There’s a reason the term “everyday driver sports car” exists. That’s because purpose-built, high-performance cars typically suffer from an inherent lack of usability: they’re noisy, uncomfortable, and require impeccable driving conditions. Also, they often lack the accessories that we’ve become accustomed to and when they’re included, they’re usually below par.
That might sound like small concessions for the chance to drive a top-of-the-line vehicle, but try spending more than $200,000 on a car that makes you miserable half the time. Thanks to improvements in technology and manufacturing, the line between sport and luxury is blurring more than ever.
Making fun cars more accessible is a good thing, but they should at least feel different than your daily commute. Few modern day sports cars stand out as well as McLaren Automotive’s, so much so that I was a little concerned that their latest vehicle, the McLaren GT, would lose these distinctive attributes as the car was made more comfortable. While some rough edges have been smoothed out, for better or for worse, the luxury overhaul has been overdone, but the signature McLaren charm remains.
screws and nuts
The McLaren GT is a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive two-seater that functions as the entry-level model from McLaren Automotive. It’s powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, a variant of the engine found in other models across the range with smaller turbochargers. This iteration lowers overall power but delivers power in the rev band, making peak power more accessible sooner. It produces 612 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, which is sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
With the help of Launch Control, the McLaren GT can sprint from 0 to 60 in 3.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 203 mph.
As with all McLaren cars, the GT is built on a carbon fiber chassis that contributes to its light curb weight of 3,384 pounds. It’s also equipped with electro-hydraulic steering, which greatly contributes to its distinct driving feel. Everything rides on an adaptive damping system and 20-inch front wheels and 21-inch rear wheels.
As a GT, this McLaren is meant for extended drives and as such its defining feature is the 14.8 cubic feet of storage space that sits behind the driver and atop the mid-engine.
It also features an active dynamics panel that allows the driver to customize the car’s behavior, a 1,200-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system and the latest version of McLaren’s bespoke infotainment system. This is the heart of the McLaren GT’s user interface and is housed in a 7-inch touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. In addition to entertainment functions, it can be paired with mobile devices via Bluetooth, offers access to a handful of vehicle settings such as ambient lighting and has HERE-supported satellite navigation.
This screen is supported by a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. Some of the above information is carried over to this screen, e.g. B. Turn-by-turn instructions, although its main function is to provide instant information on vehicle behavior. The typical speedometer and tachometer are of course present, but also tire pressure indicators and other status indicators. Depending on the driving mode, this screen reconfigures itself to better position more important information in a racetrack or in a dynamic environment.
The big mission statement for the McLaren GT is that it’s a better balance between the driving dynamics that McLarens are known for and the creature comforts. Each sports car maker approaches this particular dish with its own recipe, and McLaren Automotive, for its part, places a heavy emphasis on performance and low usability. The McLaren GT is said to be his most accessible car yet, but thankfully the extra dash of refinement doesn’t overwhelm the distinct McLaren umami underneath.
Sliding under the double doors and into the GT reveals a very performance-oriented cockpit. Two ergonomic seats are separated by a very small armrest, and the sparse cabin is dominated by a leather and steel steering wheel flanked by two wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Behind that is the aforementioned 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, accessed via one of the few stalks protruding from the steering column. The 7-inch touchscreen sits above the Active Dynamics panel and Drive Select buttons, while the Bowers & Wilkins speakers stare at you like a hawk’s eye from the doors.
All of this is the first indication that the McLaren GT won’t stray too far from its sports car roots: this cabin is nearly identical to that of the 570S. Of course there are small differences, including additional sound confusion. But you could go from car to car and have a hard time spotting them.
Next is the feeling of how specially built the car feels. All the luxurious details cannot hide the fact that you are sitting in the carbon fiber monobloc of a race-ready vehicle.
The McLaren GT doesn’t make it quiet. Once the twin-turbo V8 kicks in, it’s your soundtrack for the entire drive, Bowers & Wilkins, damn it. From now on, the McLaren GT will require the driver to focus on driving, as none of the half-hearted lollygagging we’re used to in everyday traffic will fly. Steering feedback is ample, the brakes require a very heavy foot and the athletic-looking sports car’s hips obscure much of the rear view.
When galloping, the GT excites with its acceleration and the feel between all the systems working to keep the McLaren on course is palpable. Its electro-hydraulic steering fluidly communicates road surface conditions, and its weight gives the driver something essential to embrace. This combination of systems is more responsive to the all-electronic power steering we’re used to, it’s meatier and heavier, but mechanical, not just with pre-programmed motorized resistance. The same goes for the suspension and active dampers, as you can easily feel the McLaren GT doing its job.
How it performs its task is also determined by the active dynamics settings. Two knobs for handling and performance each have three settings, Normal, Sport and Track. Normal is the most docile setting, keeping the car’s ride as smooth as possible when all the usual driving assists are on and the engine is at its tamest. Sport causes the car’s overall handling to be a bit more aggressive, relaxes some of the stability control and also increases throttle response and the transmission’s affinity for lower gears. The track is the McLaren’s most aggressive setting: Handling? Rigid. traction control? Out of. Engine and gears? uninhibited.
One of the McLaren GT’s most wonderful attributes, and indeed one it shares with its super sibling, the 570S, is there is very little electronic handholding. This lack of a computerized safety net requires a higher application of driver skill and therefore makes crisp maneuvers very rewarding, just as it makes slip-ups nerve-wracking. Imagine the experience somewhere between a Lotus Evora and the Audi R8 V10.
Live La Vida Macca
As exciting as it is to live life on the razor’s edge with the McLaren GT, the bits in between succumb to the usual supercar usability. A suite of parking sensors and a reversing camera make positioning the prized GT a whole lot easier, as does a one-button nose lift function which is a huge relief.
This alleviates some of the usual day-to-day sports car frustrations, but the real heart of the GT’s problems lies in the in-car interface.
Because as good as the car is mechanically, its self-developed operating system is a particularly glaring weak point. McLaren knows that. To be honest, it used to be worse.
Powered by a 10-core processor, the ‘Infotainment System II’ is faster and more responsive than the units on previous McLaren cars. Familiar swiping and pinch-and-zoom functions make using the touchpad easy, although finding the menu you want is another matter. Most of the time, it requires a co-pilot on the passenger side to give him the attention he needs, or the driver pulling off the road to sort things out. This could be as simple as trying to select a music input source, but it’s most frustrating when it comes to navigation.
Despite the upgrade, the built-in system still feels far less intuitive and constrained by current standards. Enter the address and if it finds it, there are limited routes to choose from if there are alternatives. If you deviate from the route, it will persistently insist that you find your way back long before it decides to reroute itself. There have also been instances of inaccurate road data thrown our way, directing us to turn onto roads that didn’t exist, or sometimes didn’t recognize that existed.
Since the GT is neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto compatible, drivers are unlucky with alternative navigation systems such as Google Maps or Waze. In fact, the heavily bordered touchscreen’s size and orientation mirror that of a smartphone, and there were many times we wished we could just suck our own phone over it just to find our way home.
That doesn’t bode well for a car meant for long road trips, and the 14.8 cubic feet of storage doesn’t work as intended either. The extra space that sits on top of the motor means anything placed over it will be exposed to a lot of heat. It’s great for a few pairs of skis, but not as good for cargo as electronics.
The McLaren GT is a true sports car and nothing about its down-tuning or soft trim changes that. In fact, it’s debatable whether they don’t go far enough to make this car significantly different from others in the lineup, or to live up to its Grand Tourer moniker. That’s certainly the case when it comes to its technology.
McLaren could have kept everything mechanically identical to its sibling cars, and the GT could have stood out with a more robust, user-friendly, road-driving-focused interface, simpler maps, larger screens for easier access, 360-degree parking cameras, and more modern mobile compatibility , to name just a few features that we would have liked. By the looks of it, the $205,000 McLaren GT is a true entry-level sports car that sticks to the classics.
It delivers the full experience, but technically it’s a fling.
The 2022 McLaren GT is a fresh take on a classic recipe – TechCrunch Source link The 2022 McLaren GT is a fresh take on a classic recipe – TechCrunch