McLaren decided a while back that it wanted to increase sales by offering a more affordable sports car.
It worked – at least for people who think a base price of $200,000 is affordable. The addition of the 570 “sports” series to its 670 “super” series and P1 “ultimate” series vehicles doubled McLaren sales in a single year.
Of 1,100 cars sold in North America in 2016, the company said, about 700 were from the sports series.
The new addition to that family is the 570GT. Basically a carbon fiber tub with a massive engine and very sticky tires, it’s a delightful daily driver – for someone who needs to commute in a vehicle that can go zero to 60 in under 3.4 seconds and hit a top speed of 204 miles per hour.
The folks at McLaren said the 570GT and its sibling 570S are intended for someone who might be shopping for an Audi R8, Porsche 911 Turbo or Lamborghini Huracan, someone looking for an extremely demanding daily driver or a very amusing weekend car.
Those folks are well-heeled. The base price for the 570GT is $201,450. With an upgraded Bowers & Wilkins sound system, special paint and interior details, and other amenities, the one I drove bore an MSRP of $210,290.
That’s a lot, but not for a McLaren. The Super Series cars go for as much as $100,000 more than the Sports Series ones. And the Ultimate Series cars cost more than $1 million.
The 570GT is a delectable car, shapely in design and wicked fast. From the dihedral doors that swing open to reveal the buttery leather interior to the growling twin-turbo 3.8-liter engine, it’s a very intentional vehicle, designed to weigh little, go fast and handle well.
It does. In fact, it holds the road like a gecko on glass. The extremely responsive engine is matched by equally responsive braking and suspension.
The crisp 7-speed gear box was so well tuned in automatic mode that the “manual” paddle shifters felt superfluous – fun, but not likely to do a better job than the automatic.
Selecting modes initiates changes in torque, shift points, engine sound and suspension settings. It’s snappy in “normal” driving mode, super sporty in “sport” mode and positively dangerous in “track” mode, which really is best left for the track.
That may also be true for removing the traction control or engaging the launch control.
Sport and track suspension modes expose every wrinkle in the road, which is excellent for the track but not so much fun on your average city street.
Unlike some sports cars, the 570GT includes a hydraulic system that will raise and lower the nose for navigating driveways, which is very welcome around town.
The car made a better driver of me than I am. But no matter how hard I pushed the McLaren, it seemed to be saying, “I can go a lot faster than this, you know.”
McLaren may call it a GT, but most drivers won’t be doing much grand touring in it. The rear-mounted engine means no trunk in back, though a glass hatch opens to reveal a “touring deck” storage space on top of the engine compartment.
And that’s as close to the engine as you can get: Except for the oil dipstick, that turbocharged V-8 is heard but never seen, and accessible only to a mechanic.
There is also a “frunk” trunk space up front, but it won’t accommodate anything much larger than a carry-on bag. (McLaren makes specially designed luggage to maximize use of that touring deck.)
There’s also not much room behind the seats.
Maybe I was dazzled by the performance, and rendered less astute than I normally am, but I was confounded by the overwhelming complicated infotainment system and seat adjustments, which are manipulated via switches and buttons that are hidden from sight and difficult to reach.
The thin seats were surprisingly comfortable, and the tiny screen for the back-up camera made maneuvering the little car much easier. And I liked that fact that the driver icon, on the climate control system, was wearing a helmet, as if he was off to a day at the races.
McLaren is selling 570s faster than it can make them. A company representative said there is currently a five- to six-month waiting list for a new 570GT, and hinted that a Spider version of the 570 could be arriving later this year.