SMALL changes have big effects, and although the idea of a McLaren Sports Series with more luggage space and softened-off 54 suspension doesn’t sound like a radical idea, the new 570GT proves to be more than the sum of its parts.
The big change is the arrival of what McLaren calls the “Touring Deck”, a secondary luggage compartment at the back of the car and above the mid-mounted engine, accessed through a sidehinged glass hatchback.
It might sound like a relatively minor tweak – the 570S Coupe already has some squashy bag space behind its seats – but it’s effectively a whole new body style and one that requires the GT to pretty much wear a rucksack. Yet it looks as good as, if not better than, its Coupe sister.
There’s 220 litres of space at the back – in addition to 130 under the front bonnet – with the rear deck also being insulated to stop the 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine that sits underneath it from cooking the contents of any bags you entrust to it.
McLaren demonstrated this by loading up a Fortnum and Mason hamper packed with delicacies and then ordering me to try as hard as I liked on a 130km driving route over some of the twistier sections of Tenerife. My delicious lunch emerged unscathed.
The GT also gets a standard panoramic glass roof, which makes the cabin feel far lighter and more spacious than the 570S and gives the driver a suitably widescreen sensation. A tough gig, but somebody’s got to do it.
Driving is where things start to diverge from McLaren’s script.
The company is keen to push the 570GT as being a different proposition to the 540C and 570S coupes, yet – despite chassis tweaks including softened springs, revised software and even a lower-geared steering rack – it feels very similar on road.
In its Normal chassis mode, ride is impressively pliant and the turbocharged engine and sevenspeed dual-clutch gearbox handle schlepping well, but turn up the pace and it does a convincing impression of the 570S, or even the 650S – raucous, mind-readingly reactive and quick enough that you have to keep reminding yourself that this is McLaren’s ‘junior’ model.
The 570GT is probably the closest thing to a GT that McLaren will produce. It’s not as effortless as most of its obvious rivals are; owners will be reminded they’ve bought a junior supercar every time they have to clamber over the sill and past the upwardhinged doors. However, it adds both utility and character to the 570S without requiring you to make any significant sacrifices in return.
McLaren admits it doesn’t know how many buyers will opt for the GT. “It’s a new part of the market for us,” says Andy Palmer, the company’s vehicle line director (not the Aston Martin CEO).
“We think there is enough differentiation over the S, but it doesn’t matter if buyers opt for one or the other.” McLaren hopes to reach its target of 4000 cars a year next year, with about two-thirds of those being Sports Series.
Not as compliant (or different) as McLaren intended Extra luggage capacity; bright, comfortable cabin; ride; performance Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Kerb weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale McLaren Sports Series 570GT 3799cc V8 (90°), dohc, 32v, twin-turbo 419kW @ 7500rpm 600Nm @ 5050rpm 7-speed dual-clutch 1350kg 3.4sec (claimed) 10.6L/100km (EU) $390,000 (estimated) Q3 2016