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First drive: McLaren 570GT. Image by McLaren.

First drive: McLaren 570GT
McLaren 570GT adds space and grace to an already hugely appealing package.

   



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McLaren 570GT

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

The second of McLaren's Sports Series models benefits from more usability, greater refinement and a touch more space. It's still wickedly quick though, very much McLaren's interpretation of what a GT car should be.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: McLaren 570GT
Price: 154,000
Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: seven-speed SSG automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, two-seat coupe
CO2 emissions: 249g/km (Band L, 870 per year)
Combined economy: 26.6mpg
Top speed: 204mph
0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
Power: 570hp at 7,500rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 5,000- to 6,500rpm

What's this?

The second of McLaren's 'Sports Series' line-up, the 570GT, which gains a 'Touring Deck' over its 570S relation. Given the GT tag McLaren has also dialled back the more hardcore nature of the 570S a touch. Only a little bit though, as the 570GT is still very much a junior supercar in its make-up, with a little bit of added day-to-day user friendliness thrown in.

Visually, it's distinct from the 570S thanks to the different rear styling. That 'Touring Deck' consists of a side-hinged glass hatch accessing 220 litres of additional storage space behind the front seats. The 570GT hence loses the 570S's flying buttresses, making the rear of the 570GT more elegant and less fussy looking. The different aerodynamic properties its shape creates requires the addition of a neat spoiler along the rear's trailing edge, which, again, looks good to us. There's body coloured rather than contrasting strakes in the doors, too, helping the 570GT's style be less extrovert than the 570S's. If we had one complaint about the 570S it was the rather busy rear styling, and the 570GT addresses that perfectly. That's our take on it, but some will prefer the 570S's lines, the winner here ultimately being choice.

To go along with the revised styling and additional space McLaren has slightly softened the 570GT's character, with reduced spring and damper rates front and rear as well as a two per cent reduction in the steering ratio to help smooth its response at the high cruising speeds McLaren anticipates its customers will use it for. With little difficultly, too, as the 570 in its name refers to its power output, and this GT car trails the 570S to 62mph by a scant 0.2 seconds, covering the benchmark sprint in just 3.4 seconds. A GT car then, and a very fast one.

How does it drive?

There is undeniably a slight increase in refinement over the 570S alternative. Comfort levels are higher, thanks to both those suspension revisions and the improvements in refinement. It is still a carbon-fibre constructed, mid-engined sports car with 570hp, and however much McLaren dresses it up as a GT, it's very much its own interpretation of that genre. That's to say it's still a hugely engaging, fiendishly quick car, with a few concessions to civility.

Without a 570S to drive in direct comparison, the ratio change in the steering is all but imperceptible, and the 570GT steering's weighting and precision are never in question. It's the clarity of the communication that is so engaging though, the steering rich in information, without being overly busy. In steering it feels not dissimilar to a Lotus Elise. McLaren is sticking with a hydraulic rack, to the benefit of feel, and it considers that more essential to the car than the small economy gains it might achieve if it adopted an all-electric power steering system. It's the right decision. Complementing the rich steering feel is a suspension set up that finely balances control, composure and comfort, even though the Sport Series cars make do with a more conventional set-up in comparison to the Super Series 650S and its 675LT spin-offs.

The three modes on offer increase in focus from Normal, Sport through to Track, though even the Track setting manages to ride with surprising civility despite its more focused bias. All of that hangs off McLaren's stiff MonoCell II structure, a light, stiff and strong carbon fibre tub that helps the 570GT with its dynamic make up, and contributes too to its relatively low kerb weight. Those elements of its make-up allow the 570GT to carry its easily gained speed with real finesse. The chassis' fine balance and huge grip levels, allied to the 3.8-litre V8 bi-turbo's relentless energy, make for an extremely accomplished and very fast car. It's not as noisy as its 570S relation, but that's kind of the point.

To get the very best from the 570GT requires the various powertrain and dynamic settings to be fiddled with. My preferred setting was powertrain in Track mode and chassis in Sport. It is also crucial to have the ESC stability control setting in Dynamic mode. Forget to do the latter and the 570GT's slightly tighter thresholds can create a rather disjointed drive, the electronics denying demands for the full force of the 3.8-litre V8 engine until it's got full traction, creating an effect that could, thanks to the absence of any tell-tale flickering ESC light (and the subtleness of its operation), be misconstrued as turbo lag. ESC Dynamic addresses this, allowing the 570GT driver to exploit more of the engine's power earlier, bringing far greater exit speeds and even quicker response from the accelerator. It also allows a lot more movement under power, giving much greater control to the driver. The easily read limits make this something to be enjoyed and exploited rather than something to be fearful of.

Do that and the speed it gains is remarkable, the engine's enthusiasm to rev, allied to the speed of the SSG automatic transmission's decisive shifting makes for a hugely entertaining, rousing driving experience. It's at its best above 4,000rpm, where it chases up to its lofty redline with increasing ferocity. The brakes, optional carbon ceramic items here rather than the 570GT's standard iron discs, are unending in their force, while pedal feel is good, too. Such is the balance of the chassis and faithfulness of the steering response it's easy to trail brake deep into a corner, where there's a hint of mild understeer if you're asking too much from it, though it's easily dialled out for neutrality or as much power-aided oversteer as you like. What's genuinely impressive, along with the ride comfort and the steering feel, is the 570GT achieves such high levels of grip, traction and chassis balance without having resorted to the four-wheel drive system that defines its key Porsche 911 Turbo rival. It's a more organic, engaging and appealing driver's car as a result, which, though billed as a GT, is still very much in the sphere of the very best supercar and sports car alternatives.

Verdict

The 570GT's shared DNA with its 570S relation is obvious and it's a supremely quick and engaging car, with a marginal improvement in civility. We cannot help but think it'd be better still as a 'GTS', with some of the refinement improvements and that cool Touring Deck styling (and the debateable increase in useable luggage space) allied to the more focused suspension and quicker steering that the 570S comes with. Not that the 570GT feels lacking, you understand; in isolation it's an astonishingly capable, ridiculously rapid car, but we know it could be better again.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Kyle Fortune - 24 May 2016



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