Superlight Grand Touring the McLaren Way
“To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one’s ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone.” ― Bruce McLaren
The McLaren Way is oft quoted and was the guiding principle to many years of former world beating glory. The current failure at Formula 1 Grand Prix Racing aside, their road cars still attract the cognescenti, who usually are not phased by reliability and servicing issues.
The new McLaren GT is conceptualised as a classic Grand Tourer but with competition levels of performance being lighter, faster and more responsive; hence, “Superlight Grand Touring”. It’s the first true McLaren Grand Tourer joining existing Sports, Super and Ultimate Series in the McLaren catalogue. Sharing design elements of the McLaren Speedtail, the new McLaren GT has a lightweight body filled with luxurious materials and technology for class-leading refinement and ride comfort.
On the new GT, McLaren designers emphasised the width and stance with the signature ‘hammerhead line’ that runs horizontally across the nose and draws the eye out to the sides of the vehicle.
Perhaps the most evocative aspect of the new GT are the muscular rear fenders – a design trait common through Grand Touring history. On the new GT, they exemplify the ‘McLaren Way’ of form being true to function, by incorporating air intakes for the high-temperature radiators to cool the engine. At the rear, an integrated fixed rear wing, large diffuser and substantial exhaust tailpipes hint at the supercar performance of this Grand Tourer.
“The new McLaren GT combines competition levels of performance with continent-crossing capability, wrapped in a beautiful body and true to McLaren’s ethos of designing superlight cars with a clear weight advantage over rivals. Designed for distance, it provides the comfort and space expected of a Grand Tourer, but with a level of agility never experienced before in this segment. In short, this is a car that redefines the notion of a Grand Tourer in a way that only a McLaren could.” – Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive
The new GT has a carbon fibre structure like all road going McLarens for the lightest-in-class kerbweight of 1,530kg (DIN), more than 130kg lighter than its closest competitor and hundreds of kilogrammes less than other cars in the segment. The 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine pushes 620 PS giving a power-to-weight ratio of 405PS-per-tonne. Torque of 630Nm is produced between 5,500rpm and 6,500rpm, with more than 95% of this available from 3,000rpm to 7,250rpm.
The 7-speed SSG transmission delivers linear, seamless and relentless acceleration. With launch control engaged, acceleration times from a standing start are: 0-100km/h (0-62mph) in 3.2 seconds (0-60mph in 3.1 seconds), 0-200km/h (0-124mph) in 9.0 seconds. The maximum speed of the McLaren GT is 326km/h (203mph).
Space with Pace
Engineering enthusiasts will appreciate the MonoCell II-T monocoque – the T signifies ‘Touring’ – using a carbon fibre rear upper structure that allows the 420-litre luggage area below the front-hinged, full-length glazed tailgate. The load-bearing strength of the carbon fibre core structure allows glazed C-pillars and rear-quarter windows so the designers could use the design they wanted with enhanced rear vision and more light into the cabin. Dihedral doors swing upwards to reveal a wide opening and low sill.
By using an engine of low height and clever routing of the exhaust system, McLaren achieved optimisation of the shape, volume, and usability of the luggage bay. That crucial golf bag or two pairs of 185cm skis and boots as well as luggage can be loaded easily, while a further 150 litres of storage at the front means the new McLaren GT is endowed by a surprising total stowage capacity of 570 litres. Let’s face it, golf clubs are important to this demographic. The objective was to capture the new customer.
McLaren has not skimped on the cabin comfort just because the new GT is a driver’s car. In fact, the ‘office’ is designed for focused, high performance driving; seat position, control ergonomics and forward visibility are optimised in a plush space for longer journeys. The electrically adjusted and heated seats give perfect shoulder and back support with superb lateral control. The standard Nappa leather trim can be upgraded to luxury leather or Alcantara®, depending on vehicle specification. For the nostalgic, cashmere will become available at the end of 2019 – the first time that the material will be used in a production vehicle.
In the rear luggage bay, you can specify SuperFabric® woven fabric infused with a layer of tiny armoured guard plates, for more resistance against abrasions, cuts, nicks and stains, as well as being breathable, easy to clean and quick to dry.
The new ‘infotainment’ system is the most sophisticated to date used by McLaren with latest HERE® navigation mapping and real-time traffic information. The seven-inch central touchscreen allows a graphic user interface like a smartphone to control satellite navigation, Bluetooth telephony, media streaming and voice activation. DAB digital radio (or Sirius satellite radio in North America) is standard. Dual-zone climate control and ventilation controls are incorporated into the touchscreen for ease and reduced switches. Whatever switchgear is present – including steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles – is machined and knurled aluminium to contrast with gloss black surrounds for the infotainment screen, window switches, gear-selection console and air vent housings.
There is hidden-until-lit ambient lighting and the option of an electrochromic glazed panel, that darkens or lightens at the touch of a button, instead of the standard carbon fibre composite gloss black roof. You can specify a 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system featuring carbon fibre sub-bass woofers and Kevlar mid-range drive units.
Suspension Lifts and Optimal Control Theory
The new Proactive Damping Control suspension system provides surprising levels of comfort and combines with hydraulic steering system to deliver renowned McLaren driving dynamics. Braking and steering at lower speeds are optimised for everyday ease of use. Ride height and ground clearances were engineered for urban usability.
At almost 4.7m, the new McLaren is longer than any of McLaren Sports or Super Series. The front and rear overhangs extend further than is traditional for McLaren, but the 10-degree approach angle at the front (13-degree with vehicle lift engaged) means the new McLaren GT can cope with the most aggressive “Sleeping Policemen” or traffic calming measures. In combination with underbody clearance of 110mm (130mm with vehicle lift), this ensures the car can be used in urban situations.
An updated version of the Optimal Control Theory software algorithm allows sensor “readings” of the road, calculating what will likely happen next and suspension reacting predictively in just two milliseconds. There are three active dynamics handling modes – Comfort, Sport and Track – each with a distinct set of parameters. Driving precision and enjoyment is further enhanced by hydraulic steering. At low speeds, the hydraulic steering provides increased assistance for urban driving and parking, without loss of feedback at higher speeds.
VIDEO: New McLaren GT
The new McLaren GT is available to order now from McLaren retailers worldwide, with customer deliveries expected from the end of 2019.
Pricing starts at £163,000 or $210,000 plus taxes depending on your location.
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Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web magazine. He was former CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).