26 September 2023

Real Life With A Mclaren

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By Paul Gover.

Life with a supercar is not always as good as it looks.

How many times do you want to sit at the lights, going quietly about your business, while someone alongside fills the memory on their smartphone with pictures?

And what about the wannabes who crave a drag race from the wheel of their home-built beater?

And then there is the need for somewhere special, most likely a racetrack, to properly exercise a car that will likely crack the 100k/h limit in Australia in first gear.

Once you get past the gee-whizzery of the sights and sounds that dominate any drive in a Lamborghini or Ferrari, well …

They are hard to park. The cabin access is tight and complicated for anyone with a few years on their bones, and they love petrol the way a politician loves a debate.

It’s true that Ferrari and Lamborghini owners, and I’m not remotely qualified, are likely to have something much more mundane in the garage for their daily drive. Perhaps a Bentley …

But there is an antidote to supercar strain.

It’s called the McLaren GT and it’s a daily driver as well as an exotic speed machine.

I have just spent a week with a GT in the UK and I have very few complaints – apart from knowing it will take the thick end of $400,000 to park one in my garage.

It’s not a traditional GT as there is not even a dream of back seats and the luggage space is tight, but it’s a car to enjoy for the long haul.

Yes, it can – and will – crack on at a dramatic pace from a 0-100km/h sprint to 3.2 seconds to a top speed of 326km/h (that’s 203 miles-an-hour) and corners like a white line painted on the road.

But the GT is equally comfortable at a consistent 110km/h cruise, or unwinding down a narrow country lane, with the ability for an occasional blat to clear its cylinders and the driver’s head.

Confessions first, as I have been a McLaren booster since I drove the company’s original supercar, the 12C, soon after its global debut. It helped that McLaren hosted me at Dunsfold Aerodrome, a deserted airfield that’s best known for the Top Gear test track and hot laps by The Stig.

I was captivated by the car’s restrained design, its twin-turbo V8 engine, the brilliant view from the cabin, and a sublime ride that was more like a luxury car than a track-day speedster.

As for the rear seats that are essential for a ‘proper’ GT car, those will have to wait for the upcoming SUV. Yes, after a decade of denials and a focus only on sports and supercars, McLaren is now talking openly about a future family hauler.

But back to the GT, as the first few miles – not kilometres – pass in comfort and calm. The cabin is roomy for a car like this, the seats are supportive, noise levels are commendably low apart from some road roar from the tyres, and the steering wheel – without a single button or knob – is beautifully crafted and comfortable. I would have this wheel, happily, on every car I drive.

Yes, I give it a couple of cracks. And it romps. It’s not as joyously soulful as a Ferrari, or as flat-out outrageous as a Lamborghini, but it also doesn’t attract attention like a Hemsworth doing the shopping at Byron Bay.

And that’s what I like most about the GT.

It’s an everyday car that has comfort and class, with the ability to go as fast as you like – or dare – on a Sunday fun run.

Frustrations? The satnav is worse than the one in a basic Hyundai and there is no CarPlay, the brake pedal is too close to the accelerator for a left-foot braker like me – something I whinged about in the 12C – and access is predictably tough.

But the ride is sublime in all conditions, you can switch – literally – from mumbling to supercar in a couple of seconds, and the styling allows you to drive without attracting too much attention.

Best of all, time with the McLaren GT allows me to re-set the road test bar for the dozens of other cars that follow, because everything needs a standard of excellence to focus the scoring.


McLaren GT

Price: from $399,995

Engine: 4-litre twin-turbo V8

Power: 456kW/630Nm

Transmission: 7-speed seamless shift, rear-wheel drive

Position: long-legged supercar

We like: understated, super-quick, suitable for commuting

Not so much: outdated infotainment, pedal position

THE TICK: every time if you have the cash

Score: 9/10

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