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McLaren wants to “broaden the appeal” of its cars, so it is making many variations of its superb two-seater super sports car formula. The most recent manifestation of this democratization of the brand is the 570GT. First of all, it’s the least expensive McLaren at a bargain basement (ha!) $201,450. Then, numerous refinements make it the most comfortable model in the line to drive.

The GT in the name stands for Gran Turismo (which does not refer to the video game). As you’ll recall from high school Italian class, Gran Turismo is Italian for “cruising comfortably while looking oh-so-cool doing it.” It probably also means “…with more luggage space.” The basic carbon fiber tub from the Super Series 650S and 675LT has been slightly modified in this car, with a lower doorsill height for easier ingress and egress. From the B-pillars rearward, the aluminum body of the 570GT is all new, with less-pronounced fender rises and a slightly taller rear wing.

The most noticeable feature of that new back half is the new glass hatch, which looks like it was plucked off an E-Type Jag. It swings up on side hinges, opening either left or right, depending on whether your McLaren is left- or right-hand drive (it always opens to the sidewalk side of the parked car). Underneath the hatch is 7.8 cubic feet of luggage space, a little more than the 570S675LT, and all the other variations on this very fast theme. The rear-hatch storage space of our 570GT test car came with leather tie-down straps to hold a picnic basket in place during cornering. Maybe you could get a garmet bag back there. But don’t plan on going golfing … not that you golf. Room in the front trunk remains 5.3 cubic feet. Above the two occupants is a permanent panoramic roof with 18 percent tint. There are even soft-close door latches that gently pull the doors in on their last couple degrees of travel.  

The powertrain is unchanged from its siblings: the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 still sends 562 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a seven-speed paddle-shifted dual-clutch transmission that McLaren calls an SSG, for Sequential Shift Gearbox. With a wet curb weight of 3,198 pounds, it’s all good for a 0-60 time of 3.1 seconds and a top speed of 204 mph. Crikey.

The comfort changes between this and the 570S include: a steering ratio reduced by 2 percent, spring rates reduced 15 percent in front and 10 percent rear; and Pirelli P Zero PSNC (Pirelli Noise Cancelling) tires that combine with wheel-well insulation and a few other touring tweaks to make the 570GT quieter underway.  

McLaren 570GT hatch

The McLaren 570GT’s hatch opens away from the street towards the sidewalk.

What’s it like to drive?

We drove the 570GT on the twisting mountain roads that snake up the sides of the island of Tenerife, a spigot of dried lava poking 12,000 feet out of the Atlantic Ocean 300 miles west of Africa. New pavement on the road made the ride smooth and the grip superb. We set the 570GT to track mode (quicker shifts, faster throttle response and a more lax ESC) and began picking off and passing the scads of low-budget VW Golfs and Seat Ibizas rented by the world’s slowest and most oblivious tourists. It became like a video game: Target acquired? Fire! And the paddle-shifted seven-speed transmission went down a couple gears, the engine roared a muffled roar and pzow, we were by.

The feel behind the wheel is not unlike that of the slightly sportier 570S, and buyers seeking that car’s handling will not be disappointed. We may be partial to the even-better-handling Super Series 650S or 675LT, with their more responsive suspension setups, but the McLaren family genetics are unmistakable. The best thing about this and any other “Sports” or “Super Series” McLaren is the electrically assisted hydraulic steering, which feels better-connected to the road than just about anything we’ve ever driven. The steering alone would be worth the price of admission, but the linear and smooth power from the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8, coupled with the quick-shifting seven-speed are right up there, too. It’s an engineering marvel that makes you glad to be alive in this age of technological progress, before robotic, autonomous drone cars designed by fun-sucking insurance companies ruin our lives.

A couple things did stand in the way of a full two-thumbs up rating, though: First, you have to really want that panoramic roof. Maybe you like the sunshine. Many buyers do. For us, and maybe we’re weird, it became a bit oppressive, a solar-science experiment of greenhouse gain after only a short while under the hot Atlantic sun. There are buyers who love those things and they will be happy as fried clams under this one, but AW staff opinion, as well as general opinion on glass roofs, is mixed. The previous Porsche glass-top Targa was less oppressive, for instance. The fact that there’s no shade that can be pulled over it (even an Audi A3 has a shade, fer goodness sake) means you have to want sun the whole time you drive. We’d probably drive it at night. Second, the power-adjustable seats do the job for most human bodies but, as with other McLarens, we kept wanting more recline and seat tilt than offered here. But that’s the same with the other McLaren models in this family, and only a minor whine. 

McLaren 570GT rear hatch

Look at all that glass!

Do I want it?

Is it as satisfying behind the wheel as other “Sports Series” McLarens? Yes, if in a slightly more civilized manner. The 570GT is an attempt to make the Sports Series more useful and less brutal, though those differences are barely incremental. Even the 650S and 675LT aren’t beating you up. If we were to buy one, we’d get the 650S, but that costs a lot more.

Would we pick those McLarens over the Ferrari 488GTB? Tough choice, that. How about a Porsche 911? You could get any one of those for less than the sticker price of the 570GT. Even the 911 GT3 RS is only a shade over $175,000 and the 911 R is ten grand more than that. The 911 Turbo S is the closest match and still costs about $20,000 less. Not that anyone in this corner of the market is looking to save money. Maybe we’d go with the McLaren. Unless we were to buy all three.

Yes, that’d be the best solution. Buy all three. Then call us and we’ll go for a drive.

On Sale: August

Base Price: $201,450

Drivetrain: 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8, seven-speed SSG dual-clutch transmission, rwd

Output: 562 hp at 7500 rpm, 443 lb ft at 5000-6500 rpm

Curb Weight: 3198 pounds

0-60 MPH: 3.1 seconds (mfg.)

Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)

Pros: Very fast and highly cool

Cons: Not quite as lithe as the 650S, which is a class up