Why You’ll Love the Spectacular McLaren 570GT, Mostly
There’s a trick to sliding into the 2017 McLaren 570GT with ease: Be athletic. You’ll need the muscle control and flexibility as you swoop inches above the ground to settle in behind the wheel. Those with bad backs, short skirts, or rotund bellies need not apply.
You’ll also want to be someone who appreciates elegant aggression. The $198,950 570GT is more refined in look and subdued in tone than its $184,900 570 S sibling. The soft-close, dihedral doors are still there, of course, but gone are the flying buttresses that defined the rear. And here, the jaded roar of the original 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 has been tuned down into a throaty, respectful growl.
In the GT, you’ll also get a glass roof stretching like an observatory dome from the front seats to the rear spoiler of the car, where a hatch opens to allow access to generous leather-strapped storage space.
If you’re like me—I drove a $216,840 version for five days around New York and New Jersey—you’ll find the effect so diverting, you may even forget the car that came before. (Extras such as the $4,230 Ice Silver exterior paint inflate the price quickly.)
Just don’t buy this one in traditional McLaren orange. A beautiful car like this deserves a better hue than that.
A Fluid and Fast Driver
Yes, the 570GT does have the same mid-engine 3.8 turbo V8 (562 hp, zero-60 mph in 3.4 seconds) as the 570S—but this one has an exhaust tuned quieter, in keeping with the softer steering and suspension that also accompany this model. Top speed is still more than 200 miles per hour.
I drove mine out to meet some friends at a vintage filling station-turned-café in Orangetown, N.J., last Sunday; the winding two-lane route up 9W was the perfect test of the 570GT’s smooth-road performance. There’s a reason why Motor Trend named the 570S the best driver’s car of the year, and the 570GT isn’t far off: the light, fleeting way it steers, the way it mimics Michael Jackson's moonwalk as it transfers weight across the road, the way its tires grip the road as though they’ve gone molten with the asphalt—it all turns a routine drive up the freeway into some sort of vehicular dance.
The Formula 1-racing-derived rear-wheel drive and seamless seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission make the car so empathetic that I started to believe my hands on the wheel were really peripheral to the act of driving. It’s a singular feeling few sports cars (Bugatti, a couple other McLarens, say) can replicate.
At 3,296 pounds, the 570GT weighs 121 pounds more than the S version, but much less than such competitors as the Porsche 911 Turbo S (3,682 pounds), Audi R8 (3,649 pounds), or Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S (3,627 pounds). You will feel the difference. Credit the glass roof for that, additional weight that also makes it a fraction slower than the 570S (that Porsche is by far the fastest of the lot). I certainly have no complaints, though. Those other cars are phenomenal—but feel way more grounded than this one does. The 570GT feels more like you’ve achieved liftoff.
Let’s Call Them Quirks
I would take objection to one or two other things on this car, however. The sight lines out the back of the 570GT are limiting to the point of frustration, even with the see-through hatch; half the time driving around Manhattan I muttered a prayer under my breath as I pulled out in traffic. This is very bad feeling, to say the least, and unsafe, too.
Elsewhere you’ll find the suspension unnervingly rigid to the unprepared. Mechanical changes have decreased the rate of the springs at the front by 15 percent and at the back by 10 percent. A saving grace is that the car will lift almost two inches at the touch of a button. Still, passing over cobblestones (half of SoHo near where I live) and circumventing potholes (most NYC roads, let’s be honest) required the utmost patience and care. If your normal driving routine involves roads fraught even lightly with these obstacles, do not buy this car. Emotionally and physically, it won’t be fun.
Last on the demerit front I should mention the center-of-dashboard, touch-screen computer that manages most systems in the car. It’s situated vertically and stands nearly a foot high, as do those in other McLarens, and comes with navigation, Bluetooth, and Sirius radio. But the orange-and-black typeface looks outdated, with imprecise touch-sensitivity on the screen, and the images on screen lack the same clarity and high resolution you feel when you press the gas pedal.
A Car With Real Style
And now I’ve saved perhaps the best for last, which is how this car looks. To my eye it’s the best-looking specimen McLaren makes, less angular than the P1, of course, but more aggressive than something like the 540C. (They all are nearly impossible to tell apart. But this one is good.) The 570GT’s compact body and low chiseled nose are set off on either side by blazing LED headlights. The Pirelli P Zero tires, the sensually curved rear end, and dramatic vents will elicit “Whoa!” wherever you go, from skater kids and Upper East Side nannies to retirees and their dates on weekend drives. The effect is heightened the moment you open one of the winged doors and casually slip out. No need to play up your clothing, hair, shoes, jewels or attitude here; the car is more than enough.
You’ll be surprised how many people from all seasons of life can identify and appreciate this car; it gets all the attention of a Ferrari or Lamborghini without the emotional baggage that sometimes accompanies those storied Italian brands. To wit: I have been yelled at for my apparently too-loud Ferrari engine roar while passing though a quiet Hampton hamlet; that has never happened in a McLaren.
If you can, splurge on the carbon fiber wheel arches ($2,320), sports exhaust ($3,940), Bowers & Wilkins sound (eight speakers come standard; 12 cost $2,240), and the factory visit pickup, which gives you priority access to McLaren headquarters in Woking, England, before you drive away in your new car. It's free, if you can afford to spend the time.
And why not. The 570GT isn’t a perfect car, but it comes very, very close. You might as well go all in to make the entire experience your own.