Did you doubt McLaren could make a success in the supercar big league?
We admit we thought the company from Woking probably wouldnt make the cut. Since its roadgoing F1 gained almost mythical status since its launch some 25 years ago, but its easy to overlook the fact that McLaren only planned to build 100 of them. Indeed, it struggled to find enough buyers to complete the set.
In this context, Ferrari is the name that immediately comes to everyones lips, or Aston Martin for something a bit more civilised and grown up. Oh, and Porsche if you don't quite have the wherewithal for the Italian or British brands.
We took the 570GT to a nice hotel in the Cotswolds, where it got a lot of admiring looks in Burford High Street as we tried to find somewhere to park
History is littered with ambitious entrepreneurs who had the millions necessary to build a new entrant to the world of extreme sports cars. Just look at Ascari, Lotec, Tramontana, Panoz, Cizeta, Farbio, Lightning – the list goes on and on.
McLaren, though, understood the fundamentals from the very beginning. It wasnt millions but hundreds of millions that was needed to enter this market successfully and become a long-term player. And it had a money-cant-buy attribute that sat alongside the deep pockets of its backers: a very desirable brand name. McLarens cars win races (or at least they did back in 2012), and there was fabulous traction to be gained from Lewis Hamiltons F1 world championship titles.
Fast forward to 2018 and McLaren offers three model ranges of increasing price, performance and complexity. The 570GT is at the most affordable end of the spectrum, which means that, on paper at least, prices start at less than £160,000. For that you get an extremely good-looking coupe with a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8, rear-wheel drive and seven-speed gearbox that can be driven as an automatic or paddle-shift manual.
Inside the 570GT
The GT part of the equation hints at this being a more civilised version of the 570S. That means slightly softer suspension and steering tweaked to make it a touch less twitchy. On the luxury side, theres also more leather, a tinted glass roof and a side-opening glass tailgate that effectively doubles the luggage space.
We took the 570GT to a nice hotel in the Cotswolds, where it got a lot of admiring looks in Burford High Street as we tried to find somewhere to park, and were grateful for the elevating front suspension that would see the nose safely over speed humps. The visibility is actually pretty good when manoeuvred in tight spaces.
Giving the McLaren a bit of stick on the winding roads of Gloucestershire the next morning, theres real delight to be had from the manner in which it scythes through bends – and hits the legal limit in just a few seconds. Its easier to exploit than most supercars, most of which often feel too big on UK roads.
In a bizarre twist, this 570GT was fitted with the optional Sport Pack, which gives the firmer suspension of the 570S for an extra £5,000. I see the business logic of offering this to customers, as it did garner some criticism for its softer suspension, but it does nothing for ride comfort and offers questionable gains in the driving behaviour.
Nonetheless, the 570GT is the McLaren that makes us want to buy into the brand. Its a fabulous drive, looks brilliant and loses very little in terms of credibility over the more expensive models. Just dont kid yourself its easy to live with. For that you still need a 911.