British supercar company McLaren makes great sports cars. They’re fast, loud, responsive and they look like spaceships. But, unlike Ferrari or Aston Martin, the company has never really made a grand touring car that’s designed for comfort as well as speed.
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That’s not to say that the new McLaren GT, unveiled Wednesday, won’t be a lot of fun to drive. It almost certainly will be. But it’s longer, quieter, and has lots more luggage space than McLaren’s sports cars. There’s just a little less emphasis on ultimate cornering ability.
McLaren has previously offered the 570GT, but that was really a sports car with some extra luggage space carved out of its slightly bulbous back. It wasn’t engineered, from the outset, to be a touring car so it lacked comfort and refinement. In the new GT, McLaren promises a more relaxing experience.
The GT’s $210,000 price tag roughly matches its most direct competitors. Unlike those cars, though, it has its engine behind the seats rather than up front under the hood. That should give it a bit more of a supercar feel when turning corners. Its bulging rear fenders, a classic GT car design feature, hold large air intakes for the radiators that cool the engine.
The 612-horsepower turbocharged V8 engine can carry the GT from zero to 60 miles an hour in just over three seconds, with a top speed of 203 miles an hour, McLaren said.
The body is made mostly from carbon fiber, a light but very strong material. That strength allowed designers to open up a lot of room for glass around the cabin, aiding visibility and giving the interior a light and airy feel. The roof has a large glass panel that can be darkened with the touch of a button.
To keep the car quiet, the GT has engine mounts – essentially rubber blocks that help hold the engine in place – that are softer than those in McLaren’s sports car. At over 15 feet, the GT is longer than McLaren’s sports cars but, with just over four inches between the body and the road, it’s also a little higher so that it won’t easily scrape over speed bumps or bad roads. It also has a “lift” mode that can temporarily raise the car up to a level comparable to an ordinary sedan.
The brakes are designed to offer quick stopping at high speeds, but also require less leg strength in stop-and-go traffic, which can be a workout in McLaren’s other cars.
The first cars will be delivered to customers at the end of this year.