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An everyday supercar? McLaren GT sets the standard

The McLaren GT: everyday beauty, power and practicality.
The McLaren GT: everyday beauty, power and practicality.

Driving a supercar is always a treat, especially as winter gathers. So it was with delight and alacrity that I accepted McLaren’s invite to drive their GT.

The McLaren GT is the British supercar maker’s “entry level” model, with prices starting at a mere £163,000.

Those initials stand for “Grand Tourer” which traditionally means a sports or supercar that’s comfortable and practical enough to drive across Europe in.

Entry level prices start at a whopping £163,000 for the McLaren GT.

The vast majority of GTs have their engine in the front to free up boot space at the rear. McLaren has gone against the grain, making the GT mid-engined for better balance and handling.

Its 4.0 litre V8 has twin turbochargers and generates a heady 620bhp. It is very, very fast indeed. Zero to 62mph comes up in 3.2 seconds, 0-124mph takes 9.0 seconds and it’ll cover a quarter mile from standstill in 11 seconds. Top speed is 203mph.

Gull wings make the supercar magic

Superior uphill speeds assisted by the V8 engine.

Hydraulic gull wing doors lift upwards to access the cabin – making me feel the supercar magic before I’ve even set foot inside the GT.

Much of our driving took part at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. One of the largest car testing facilities in Europe, it has miles of private roads.

These include a hill route designed to mimic Alpine driving, a speed bowl and a mile-long straight.

These proved the perfect roads on which to explore the McLaren GT’s capabilities.

It gains speed uphill faster than most performance cars can accelerate downhill

A joyous drive.

Thankfully my visit to Millbrook took place between storms and the temperature was a relatively balmy 10 degrees. The last thing I needed was icy roads.

Over the swoops and dips of the hill course the McLaren GT was simply joyous. I’m not nearly a good enough driver to explore the handling limits of a supercar but suffice to say its grip is astonishing.

The McLaren GT offers superior grip and stability.

It gains speed uphill faster than most performance cars can accelerate downhill, accompanied by a glorious yowl from the V8 engine.

One of McLaren’s pro drivers sat in the passenger seat to make sure that both the car and I remained in one piece. On the mile straight he invited me to accelerate up to 120mph then hit the brakes.

A sooth operator at 120mph.

The rear end of the car squirmed and slid in first and second gears as it struggled to put 620bhp onto the tarmac. Then it straightened up and roared forwards.

When we hit 120mph I stood on the brakes and the McLaren was hauled to a stop in an impossibly short distance.

Superior acceleration and braking

Over on the speed bowl we once again roared up to 120mph, this being the fastest speed we were allowed to go at without race helmets on.

Sitting at a banked angle in the fourth of the bowl’s five lanes I was impressed by how smooth and comfortable the McLaren remained even at that speed.

Excellent visibility and space to spare for even the tallest gentleman.

The engine has been engineered to be as small as possible to create more boot space. A large glass tailgate lifts upwards to reveal a surprisingly big boot. It’s long but shallow, meaning cases won’t fit here easily.

However there’s a deep boot under the front which will easily swallow a couple of holdalls. In total the McLaren GT has a remarkable 570 litres of boot space.

Despite its sleek proportions, the McLaren has a surprising 570 litres of boot space.

After a thrilling morning at Millbrook I was able to test the McLaren GT on public roads and set off on a mini tour of Bedfordshire.

Obviously, this was no place to push the car’s performance so I enjoyed cruising around for an hour. What struck me was just how easy to drive the McLaren is.

A supercar – without the hard work

McLaren GT “incredible” even by supercar standards.

I’ve been lucky enough to drive a lot of supercars over the years and, while spectacular, they’re all hard work in one respect or another.

Shortages of head or legroom, limited visibility, or highly tuned engines unhappily crawling along in rush hour traffic are among many common issues.

Creature comforts in the cabin.

The McLaren GT has none of these faults. It accommodated my 6’5” frame with room to spare. Visibility was excellent. Ride quality is remarkable, especially for a car that sits just inches off the ground.

It even handles speed bumps easily. This is a car you could drive to work every day and pootle down to the shops in at the weekend. It even has a boot big enough for a Tesco shop.

The McLaren GT is incredible even by supercar standards. Jaw dropping looks, blistering performance, impressive comfort and everyday usability are among its many talents.

A talented performer, the GT is just as capable in everyday tasks.

The Facts

Model: McLaren GT

Price: £163,000

0-62mph: 3.2 seconds

Top speed: 203mph

CO2 emissions: 270g/km

Economy: 23.7mpg

Detailing in the design.

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