The 570GT demonstrates McLaren's well-established path of creating brilliant cars with slightly confusing – and less than emotional – names. The 570 is the company's newest model line, slightly smaller and less overtly supercar-esque than the top-of-the-line 650 (which is in turn utterly overshadowed by the strictly limited edition P1, the closest thing any company makes to an F1 car for the road). It’s available in two flavours, S for sport and this new GT, a mildly softened version with a longer rear deck and space for just enough luggage for a decent trans-continental jaunt. Such things matter, especially as McLaren is making a big deal of those customers who use their cars on a daily basis, rather than keep them for high days and holidays and preferring to polish rather than actually drive.
From the outset of McLaren’s modern car building programme the emphasis has been on far-reaching capabilities, i.e. cars that are easy to drive, ride sublimely and handle with the kind of easy grace and sprightliness that one might associate with a far smaller and track-biased car – a Caterham or Lotus, for example. Where the latter fall down is in their overall refinement; being able to place a car perfectly for a series of tight corners means little when you’re thudding across a broken road surface or struggling to engage reverse and back into a tight parking spot. Getting that intimate with a car of this capability isn’t just a question of getting in and going. Because McLaren prides itself on its independence, you won’t find any shared parts or familiar knobs and stalks in the 570GT’s leather-lined interior. Everything here is pure McLaren and as such it has a little streak of alien unfamiliarity to it – no bad thing in an increasingly homogenous automotive world.
The GT has a breathy, long-legged character that's intended to be slightly more relaxed than its sport-focused sibling. The new lift-back arrangement not only allows for more luggage space but gives the car a more fluid, elegant profile. Like every car in this particular sector, the 570GT is low, wide and visually striking. Placing the engine amidships does wonders for a car’s balance, but it also demands a complex system of vents and openings to keep things cool. The very best supercars make dramatic work of their ducting, with scooped flanks to divert air into the radiators. The 570GT is no exception, and the scissor doors are works of sculptural art in themselves, with a buttress-like extension over-sailing a colossal air intake ahead of the rear wheels. Even the headlights – with their tight curved forms – dive down into the front intake above the carbon fibre splitter bar.
Will McLaren always be an idiosyncratic choice? This car is entirely competitive with whatever mid-engined machine Ferrari or Lamborghini happen to be pushing at the moment. For many, many supercar buyers, the decision process begins and ends with the prancing horse or raging bull, but the GT’s breadth of talent also makes it a natural competitor for cars like Bentley’s big Continental GT, Mercedes’ S63 Coupe and Aston Martin’s new DB11. None of these will disappoint, and it'll ultimately boil down to quite how focused you want your car to be. The 570GT is always precise, dynamically peerless and has limits that you'd struggle to exceed anywhere but on a dedicated race track. If your kind of grand tour is a full-throttle experience, this would be the car to take.