Now, meet the new GT version of the 570S, which makes its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next week. The on-sale date is in July, with the first US deliveries taking place in late 2016. This is a case where GT does not mean performance, but instead the traditional definition of Grand Touring. With a swipe of his felt tip pen over a just a few panels (roof, rear wings, and deck), Melville and his team transformed the look and mien of this British mid-engine supercar. They've transformed its usefulness, too, with a sizeable hatchback behind the driver and passenger that gives an additional 7.8 cubic feet of space, now 12.4 in total. As vehicle line director Andy Palmer puts it, "more than that in a Ford Focus." And he should know, having worked on that ubiquitous Ford in a former life.
The side-hinged glass rear hatch means curbside loading is possible, although you'll have to luggage across the coachwork, so watch for those brass sliders and zips. The hinge side varies according to left-versus right-hand-drive markets. The redesigned aluminium panels and additional trim adds more than 80 pounds to the car's claimed weight – 2,976 pounds compared to 2,894 in the 570S. There's an associated (though negligible) reduction in acceleration time with the GT, too – 3.4 seconds to 62 miles per hour, up from 3.2 in the 570S. The larger 0-124-mph sprint takes 9.8 seconds, compared to the S' 9.5, but never fear, the top end remains unchanged at 204 mph.
The basic carbon-fiber tub remains, as does the mid-mounted Ricardo designed-and-built M838TE engine – a 3.8-liter, 90-degree, quad-cam, dry-sump, twin-turbo V8, which pumps out 562 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque, running through a seven-speed, twin-clutch, semi-automatic transmission to the rear wheels. There are, however, chassis changes to suit the GT car's long-distance ambitions.
While a significant minority of 570S owners will take their car to the track for the occasional speedy lap or two, McLaren says that even fewer GT owners will indulge themselves like this. Thus, the suspension is softened with a 15-percent reduction in front spring rates and a 10-percent reduction at the rear. Additionally, the GT's adjustable damping force algorithms are reduced to give a slightly more compliant ride quality. The steering ratio is reduced by two percent, and the deletion of the rear flying buttresses means their eight-percent contribution to overall downforce is gone as well.
The GT gets the slightly quieter exhaust system from the 540C, as well as steel brakes (instead of carbon ceramic). To quiet things even further, the GT uses specially developed Pirelli PZero tires which have a polyurethane sponge adhered to the inner liner of the tire which absorb up to three decibels of cabin noise.
Other changes include a clever mixing and matching of optional equipment on the 570S made standard on the 570GT. The list includes a panoramic sunroof, soft-close doors, electronic steering column and seat adjustment, a leather covered parcel shelf with luggage restraint hooks, extended interior trim into the hatchback, and an optional 1,280-watt, 12-speaker Bower & Wilkins stereo system. Two main trim levels will be offered – Luxury or B and M Sports – although McLaren expects most orders to be for the former trim.
The car will retail for $198,950, or about 10 percent more than the $184,900 570S. When the McLaren introduced the GT to its dealers earlier this year, it said the coupe would occupy a small proportion of sales. "Nonsense," replied the dealer body en masse, which actually expect it to occupy at least 50 percent of 570 sales, perhaps more. We can't help feeling they are right.