FEB 24th 2016

McLaren Springs Geneva Surprise – A 570 Hatchback!

After Geneva show debuts last year for the P1 GTR and the 675 LT, McLaren is putting on (slightly) more sensible shoes for the Swiss exposition in 2016. Woking is showing us its practical side.

Geneva preview promo

Meet the 570GT, with an, erm, hatchback. A three-door then? Not quite – there is after all only so much you can do to add practicality to a mid-engined two-seater. But there is a definite lift-up glass tailgate – side-hinged moreover, with echoes of the E-type fixed head – that offers direct access to the luggage space.

In one boast by McLaren that we never imagined we would hear, the 570GT is said to have more total luggage space than a Ford Focus. It’s true, too, with 350 litres playing 316 (unless you fold the Ford’s seats down of course).

Before Focus owners rush out and trade up, however, they should know that while the new GT addition to the Sports Series range is McLaren’s ‘everyday’ model, its extra luggage capacity is better suited to a couple of Vuitton squashy bags than Ikea flatpacks.

McLaren 570GT 570S

Perfect for grand touring with the partner then? McLaren thinks so. To that end, the 570GT aims as keeping the passenger as happy as the driver with features like cupholders, twin vanity mirrors, a big stereo, soft-close doors, lots of leather, huge glass panoramic roof, parking sensors and heated seats. The glass roof has a radiation-absorbing 18 per cent tint so you won’t cook from above as well as below. Like all the Sports Series models, the new MonoCell II carbon tub has been slimmed down at the sills so the car is easier to get in and out of.

The GT, set for a debut at the Geneva Motor Show on 1 March, is also softer, quieter, less agile, heavier and generally the most road-biased of all Woking’s marvellous machines. In detail: it’s softer with 15 per cent off front spring rates, 10 per cent off the rears; it’s quieter by 3dB thanks to a changed exhaust system; the steering is two per cent less direct; weight has increased from the 570S’s 1,330kg to 1,350kg; and the suspension has been set up to aid ride quality over poor surfaces, says the firm. You also get iron brakes rather than carbon ceramic.

Does all that make it bit of a wimp? For a P1 owner perhaps, but the rest of are unlikely to be disappointed. Like any 570 the GT comes with the familiar twin turbo 3.8-litre V8 pumping out 562bhp (570PS) . It will crack 200mph and get from 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds. It also comes with a track setting for when ‘everyday use’ can happily include an excursion on the Motor Circuit. Just remember the non-ceramic brakes…

McLaren 570GT

Aside from the extra practicality, the GT also comes with a notably different look at the back. In place of buttresses and mesh engine cover there’s a new expanse of (alloy) bodywork that replaces some of the visual aggression with a softly rounded and very cohesive new look, with the dark-tinted glass roof and tailgate sweeping across the top of the car, almost down to the fixed rear spoiler. We wonder about why the side ‘tendons’ are now body colour, but overall the GT is a pretty car made even prettier.

McLaren chief designer Rob Melville (see more of our chat with Rob here) says the GT’s upper body section is new from the header rail back. That’s quite a lot of new bodywork. Apart from getting the design right, the priorities, says Rob, were retaining the car’s aero package and getting the hot engine air out.

And of course incorporating that ‘Touring Deck’. So is it worth having? First impressions says yes – not for the extra space primarily, but for the far easier access to the luggage area behind the front seats. The glass tailgate, which is either left or right-hinged depending on left or right hand drive, opens on the key fob and offers a wide enough aperture to drop bags easily inside, all from the side of the car. Jaguar, you will remember, reprised the E-type’s side-opening tailgate with the C-X16 F-type concept but dropped it for production; here, in a mid-engined car, it is difficult to see how anything else could work as well.

McLaren 570GT

The figures say there is more load space here than before, but towards the rear of the car the ‘boot’ gets very shallow – there is a V8 underneath it. It’s more like an extended – and beautifully leather trimmed – parcel shelf really, but it does offer the only place in the car to lay a suit bag flat, and it’s good for racquets etc – but golfers and skiers will be disappointed. Cram it with stuff of course and you will say goodbye to any view through the rear view mirror.

It is easy to forget that up front all McLaren’s entry-level Sports Series models have a very good 150-litre boot, which is deep and regularly shaped. Bespoke luggage would be nice (it’s coming apparently) but even without it the GT overall would offer enough baggage room for most people for a long weekend.

And for Woking that means mission accomplished, for it believes the GT will appeal to 911 and Aston Martin owners who may have previously ruled out a McLaren on practicality grounds. Priced from £154,000, £10k more than the coupe, the first GTs arrive this summer and McLaren expects to sell 200 of them this year. When the Sports Series is complete with the 570S Spider next year, McLaren says it will hit its self-imposed production max of 4000 cars a year.

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