As McLaren is a relatively new brand in the automotive kingdom with a line-up expanding faster than we can process the newly minted models, it might be pertinent to remind ourselves that the 570GT is just the baby of the family. At the top of McLaren’s totem pole resides the limited-edition, all-conquering 916hp P1 hyper-hybrid car. One rung down from the Ultimate Series, we find the Super Series consisting of the 675hp 675LT and the 650hp 650S. It is clear that McLaren has decided to name its cars using the power of the engines and this is true of its “entry level” Sport Series 570S and now, the 570GT.
While we had a veritable smorgasbord of McLarens at our disposal with the 675LT and the 650S being simply sensational on the racetrack of the Sepang International Circuit, it was genuinely difficult to just focus on the 570 twins. More precisely, to ascertain how well the new GT version of the 570 stacks up against the 570S. The 570S we drove last year at Portugal’s Portimao racetrack is a sharp, sporty no-compromise supercar, so McLaren has decided that the 570GT needs to be a more practical daily rated supercar by giving it better refinement and more storage room inside.
Not that McLaren has made it big enough for a pair of rear seats but closer inspection reveals more cabin space compared to the 570S (220L vs 130L) that has been carved out by removing the flying buttress feature and allowing the cabin to merge outwards into the C-pillar. To access this new space, the designers created a unique lift-open rear windscreen. This sacrifices some aerodynamic downforce but that is less important in the Sport Series of McLarens. To mitigate the loss of downforce, the rear spoiler has been made 10mm taller than that fitted to the 570S.
McLaren has been an early adopter of total carbon-fibre cars, thanks to its involvement in Formula One. Of course, the rest of the supercar manufacturers have begun to embrace it, so to up its game, McLaren is introducing it to “affordable” models such as the 560S and 570GT.
The 570S and 570GT use the MonoCell II, a modified version of the carbon-fibre tub that is largely similar to the 650S and 675LT. It features lower side sills that has added weight equivalent to five bottles of wine to the chassis of the 570GT, but the lower sills do really manage to address the oft-heard complaint of ingress and egress to these supercars.
All told, the weight of the 570GT has increased by 35kg to 1,350kg, much of it accounted for by the large panoramic glass roof, and plusher leather-wrapped interior with significantly more soundproofing. McLaren claims the added weight slows the 570GT by two-tenths of a second reaching 100km/h in 3.4sec instead of 3.2sec, but any sub-4sec sprint is still seriously fast in anybody’s books.
The 570GT is fitted with the McLaren-developed 3.8L twin turbo V8 engine, which is shared with the 570S Coupé. Power and torque remain at 570hp and 600Nm, respectively and that is delivered to the rear wheels via a seven-speed SSG (seamless-shift gearbox). There are settings for Normal, Sport and Track to deliver the proper engine and transmission performance to suit the situation. The item with the most profound effect on the handling and performance of the car is the set of tyres, and the 570GT gets the new generation Pirelli P Zero street tyres instead of the circuit biased Corsa tyres. Top speed remains at a hugely impressive 328km/h.
McLaren pioneered the use of the unique interlinked suspension that made the 675LT and the 650S so brilliant in terms of ride and handling. However, being one rung down the pecking order, the Sports Series is like all the other manufacturers employing a more conventional independent coilover-type suspension. For the 570S, the idea was to benchmark the same sharp handling as the 650S but using a conventional coilover suspension meant stiffer springs and dampers, resulting in a small ride penalty. The 570GT brings back the ride fluency of the 650S but sacrifices the incisive handling. In terms of hardware, it gets a 10 per cent slower steering rack, 15 per cent softer front springs and 10 per cent softer rear springs.
These changes have allowed the 570GT to behave in a less aggressive manner but on the circuit, it does not feel much different than the 570S. Only at the limit does one notice that the 570GT has fewer tendencies to oversteer and is more tolerant to throttle changes.
On a perfectly driven lap, it might be slower but is easier to drive to the limit and handles in a more progressive fashion. As the softer springs reduce abrupt weight transfer, it is easier to keep to the chosen line. The progressive handling characteristics of the new generation Pirelli P Zeros help make the 570GT more forgiving compared to the grippy Corsas of the 570S. It turns out that by removing the razor-sharp steering and softening up the suspension, McLaren has not made an inferior car but a user-friendlier one.
Compared to the mighty 650S, the 570GT is 80hp down on power but as it is lighter, the deficit is not as great as one might expect. Far more noticeable is the reduction in mechanical grip at high-speed because the 570GT was designed with much less aerodynamic downforce compared to either the 650S or 675LT. This allows the 570GT to display deft handling wrought by the suspension set-up alone and not dominated by aerodynamic downforce. If one simply must have the fastest McLaren, then just get the 675LT, but for us the 570GT gives us all the fun we will need.
The 570GT is easier to live with thanks to the added soundproofing, less pointy steering and progressive handling, thanks to the hardware changes. However, do not assume the 570GT delivers a watered‑down experience because at its core is still a McLaren with supercar levels of handling and performance. From the track outing at Sepang, the 570GT proves it is easier to drive to the limit and asks less of you when keeping it at the ragged edge through a hot lap. The steering is wonderfully communicative and the chassis better resolved with the new spring and damper rates. Though McLaren touts the 570GT as the softer one, it might well be the better one.
As the McLaren P1 and its racing twin, the P1 GTR, are limited in numbers and already sold out, the only other possibility to savour the superb track performance is through the 675LT. To reach the 675LT’s considerable limits, one must transcend one’s own limits, as this is no ordinary supercar. First, there is the special interlinked suspension that delivers more poise and grip than a conventionally suspended supercar. However, one has to push past the known limits to find the extra grip and performance.
Next, there is the active aerodynamics that delivers even more grip in the corners but that requires you not to slow down for a corner but go even faster. When one is slowing from high-speed the deceleration limit exponentially diminishes as the airflow slows with the car speed. To be able to reach the promised land, one has to cross not just uncharted waters but go beyond intuitive driving into a zone where everything is somewhat counter‑intuitive. This is a steep learning process and to get the best you will need the guidance of the McLaren Circuit Driving instructors but once you have tasted the 675LT, you will find your senses forever altered.