2017 McLaren 570GT review

It's billed as the more refined, luxury car in the McLaren range, but make no mistake, the 570GT is a devastatingly fast car that belongs in the big league club

This might be billed as the most refined and luxurious model in the McLaren range, but make no mistake – the McLaren 570GT is still a ferociously fast car capable of mind-blowing performance.

The 570GT is part of McLaren’s ‘Sports Series’, which also boasts a couple of equally spectacular exotics; the 540C and 570S, with all three powered by slightly different versions of the same Ricardo-built 3.8-litre twin-turbo petrol V8.

In the GT’s case, the numbers are truly impressive despite its relatively modest engine displacement. But that’s the same with all McLaren road cars – the sheer grunt their engineers are able to extract from a small V8 is just extraordinary.

Unleash all 419kW and 600Nm of twist, and the 570 GT is capable of smashing the benchmark 0-100km/h dash in a blistering 3.4 seconds. Push on, and the 200km/h mark comes up in a g-force-assaulting 9.8 seconds flat. To me, this is still a big-league supercar, no question.

Those power and torque figures for the GT are identical to the marginally quicker 570S (3.2 sec); the main difference attributed to the 37kg weight penalty carried by the new luxury version. That said, there isn’t another fully-fledged supercar-grade grand tourer within coo-ee of the McLaren, when you consider its $406,800 (plus on-roads) price tag.

McLaren claims it’ll run the quarter-mile in 11.1 seconds with a closing speed of 213km/h, while top speed is quoted at a warp-like 328km/h. Behind the wheel though, the 570 GT feels even quicker, with the same kind of organ-smashing thrust on tap as a full-blown 911 Turbo.

The GT label is there for its greater carrying capacity and moderate levels of practicality, but don’t get too excited; for anything other than a weekend fling or a visit to the gym, you’re still going to be looking to a Rangie.

At least McLaren has made something of an attempt here by equipping the 570 GT with an E-Type Jag-style rear window, which opens up to 220 litres of space in the form of a shallow bench. It’s sort of like a split-level backyard (not overly practical), though there’s another 150 litres under the bonnet – remember, this is a mid-engine sports car.

Up front, there’s enough room for keys, wallet and a single cup holder, but that’s about the extent of it. It’s not a lot, but at least you’ve got the basics covered.

Space aside, the 570GT feels properly special inside in the same way that a Ferrari feels special when you first climb aboard. The entire cockpit is wrapped in lavish, twin-stitched hide, and there are plenty of authentic carbon-fibre and metal accents that all point to a crafted look and feel.

The instrument stalks are also exquisitely crafted, as are the optional Bowers & Wilkins speaker grates – fashioned to expose the yellow speaker cones inside.

It feels roomier than your average supercar too, thanks to the 570’s panoramic glass roof. It’s tinted with the same sound and solar film as the roof on the McLaren P1, but I wouldn’t leave it parked out in the open on a summer scorcher as there’s no escaping the heat, regardless.

That said, McLaren has equipped the 570GT with an enhanced dual-zone climate control system that regulates and maintains the set cabin temperature using a two-stage auto function with ‘Auto’ and ‘Auto-Lo’ – the latter also minimising fan noise within the cabin.

Other creature comforts include a pair of eight-way electrically adjustable sports seats, which not only look the part, but are wonderfully comfortable, despite the multi-layered cushion design and aggressive bolster. Hours of highway cruising in the 570GT seem effortless.

Infotainment systems in some supercars feel like an afterthought (though most hard core enthusiasts don’t have a problem with that), but the 570GT offers something quite decent, with interfaces for the air conditioning, phone, navigation and audio systems accessed through an easy-to-use centrally mounted touchscreen, though graphics aren’t particularly high-res.

We like the 570GT’s digital instrument display, too. It’s not as sophisticated (or as graphic) as Audi’s latest Virtual Cockpit display – more like a fancier race car-style module incorporating a large tachometer with digital speed counter.

But let’s face it, you don’t buy a McLaren – even a luxury-billed McLaren, for its interior appointments. In fact, they may not figure in the overall purchase decision whatsoever.

Exterior styling, though, is definitely a key consideration. And while it’s fair to say McLaren is still evolving its very own DNA in this regard, the 570GT is perhaps one of brand’s most handsome designs to date.

We particularly like the rear end treatment. It’s clean and uncluttered compared to the 570S, and all the better for it, in my opinion.

But just like Ferrari, McLaren is a sports car marque born out of racing (most notably Formula One) and performance and handling are key brand traits, and vital to its ongoing sales success.

Oddly enough, it’s not the power play that first comes to mind as you climb aboard for the very first time. It’s more the refinement and general cabin insulation that impresses, at least initially.

Ride comfort was always a strong selling point for the original McLaren MP4-12C road car, and thankfully, that characteristic continues with the Sports Series.

There’s a newly-developed suspension system that uses coil springs and adaptive dampers instead of the more exotic hydraulic system in the Super Series, but ride quality is still very good.

The key ingredients are reduced spring rates (15 per cent at the front and 10 per cent at the rear) coupled with anti-roll bars. Drivers can toggle between several settings – Normal, Sport and Track to fit the road conditions.

Around town, you’ll want to leave it in normal, as there’s a surprisingly decent level of compliance on offer. In this mode, you’d never know this was a supercar capable of speeds in excess of 300km/h plus.

Bumps are ironed out, even on patchy roads around suburbia. Sport stiffens things up (but not too much) and sharp edges are well and truly felt through the chassis; more so in Track mode, but any semblance of roll is also completely and utterly banished, not that there’s much to begin with.

But there’s more to it than that. Despite the everyday-levels of pliancy, the 570GT loses little if any of the hard wired-like connection with the driver, which McLaren’s are known for. You’re still able to detect minute movements by the front tyres and position the car perfectly for the bends, thanks to some brilliant chassis tuning.

Grip levels are huge, making chicane exits a real treat. No matter how hard, or how quick, you care to squeeze on the power, the 570GT just hunkers down and goes. There’s no unsettling body movement from the lightweight chassis either, just pure poise.

In keeping with its slightly softer market positioning, McLaren has also reduced the car’s steering ratio – by two per cent. It’s still quick and precise, but you’ll need to apply more lock.

Cabin noise is reduced too, mainly due to more sound absorbing materials near the bulkhead and touring deck, as well as specially developed Pirelli P Zero noise-cancelling tyres, which are supposed to reduce tyre roar inside the cockpit by up to three decibels. And it’s remarkable how quiet things are inside the 570GT – it’s refreshing.

That refinement carries over to the 570’s seven-speed, twin-clutch transmission. This is a remarkably polished gearbox by any measure. In Normal mode, it feels more like one of ZF’s finest automatics, such is the seamless nature of each shift – even in stop/start traffic. It’s also in perfect sync with the car’s more relaxed damping.

Rotate the ‘P’ (for Performance) switch to another bespoke transmission calibration and it’s a similar story, only with a quicker, more rewarding driving experience, though still with a level of refinement that’s simply not expected with such potent throttle response.

Track mode spins up crazy levels of go (albeit with some turbo lag), and while you can certainly feel each shift and cog swap, they’re not neck-snappingly violent shifts like a Lamborghini at full tilt in Corsa mode.

If there’s a downside – and I loathe to call it that – then it has to do with the 570GT’s lack of a properly visceral engine note, like it’s awe-inspiring V10 rivals from Audi and Lamborghini. Even the 4.0-litre Porsche 911 GT3 RS delivers a world-class bark to rival its Le Mans racer siblings.

The brakes are a bit of a mixed bag, at least for me. Foregoing ceramic discs for traditional cast-iron isn’t the issue – they still offer big stopping power, but to get there, you need to really drill the left pedal like there’s no tomorrow, before the pads start to bite. There’s very little feel, too – more like racing brakes in that regard.

The Price? $406,800 plus on-roads and plus options – and there are plenty of those on our tester – try $76,794 worth of extras. That’s everything from the Rocket red badge set to the Vehicle lifter. But, honestly, that’s to be expected these days, with high-priced exotica like the 570GT.

There are also plenty of tasty rivals on offer for similar kind of money. Like the Audi R8 V10 plus from $389,900, or the four wheel-drive Porsche 911 Turbo priced at $384,900 – both of which can be said to provide the same kind of daily usability as the McLaren.

But neither offer that premium feel of the 570GT inside. Only the $405,600 Bentley Continental GT V8 S gets a cabin that looks and feels quite so hand-crafted as that in the 570GT.

So the wrap? This is almost as quick as a 570S, looks better, and has more carrying capacity – what’s not to like?