When one looks at a McLaren offering, chances are good that track-ready performance and Ferrari slaying styling will immediately leap out into mind. While the British supercar maker has primarily delivered the goods, for the most part, the firm also knows that it needs to expand its reach to appeal to a broader range of buyers. The recently unveiled Artura was McLaren’s first leap into the green vehicle market, and for GT buyers, the company has unleashed the all-new McLaren GT, but is it finally the perfect balance of supercar daring and GT elegance?
Exterior Styling Looks Slick
The exterior styling of our tester certainly drew plenty of stares when it had the chance to slink its way through town. Unlike the cluttered and awkward 570GT that we drove in New York state a few years ago, the now numberless GT’s suit of clothes presents a look that’s more uniform while still baking in enough aggression to drive home the point that this isn’t your grandpa’s Jaguar XK. The headlights are sleek and narrow, but they still work with the front grille and the lower intakes to produce a distinct look.
The side profile features McLaren’s trademark butterfly-style doors, but unlike the 720S, the GT forces buyers to move a small panel that will allow you to open the door from the outside. For owners that wear alot of jewelry or those with large fingers, look for this panel to be a potential scratch magnet in long-term use. The rear of the McLaren is focused on aerodynamics, and we like how the taillights melt into the rear styling. The GT also comes with a sweet-looking dual-exhaust system that helps add a potent exclamation point to the GT’s stylish ambitions.
While the GT is not as extreme looking as the 720S, that’s fine with us since it allows the car to have a calmer character while infusing enough sporty cues to keep it from looking like it has gone soft. We recommend going for the optional gloss black 15-spoke forged wheels since they enhance the look of specific colors, including the reptilian-inspired Serpentine Green that adorned our car.
Interior Missed The Memo
Slip inside the GT, and you might be confused at how this is exactly a grand touring car? A vital trait of any GT car is that it must have four seats, but the McLaren GT only has two seats, so any passengers looking to join in the fun get to draw straws to find out who gets to sit in the front passenger seat. The thrones themselves are very comfortable, and they are very commendable places to spend time in. As with other exotic cars, entry and exit is a yoga/gymnastics-infused exercise, but we eventually found a rhythm during our brief time with the McLaren. The rest of the cabin is awash in high-quality materials, including warm leather accents and even light splashes of Alcantara trim. The seats are purely for the act of giving world-class support in the twisties, and as a result, things such as massaging and cooled seats are not on the menu (the seats do offer seat heat.)
The controls and switchgear are straightforward for the most part, but first-timers to the McLaren experience will have to remember to push the “Active” button first to formally go through the car’s various drive modes. The Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system delivered sublime tunes. Still, even this potent setup was drowned out by the sweet symphony of noises that emanated from the mid-mounted 4.0 liter V8 (more on that later.)
The infotainment system is still prone to sun glare, but the optional panoramic sunroof has an electro-chromatic equipped cover that helped reduce the number of times the screen was washed out by glare. The rear cargo area is oddly shaped, but it can swallow an impressive amount of stuff (including a set of McLaren sourced luggage designed just for the GT.) However, the space also suffers from a tremendous amount of heat soak, so grocery runs that involve chilly items like milk, ice cream, and butter are best left to the frunk for formal transport back home. The rear hatch also has lousy rain protection, and there were occasions were splashes of rain dripped into the cargo floor when the rear hatch was opened.
These quirks will undoubtedly stand out when the McLaren goes up against more traditional GT rivals like the Aston Martin DB11, Bentley Continental GT, and even the Ferrari Rom with the Aston and the Bentley, in particular, being more in tune with the core essentials of what a GT car should be.
Track Focused Performance For Any Occasion
While the McLaren GT walks a fine line in other aspects of the GT experience, the one area where our tester managed to hit the figurative bullseye when it came to performance. Like other McLarens, our example is powered by the familiar 4.0 liter twin-turbocharged V8, good for 612 hp. It has a noticeable amount of turbo lag, but look past that brief pause, and the engine wakes up when it’s tasked with launching the GT to 60 mph with the company claiming that it can do the deed in 2.9 seconds before hitting a final top speed of 200 mph.
The engine delivered plenty of passing power when driven on the freeway, and it even managed to be a refined choice when we tasked the GT with making its way through city driving. The suspension of the GT is on the firm side of comfort, but it’s not jarring, and the GT morphs into a surprisingly pleasant choice for everyday commuting. The steering and brakes were also very responsive. They did a good job communicating what the front wheels were doing to the driver while also providing stability and smooth stops from a wide variety of speeds.
On the flip side, our commute also revealed some of the missing driver assistance technology that other GT offerings bring to their clientele. Adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, and blind-spot monitoring are all unavailable on the GT. While we suspect part of this is due to some of the weight that the sensors would add to the car, it also causes the McLaren GT to fall short of rivals when it comes to offering maximum amounts of technology for the dollar.
Pricing for the 2021 McLaren GT (2022 models arrive with no changes) starts at $200,000, with our lightly optioned tester having a final sticker of $217,155. This pricing puts it right on target with rivals like the Aston Martin DB11, and it even manages to undercut a base Ferrari Roma by a noticeable amount. That allows the GT to be on the bargain side of GT luxury, which might please buyers looking for a luxury-filled experience that won’t break the bank too much.
At the same time, the 2021 McLaren GT also takes a very distinct approach to luxury, and some of the quirks that come with the McLaren GT experience may not resonate so well with buyers that expect maximum amounts of technology to go along with their $200k investment. However, if you’re a buyer that wants something different in your GT experience and you’re willing to tolerate some of the unique demands that the McLaren places, then the 2021 McLaren GT will be your perfect cup of luxury-lined tea.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.