Driving the McLaren 570GT: A tourer masquerading as pure art

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 September, 2016, 9:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 September, 2016, 10:30pm

You know those buxom bikini babes who flesh out the sales push at motor shows? Well, their employment prospects are newly diminished, at least in the supercar segment.

This car has the curves. This car has the legs. This car will make your jaw plummet and your head whirr as it sashays by. This little beauty could win Miss Universe all on its own. This is the McLaren 570GT.

This is the Caravaggio of cars; the Van Gogh of vehicles. And I assure you – I’m not talking Pollocks.

If it is a work of art though, it is not just mute canvas but also an installation and performance piece. Bruce Springsteen was unfairly maligned by indie rock band Prefab Sprout for singing about cars and girls, but he could justifiably fill an entire double album serenading the 570GT.

The 570GT will give you 100km for 14.7 litres of petrol in town and 10.2 litres on the motorway

Like every good significant other, this car demands respect and attention and will hurt you if it does not feel like it is being shown sufficient deference. That is because it will move you from inert to 100km/h in 3.2 seconds, without giving your stomach the opportunity to catch up. It will carry on moving you up to a speed of 328km/h and subject you to what feels like astronaut-level G-forces as it propels you through corners. It can do this because its twin-turbocharged, 3.8-litre V8 engine produces 562 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 600 Newton metres of torque at 5,000 rpm.

In more straightforward parlance, the 570GT is a mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive, two-seater coupé. It’s also a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic with manual gear-changing mode – which as usual is where the real fun comes in.

The latest McLaren supercar and most recently inducted member of the McLaren Sports Series, it is, the company claims, its most luxurious model to date. And sitting in instant comfort, springy carpet underfoot and surrounded by leather-trimmed everything else, it is difficult to disagree.

McLaren has also come up with an ingenious means of increasing stowage space, which, under the bonnet, is already a reasonable 150 litres. Behind the seats lies a leather prairie that adds another 220 litres and can accommodate a couple of small suitcases without complaint.

This zone (officially, the “touring deck”) is accessible from the kerb because the entire glass panel – the central rear window – above it is hinged, meaning no clambering across seat backs or awkward, spine-scrunching swivelling in one’s seat while loading and unloading: clever, plus it backs up McLaren’s claim that the 570GT is, as well as everything else, a tourer. But not necessarily one from which you can see much from your rear-view mirror if you pile too many Tod’s store bags on that deck.

The company would also like you to think of the 570GT as a sort of “everyday supercar” – you know, the kind of HK$3.4 million shopping trolley you can trundle down to the Wellcome supermarket. At the same time, however, the subliminal message is that the expensive bit of kit in which you are riding is a direct descendant of the McLaren Formula One stable. Nor is that a misleading message, because in aggressive Race mode it is no strained flight of fancy to picture yourself hurtling round a track, the growling 570GT exerting grip like Spider-Man with acrophobia.

In 1995, former Formula One world champion Nigel Mansell made a comeback of sorts when, after the obligatory motorsport seat-shuffling and contractual shenanigans, he joined McLaren. Famously, the over-generously proportioned Mansell ended up with a bum deal, allegedly being too fat to sit in the car’s monocoque. But while no gymnast, he would have no such trouble with the surprisingly spacious carbon-fibre-sculpted monocoque of the 570GT, although modest ingress and egress over the low-slung sills do require practice, particularly of ladies in finery.

Shopping and nightclub runs aside, the space, and the light from the panoramic glass roof, do indeed attune the car to the demands of the longer drive. The interior is uncluttered and the dashboard – including, mercifully, the de rigueur computer screen – unfussy, reminding you that you are here to drive, not yak on the phone or squawk along to some pop-chart drivel. And anyway, a perfect driving position and excellent visibility from the almost wraparound windscreen (if not the tiny mid-body windows) allow no excuses for failing to concentrate on the enterprise at hand.

The 570GT will give you 100km for 14.7 litres of petrol in town and 10.2 litres on the motorway, not that you will care too much about that if you can afford one in the first place. And if you do take it to Wellcome, watch out in the car park: its dihedral doors swing outwards as well as upwards, requiring a spacious berth to avoid dings and scratches.

That’s if you really feel the need to leave it in anything as common as a car park. Just station it on your driveway with the doors up if you want to frighten the neighbours at Halloween, because then it looks like Batman ready to pounce on a villain.

Supercar? Superhero.