passenger are to get out.
With impeccable manners and typically British understatement (in supercar terms anyway) this smart Surrey-boy from Woking can certainly give those snake hipped Italian rivals a run for their money in the charm department – and is 130kg lighter than its nearest competitor.
And if you fancy a round of golf around Saint Tropez, Cannes, or Monaco there’s even room in the back for your bag and clubs.
McLaren bosses stress that this is the their first true venture into the Grand Tourer market and that the new near 4.7m long GT is therefore arguably their most useable and engaging car to date for everyday use, while still boasting a super-lightweight body, competition levels of performance, and ‘continent-crossing capability.’
It is being produced at their hi-tech home counties factory alongside the firm’s full-on Sports, Super and Ultimate series supercars and shares the same ‘DNA’ as the McLaren’s £2million hybrid GT Speedtail, with the promise of outstanding ride comfort and cabin refinement.
McLaren’s GT is being produced at their hi-tech Home Counties factory alongside the firm’s full-on Sports, Super and Ultimate series supercars
Its dramatic uplifting winged or ‘dihedral’ doors deliver a wonderful flourish of theatre so it will always attract attention – even among the super-rich on the Cote D’Azur in the South of France where Ray Massey has been driving it
On the tightest of turns the GT grips the road with impeccable balance, poise, imparting supreme confidence in its road-holding ability. It really puts a smile on your face, says Ray
The new McLaren GT is the fourth and latest car in the British firm’s Track25 business plan which will will see £1.2bn invested in 18 news models and derivatives with a view to helping it remain a strong and independent part of the McLaren Group.
The new GT is powered by McLaren’s powerful new 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine which develops a hefty 620 horse-power, equivalent to six Ford Fiestas.
Will it fit in my garage? New McLaren GT
Built: Woking, England
Price: From £163,000
My car as driven: £201,650
Engine: M840TE 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 (3994cc)
Power: 620 PS
Transmission: 7-speed seamless shift gearbox (SSG).
Modes: Comfort, Sport and Track.
Top speed: 203mph
0-60mph: 3.1 seconds
0-62mph (100km/hr): 3.2 seconds
0-124mp (200km/hr): 9.0 seconds
0-1/4 mile (400m): 11.0 seconds
124mph-0: 127 metres/ 417 feet
62mph-0: 32 metres / 105 feet
CO2 emissions: 270g/km (WLTP)
Average Fuel consumption: 23.7 mpg (WLTP)
(I averaged 17.5mpg).
Fuel tank capacity: 72 litres (15.8 UK gallons)
Grand Touring range: 374 miles
Length: 4683mm (184.4 inches)
Mirrors in place: 2095mm (82.5 inches)
Mirrors folded: 2045mm (80.5 inches)
One door open: 2690mm (1059 inches)
Both doors open: 3286mm (129 inches)
Underbody clearance: 110mm (130mm with vehicle lift). Designed to beat ‘aggressive’ traffic calming
Chassis: Carbon-fibre single cell monocoque, with carbon-fibre upper rear structure and aluminium crash structures.
Brakes: Cast-iron discs and calipers. Optional carbon ceramic discs with forged
Wheels: Pirelli PZero tyres: 20-inch front, 21 inch rear.
Dashboard: 7-inch high resolution infotainment screen/ 12.3 inch instrument cluster
Front: 150 litres
Rear: 420 litres
Total: 570 litres
This is linked to a smooth but slick automatic 7-speed seamless shift gearbox (SSG) with manual over-ride paddles tucked behind a mercifully uncluttered-by-buttons steering wheel.
There are three settings. ‘rack is self-explanatory and really only for use off-road on a race circuit.
Comfort proved perfect for tootling through town and through villages at low speed without feeling that the car is straining at the leash to break away, with ride height, ground clearance, tailored for urban conditions including coping with speed-bumps and other traffic calming measures,
A pro-active damping control suspension system uses sensors to ’read’ the road ahead, interpret what will happen next and react predictively within two milliseconds. Hydraulic steering also helps comfort and confidence.
But Sport mode is where the fun-factor really kicked in for me on gloriously serpentine mountain roads. On the tightest of turns the GT grips the road with impeccable balance, poise, imparting supreme confidence in its road-holding ability. It really puts a smile on your face.
Overtaking is also made much easier with a burst of instant speed on those too infrequent straight stretches when a convoy of three holiday homes really does need to be passed with acceleration from rest to 60mph in just 3.1 seconds (0-62mph in 3.2 seconds), and up to 124mph ( I never got to that on a public road) in 9.0 seconds, covering a quarter of a mile in 11.0 seconds.
But the figures don’t really do justice to the planted, balanced and fun feeling of driving the car on a long journey. There’s launch control, if you must, for a really flying start.
Playing with the paddles you also get a wonderful soundtrack from the exhaust as you kick down though the gears on a hairpin bend then blast off again down the open highway or through a mountain tunnel.
I was transported back to my childhood and felt like the late Sir Roger Moore – between his outings in the Saint and the Bond movies – in the opening scenes of the ‘70s adventure series The Persuader, playing aristocratic Lord Brett Sinclair, racing in his yellow Aston Martin DBS against his American co-star Tony Curtis playing rough-diamond rags-to-riches entrepreneur Danny Wilde in his red Ferrari Dino.
Such performance requires hefty stopping power with brakes that will slow down the car from 124mph to dead stop in 127 metres (417 feet) and from 62mph in 32 metres (105 feet).
They certainly do the job but need a firmer press than I’d expected, so perhaps some light finessing in order on the final production cars.
Average fuel consumption is a meagre 23.7 mpg (on the new ‘real word’ WLTP measure), though my own spirited driving brought that down to just 17.5mpg, with official CO2 emissions a high 270g/km that will have green campaigners wincing.
However, a fuel tank capacity of 72 litres (15.8 UK gallons) gives a theoretical grand touring range of 374 miles between fill-ups.
But even at the cheapest supermarket prices, you’re looking at around £90 per fill-up when using standard unleaded, never mind the more expensive higher octanes.
Clever design of the rearward extending tear-drop shaped cabin, means there’s a surprising amount of space for luggage totalling 570 litres. Up front under the bonnet there’s a deep and wide area of 150 litres big enough for two overnight bags which swallowed easily both my travel and computer bag.
The rear storage spreads 420 litres under the long, glass tailgate like a shallow ski-slope that rises in a gentle gradient from the back, over the low-riding mid-engine area, before dipping down again right up to the back of the two driver and passenger seats. But with judicious placing of bags and lying them flat, you can pack a fair bit – including a pair of skis or a golf bag and clubs – without obscuring the view through the rear mirror. There are also cross-straps to hold bags and coats in place.
There are three trim levels: Standard, Pioneer and Luxe and a choice of 16 standard colours, five of which are new for the GT.
Average fuel consumption is a meagre 23.7 mpg (on the new ‘real word’ WLTP measure), though Ray’s more spirited driving brought that down to just 17.5mpg
There are three trim levels: Standard, Pioneer and Luxe and a choice of 16 standard colours, five of which are new for the GT
The rear storage spreads 420 litres under the long, glass tailgate like a shallow ski-slope that rises in a gentle gradient from the back, over the low-riding mid-engine area
You’ll certainly save on your gym membership because getting in and out is a great test of your agility and a work-out for your abs as you negotiate the space left by the uplifted winged door. The electronic buttons on the sumptuous sports seats also take a bit of getting used to as you have to do it all with a sense of touch as they are out of sight.
It takes a bit of getting used to. But if, as McLaren hope, this is your ‘everyday car, then it will soon become intuitive. But once inside and settled in behind the wheel it is ‘ab fab.’
McLaren GT luggage
McLaren offers a full set of bespoke luggage items starting from £1,700 for the semi-aniline leather garment case with a soft grey lining featuring the McLaren logo and a metal clothes hanger.
A ‘weekend bag’ will set you back £1,850 and a cabin bag £2,800 But keen golfers will have to pay £5,000 for the full-sized McLaren golf bag – and that’s without the clubs.
Like all supercars, it’s not a cheap proposition. The new GT is priced from £163,000 (including VAT). However the car I drove was loaded up with a lot of extras which bumped the final price up by £38,650 to £201,650.
The fetching Burnished Copper paint was a £4,000 addition, 15-spoke forged alloy wheels added £2,750, the sports exhaust £3,400.
The electro-chromic panoramic roof. which you can lighten or darken in five stages from transparent to opaque like sunglasses to keep cool inside, was £4,950 with privacy glass another £500. A solid roof is standard with a normal glass panoramic roof also an option.
The £9,900 Luxe pack has a NASA-designed super-tough and easy to clean ‘SuperFabric’ luggage bay floor liner; power-adjusted and heated memory comfort seats; power-adjusted steering column; soft-grain Analine and leather interior, and piano gloss black interior surrounds.
The £3,750 Practicality Pack adds items including a rear view camera, front and rear parking sensors, electrically folding and heated door mirrors.
The £4,900 Premium Pack adds full LED headlights, premium Bowers & Wilkins 12 speaker audio system, powered opening and closing glazed soft-close rear tailgate, cabin air and pollen filtration.
And a £4,500 MSO (McLaren Special Operations) bright pack adds ‘bling’ for wheels, exhaust and exterior window surrounds.
You’ll certainly save on your gym membership because getting in and out is a great test of your agility and a work-out for your abs as you negotiate the space left by the uplifted winged door
The interior is typically McLaren, with a button-laden centre console and a single portrait-mounted screen in the dashboard
Playing with the paddles behind the steering wheel, you also get a wonderful soundtrack from the exhaust as you kick down though the gears on a hairpin bend then blast off again down the open highway or through a mountain tunnel
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