2017 McLaren 570GT review

McLaren's brutally capable 570GT is about as 'entry level' as a battle ax

Most cars must choose between comfort and speed, but McLaren’s 570GT stunningly offers both.
Most cars must choose between comfort and speed, but McLaren’s 570GT stunningly offers both.
Most cars must choose between comfort and speed, but McLaren’s 570GT stunningly offers both.

Highs

  • Thrilling acceleration
  • Endless grip
  • Streamlined, exotic looks
  • Fantastic ride
  • Surprising practicality

Lows

  • Slow touchscreen
  • Muzzled exhaust

Let’s be honest, the term “practical supercar” makes about as much sense as a screen door on a submarine. A supercar is by definition an extreme being, one designed to be focused, unforgiving, and bold. But perhaps this is an outdated way of thinking. Modern supercars often toe the line between luxury car and performance car, using tech like adaptive suspensions and configurable driving modes to transform their characters. Few are actually practical though, which is why McLaren’s 570GT caught my eye.

In McLaren’s own words, the 570GT is “for the journey” while the hardcore 570S is “for the thrill.”  That means the GT is softer and more pragmatic than its cousins, dialing back the intensity for a more comfortable experience. But just how much muzzling did McLaren do? Has this bulldog lost its bite? Thankfully, many of my questions were answered right away.

Racing DNA

I first met the 570GT in downtown Portland, Oregon, and the moment it pulled up, people started moving toward it as if attracted by a magnetic field. This is a gorgeous machine, an agile yet powerful design with pronounced rear haunches, a wonderful smile, and dihedral doors that open like a raptor spreading its wings. Of all my car reviews, I’ve never been ogled and photographed more than in the silver McLaren. At one point, a group of five knelt in front of the car to take selfies while I waited at a red light, so clearly, the GT’s utility hasn’t damaged its sex appeal.

Things got even better in the driver’s seat. I expected a $200,000, 562-horsepower carbon fiber supercar to be good, but the 570GT left me speechless. The acceleration is absolutely ferocious, as the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 spits 562 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. McLaren says 0 to 60 comes in a brisk 3.4 seconds (a few tenths behind the 570S), and flat out, it’ll reach 204 mph. To put things in perspective, if I smashed the throttle when you began reading this sentence, the car would be traveling nearly 124 mph by the time you finished. That’s next-level speed.

Even more impressive than the acceleration is the handling. The McLaren just sticks to the road as if it were glued to it, and although the Pirelli P Zeros get some of the credit for that, the GT’s incredible chassis and relatively low weight of 3,296 pounds make it a dream in the twisties. The turn-in is unbelievably sharp, and it stays so composed through the apexes that it almost feels like you’re cornering in slow motion. Coming out of the bends, the seven-speed Seamless Shift Gearbox really lives up to its name, as it changes gear quicker than any mortal ever could. It’s not just fast, the McLaren 570GT is actually very easy to drive.

A rounded edge

As a driver’s car, the McLaren completely had won me over. A little less focused at the limit than the S due to the extra weight and softer springs (15 percent softer up front and 10 percent out back), but it’s so far ahead of the curve most drivers won’t even notice. After slowing things down a bit, I decided to find out just how practical the supercar actually was.

The acceleration is absolutely ferocious, as the twin-turbo V8 spits 562 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels.

First off, the ride is fantastic. The dampers handled the rough roads around Portland without breaking a sweat, and I’d go as far to say this probably has the best ride quality of any high-end supercar out there. Add in softer sport seats, an optional Bowers and Wilkins audio system, and a beautiful panoramic sunroof, and the GT’s cabin is actually a pretty cozy place to be. It even has soft-close doors.

Above the engine sits a leather-lined luggage compartment, and covering it is a side-hinged glass partition that almost makes the 570GT a hatchback. It adds 7.8 cubic feet of cargo space to the vehicle, and combined with the 5.3 cu. ft. you get from the front trunk, you’re left with 13.1 cu. ft. of total storage room. Believe it or not, that’s actually more than you get in a 2017 Toyota Corolla. The separated storage hinders the McLaren’s utility a bit, but for a supercar, that isn’t bad.

A step too far?

As weird as it may sound, exhaust notes are sacred to gearheads like me. Whether it’s the guttural roar of an American big block or the frenzied whine of an Italian V12, a car’s soundtrack can be just as important as its styling or capability, and unfortunately McLaren has muzzled the 570GT’s exhaust to make it more civilized. I just can’t understand why.

Many modern sports cars feature exhaust systems with baffles that allow the car to be quiet when it needs to but loud when it wants to. You don’t really get that option here, because no matter which drive mode you’re in — Normal, Sport, or Track — you’re left with a relatively muted tone that doesn’t match the vehicle’s performance. For something that costs $215,540 as tested, I was expecting a little more.

2017 McLaren 570GT review
Andrew Hard/Digital Trends
Andrew Hard/Digital Trends

That’s a relatively minor gripe, but in terms of glaring flaws, I have to mention the outdated infotainment system. The touchscreen is slow and lacking in functionality compared to its competitors, and even though the car’s performance does a great job of distracting you, the system is subpar. Booting up the system or entering in a destination address often brings up a loading screen (yes, a loading screen), and the response times leave something to be desired. A noticeable smudge on an otherwise remarkable machine.

Our Take

With the 570GT, McLaren took one step back to take two steps forward. It’s may not be as visceral as the 570S on a racetrack, but given that most people drive on the road, the 570GT is a better car for the majority of us. It’s friendly and well-mannered most of the time, but put your foot down and the 570GT will happily bring its racing roots to the surface, and the experience is like no other.

What are the alternatives?

The 570GT is not alone in its quest for supercar practicality, and the Audi R8 is its most qualified opponent. The two are quite comparable in terms of speed (the R8 V10 Plus is slightly quicker), but numbers are just numbers. Having sampled both, the lighter, rear-drive McLaren feels sharper and nimbler through technical turns, and vehicle just seems … special. I knew it the moment Portland natives started pouring out of the woodwork just to get a glance, because when a McLaren rolls by, it’s not just a car, it’s an event.

That said, the R8 is pretty special itself, and with features like a Virtual Cockpit display and Google Earth navigation, its tech is worlds better. Switching between the McLaren and the Audi is like going from DVD to Blu-ray, and when it comes to engine notes, the German has a much, much better singing voice.

With a starting price of $198,950, interested parties will likely cross-shop between the 570GT, R8, Mercedes-AMG GT S, Porsche 911 Turbo S, Acura NSX, and even the Nissan GT-R. Outside of the R8, none of them leverage usability and pulse-pounding performance as adeptly as the GT, and as much as I appreciate well-crafted car tech, the driving feel matters most in a vehicle like this. With that in mind, I’d side with the Brit.

How long will it last?

The 570GT is built on McLaren’s MonoCell II carbon fiber chassis, the same platform that underpins all of the brand’s Sports Series models. MonoCell II debuted on the 570S just last year, so we don’t expect the 570GT to be replaced any time soon. It could use an infotainment system update, but realistically, this is years away.

Should you buy it?

If you have $200,000 to spill and you’re looking for a vehicle that can do hot laps, milk runs, and weekend cruises well, look no further. Just be prepared to have your photo taken. A lot.

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