Is it a grand tourer? Is it a supercar? The 2021 McLaren GT skirts between multiple personalities to present a well-rounded package that’s worth its weight in gold. Business Live Middle East’s Alvin Thomas writes.
Gunning for top-tier icons in the game, McLaren enters the grand touring supercar segment ambitiously with its sights set towards glory. But what it achieves with the GT goes far beyond the praxis of grand tourers; it takes a decade-old automotive recipe and rewrites it to good effect.
It is, then, every bit a McLaren as a modern McLaren should be: British in the soul but with a touch of lunacy to evoke the true sense and passion of driving. It’s a winning formula that has propelled the carmaker into novel avenues that have since become desirable.
And desirable the GT is. A supercar by design, the McLaren GT exudes strong mid-engined vibes with its shorter-than-average overhangs and taller and muscular B- and C-pillars. While it invokes the true spirit of a supercar, the sharp headlamps and taillamps keep the GT glued to the company’s signature design ethos that has brought it in line with its competitors.
The fascia remains largely unfussy with sharp cuts, crevices, and intakes that serve no more purpose for aesthetics than what the engineers demand for aerodynamics. It’s slick but remains planted in the corners like what you’d expected from a no-nonsense supercar. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
Endowed with 612hp and 630Nms of torque from a 4.0-litre low-inertia and high compression twin-turbocharged V8 motor, the GT brings enough steam (perhaps a tad too much) to the streets. While we didn’t push the car to its limits, McLaren claims that it’ll hit the 100kph mark from a standstill in about 3.2 seconds, and climb its way to 200kph in nine seconds flat. Top speed is capped at an eye-watering at 326kph.
It takes a bit to realise that you’re in the presence of greatness. The 1,530kgs-heavy car built around a carbon-fibre MonoCell chassis delivers on the bends just like it does in the straights. Peak power is delivered at 7,500rpm, at which point, the induction noise is drowned by the swooshing wastegate noises and turbo whistles. Albeit, the overall in-cabin noise/vibrations/harshness levels is kept to a minimum, with a refined V8 roar kicking in post the 3000rpm mark and when the ‘Sport’ or ‘Track’ mode is activated.
The steering is well-weighted with enough feedback translating through the column. Tip-in response to the throttle pedal is what you’d expect from a modern supercar in the aggressive driving modes, and the seven-speed transmission is potent in its kickdowns and gearshifts under high rev load. We did, however, find the brakes to possess numbness at slower speeds. This is quickly negated when the brakes heat up.
Electronic nannies galore, the McLaren GT comes with the brand’s smartest (and quickest) systems to keep the car in check. ESP and Traction Control are intrusive when the car predicts an imminent spin, or upon full throttle at which point the rubber in the 295/30 R21 rear sections waste away into an expensive cloud of smoke.
But maintain a soft foot and the car will behave like a grand tourer should. Offering somewhere around 10.8l/100kms, the McLaren is relatively frugal for a touring supercar. Minus the rock-hard Alcantara seats, it’s quite comfortable on smooth roads.
On the convenience front, the boffins will add features such as an intuitive Stop/Start system, auto LED lamps, dihedral scissor doors with soft-close, a 7-inch touchscreen system, and a 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster that adapts to the drive modes. The GT also comes with a four-speaker audio system as standard.
Whether the GT’s target audience will daily-drive the super-luxurious and driver-centric McLaren is the million-dollar question – but with a chassis that invokes the best in craftsmanship and a raw driving experience – the car will speak to its owners just like a comparable supercar would.
This leads us to the conclusion to the McLaren GT could very well be one of the best grand touring supercars in recent times to make its way from the UK.