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[NEWS] McLaren GT 2022 long-term review

McLaren GT 2022 long-term review

1 McLaren GT 2022 long term review lead

What better for Autocar’s longest commute than an extravagant grand tourer?

Why we’re running it: To see if a mid-engined supercar really can work as a commuting grand tourer

#Month 1">Month 1 - #Specs">Specs

Life with a McLaren GT: Month 1

Welcoming the GT to the fleet - 26 January 2022

Here’s what we said about a McLaren when we road tested it back in 2017: “The car’s class-transcending performance comes combined with remarkable breadth of ability on the road (ride and handling that can be more supple, progressive, tactile and mild than any true rival), with excellent usability, too, and with more indulgent on-the-limit track handling than any McLaren we’ve known before.”

To my mind, that’s all that would indicate the car could make a good stab at being a GT. But we didn’t write those words about a GT. That road test verdict – and a five-star rating, incidentally – was reserved for the 720S. Which is part of the reason why McLaren finds itself in a quandary with the car we’re lucky enough to be running for the next three months: the actual McLaren GT.

Spun on further, the debate continues: can a mid-engined, supercar-based GT be the ultimate car to live with, or are the compromises too much, especially when the actual supercar from the same brand already does such a good job at the daily stuff? In the rarefied world of these things, it’s going to be a heck of a few months finding out.

And to kick things off in suitably superlative style, we managed to line up our GT with a 720S to do a bit of back-to-back comparison, meeting at Millbrook Proving Ground. But more on that in a second. First, some details on the GT we will be running.

The GT is built around McLaren’s Monocell carbonfibre tub (essentially an evolution of the 570S’s without a roof section), as opposed to the Monocage II of the 720S, but it does share the supercar’s 4.0-litre V8 and electro-hydraulic power steering. Peak outputs are 612bhp and 465lb ft, with 95% of the latter arriving at an un-supercar-like 3000rpm.

Our GT is in Luxe trim. It’s nigh-on identical to Pioneer trim, except it gets full leather instead of a leather and Alcantara mix – as befits the names, really. There’s also the ‘base’ Standard trim, but that has you make do with manual reach and rake adjustment. Think of the effort...

As you will have already noticed, our car isn’t in the most subtle of hues. This particular paint is called Belize Blue, and it’s certainly doing its bit to attract all sorts of phone-camera attention on the UK’s motorways. With a £4000 price, it’s the most expensive option on the car.

The Panoramic Privacy Tinted Glass Roof (£1750) is one that I would opt for, if my early judgement counts for anything; you can’t get the GT in Spider form, but this large expanse of glass certainly opens things up a bit.

The Glass Black diamond-cut wheels (£1650) also look a bit of all right. Wrapped in Pirelli P Zero tyres, they really do help give the car a convincing stance. I’ve seen other GTs on more normal alloys, and they don’t have anywhere near the kerb presence. Speaking of which, these look like they could easily be damaged, so there will be a metre-from-the-kerb rule put in place. Width restrictors are banned.

Privacy glass (£500) and Polished Special Colour brake calipers with a silver logo (£1270) round out the cost options.

The GT is the entry point to McLaren ownership, with a starting price of £163,000. The firm divides its cars into three categories: GTs (containing just the GT seen here); supercars (the 720S and Longtail variants, each soon to be joined by the all-new V6 plug-in hybrid Artura) and the Ultimate Series (expensive specials like the Elva and Speedtail).

As you would expect of two different cars targeting two different types of buyer, the GT is softer than the 720S, both in theory and in practice. Its V8 produces 98bhp less than that of its sibling, while it also gets an increased ride height (by just 3mm, although with up to 130mm with the nose lift engaged) and more sound-deadening. Mind you, it still weighs only 1530kg, so it’s hardly a lardy thing even with the extra leather and noise insulation.

Do they feel that different on the road? Even driving them back to back, it’s pretty marginal stuff. In the GT, everything feels wound off by about 2%. The car still rotates around you and is incredibly precise in its major controls (all hail electrohydraulic power steering), but it’s lacking that last element of enveloping sportiness. The steering doesn’t tuck the front tyres into a corner with quite as much bite.

At the moment, with slippery roads around, I’m grateful for that. The steering is plenty sharp enough as it is for road use, with the nose hunting out apexes just on the acceptable side of aggressive.

So far, then, it’s doing the cross-country thing very well. As a GT and for my mammoth commute from the Midlands to Middlesex? Well, finding that out will come soon enough. What a chore it’s going to be...

Second Opinion

My issue with the GT has never been its handling balance or the character of its steering, nor anything else that matters when you’re simply in the moment, enjoying the drive. It does those things well. It’s the GT brief that undoes it, because despite the name and brochure bumf, this is still a mid-engined supercar, with all the associated joys and frustrations. How long before Piers tires of the dihedral doors or the iffy over-the-shoulder visibility and wonders why you wouldn’t just buy an Artura or, more temptingly, a used 720S?

Richard Lane

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McLaren GT Luxe specification

Specs: Price New £163,000 Price as tested £172,170 Options Belize Blue Elite paint £4000, Panoramic Privacy Tinted Glass Roof £1750, privacy glass £500, Glass Black diamond-cut wheels £1650, Polished Special Colour brake calipers with silver logo £1270

Test Data: Engine V8, 3994cc, twin-turbocharged, petrol Power 612bhp at 7500rpm Torque 465lb ft at 5500-6500rpm Kerb weight 1530kg Top speed 203mph 0-62mph 3.3sec Fuel economy 23.7mpg CO2 270g/km Faults None Expenses None

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