By Larry Lark, contributor
I’m not sure words can do the 2021 McLaren GT justice.
But given the privilege of a four-day, 300-mile test drive, I’ll give it my best shot.
For the uninitiated, McLaren is manufactured in southern England in extremely limited quantities and is available by order. McLaren, which races Formula One, is primarily owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain’s royal family.
Everything starts and ends with the rear, mid-mounted DOHC V8, 4.0-liter all-aluminum, twin-turbocharged engine. The engine is mated to a seven-speed, McLaren dual clutch, seamless-shift, automatic transmission.
The combination generates 612 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque on a broad, flat curve to ensure seamless, relentless, acceleration. Like 0-to-60 miles per hour in under three-seconds, 0-to-124 miles per hour in nine-seconds, and a top speed of 203 miles per hour. With exhaust notes that are equally tantalizing.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The new McLaren GT is a Grand Tourer equally at ease cruising at low speeds through urban environments as it is providing exhilarating enjoyment on the open road. The driver can accentuate these characteristics via the active dynamics panel, with a choice of Comfort, Sport and Track powertrain modes selectable according to preference.
McLaren has a range of 325 miles, and averaged less than the 18 miles per gallon advertised thanks in part to my lack of self control.
Part of the magic is created by an aerodynamic, carbon fiber structure and aluminum body panels which underpin a segment-leading light weight and outstanding dynamic agility. And as far as exterior’s go, the McLaren GT is a showstopper.
While a bit superfluous, I’ll let the words of CEO Mike Flewitt describe:
“The new GT combines McLaren’s design philosophies with classic Grand Tourer visual cues. Bold, elegant volumes flow seamlessly from nose to tail, encapsulating the beautifully crafted cabin. The sophisticated, sculpted body expresses both the power of the car and its ability to cosset occupants during long-distance driving.
The teardrop shape of the cabin, which stretches back to encompass the rear luggage area, follows the aerodynamic principles inherent in all McLarens, while the muscular rear fenders that form the side intakes for the high-temperature radiators are an example of how we merge both beauty and functionality to create breath-taking authentic designs.”
McLaren had me a butterfly doors. The two-seater’s doors open up, and slightly out. The front serves as a small storage compartment for overnight luggage, and the rear door opens to supply limited storage space, enough for a full-size golf bag.
To say the McLaren has a low center of gravity is an understatement. You fall into the comfortable, well-supported, Nappa leather bucket seats and prepare to take corners at twice the recommended speed. Probably more, but I was trying to drive the McLaren conservatively.
On a short jaunt to Bellingham I briefly goosed the engine to 130, but quickly lost my nerve and backed off. Cell phones were spotted sticking out the driver doors of multiple cars, shooting photos or video – I guess for reference?
The suspension, steering and brakes are all bespoke and optimized to provide an outstanding Grand Touring driving experience, with inherent balance, responsiveness and precision complemented by
superior ride comfort.
Even the sunroof has a wow factor. The electrochromic panoramic roof enhances the sense of space and refinement in the already light and airy McLaren GT cabin. The glass panels feature an interlayer to absorb solar radiation and provide additional noise suppression for increased comfort and refinement.
It feels sacrosanct to even talk about creature comforts on the McLaren, but just two include an all-new touchscreen infotainment screen with super-quick 10-core processor, navigation and real-time traffic information. The other is a Bowers & Wilkins 12-speaker, 1,200-watt premium sound system.
Base Price: $218,695
Price As Driven: $241,025
Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at your local dealership.