Anyone who has ever spent a day driving a supercar is quick to admit that while an absolute blast to drive, they’re far from practical. It’s like the engineers took the things you want in a car (comfort, a working radio, boot space), and threw them out.
All done in the name of speed and design, it makes them great fun on the freeway, but an absolute pain when it comes to fitting your overnight bag in the boot. But, what if we said you could not only have your cake, but eat it too, and all at 326km/h.
Enter the 2023 McLaren GT. A car we were fortunate enough to experience on the inner city streets of Sydney, and along stretches of the NSW coast. An absolute head turner, delivering subtle sports car looks, with smooth and elegant lines.
Get up close and personal though and you can see its tough side, with large engine cooling vents behind the doors offering a hint of just what this mid-engined performance machine is capable of.
Likewise, the front splitter gives the impression that it could suck in an innocent bystander if you accelerate too hard on suburban streets. All this body worked is paired with huge black rims, with the brakes alone being almost as big as some cars wheels.
Paired with some low-profile tyres, which give it that sleek feel, and red callipers, the wheels were a seriously eye-grabbing detail. Elegant, yet powerful – the McLaren’s exterior is the perfect balance of luxury and engineering.
The interior is as impressive. It complements the subtle but serious outside, without being overly complicated. You won’t find extra buttons, or in fact any buttons, on the steering wheel. It’s just you, and two flappy paddles to control your gear changes.
A real driver’s car, the GT comes equipped with an easy-to-use infotainment unit that’s a breeze to navigate. It won’t leave you feeling like you’re trying to reprogram a NASA satellite just to turn up the volume on the radio, but it does have some flaws.
One of them is a distinct lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – that’s an optional extra. The exceptionally good satellite navigation makes up for it a little, but it’s hard not to feel like there’s an integrated smartphone sized hole in the McLaren’s tech functionality.
There is of course Bluetooth connectivity though, but you’d be mad not to tick the option box to get the two official platforms that give you access to all those extra goodies from your mobile device.
What sets the McLaren GT apart from its super car rivals though is not power, or its sleek styling, but its storage capabilities. The front boot (or frunk if you’re a Tesla fan) has 150-litres of space, which was sufficient enough for two overnight bags and our camera gear.
The rear, which boasts 420-litres of room had no problem holding a set of golf clubs with a little bit of shuffling about. While it’s no family wagon, there’s no back seats after all, it is a supercar that supports a touring lifestyle.
A trip up to the Hunter Valley (or the nearest wine region in your state) for the weekend for a game of golf with the partner or a daytrip down the coast on your favourite bits of winding tarmac are exactly the types of adventures this car is designed to do.
On the road, we started off cruising Sydney’s traffic in Comfort mode (more on that in a second), where the McLaren is stress free to drive, and can handle the odd pothole or speedhump. We do need to talk about the huge brakes fitted to each wheel though.
The car has a very solid pedal, which is awesome at speed as it provides great brake feel when you’re in a hurry, but that’s not so in crawling traffic. Instead you’ll find it wanting to creep forward a little, all on its own, meaning you’ll have to hold the pedal harder.
It’s a minor thing, but it can be a little challenging to the uninitiated. From there we found the nearest set of twisty roads to see just how the McLaren handled when being pushed to its limits. The exhilaration that the GT unleashes cannot be understated.
Its 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 offers up a thumping 456kW of power and 630Nm of torque when the pedal is put to the proverbial metal, and it’s particularly joyous when the engine is singing at a high rpm.
From a standing or rolling start, the turbos won’t kick in properly until around 4000rpm, but when they do, you’ll feel like you have been shot out of a cannon. The McLaren’s nose lifts and you find yourself trying to hold on for dear life. It’s a magical experience.
Once you’ve mastered the rev range alongside the 7-speed seamless shift gearbox, pushing the GT into corners feels firm, but fair. Two knobs in the centre console let you dial up or dial down just how performance oriented this supercar is.
One controls the engine and the other the suspension settings, with Comfort, Sport and Track modes on offer for both. Track mode is the most angry, and while it won’t have you bucking out of your seat on your favourite back roads, it holds well while cornering.
We did expect the GT to be light in the front, given the placement of its powerplant, but this is not so, and it more than holds the road at speed, no matter the surface. When slowing down, a good push of the brake pedal had you stopping on a dime.
All-in-all, the 2023 McLaren GT is an exceedingly well presented car with great features, and top notch performance. The seats are among its small handful of down sides, and not only lack comfort, but the controls are crammed between them and the centre console.
It became affectionately known as seat positioning by braille during our time with the car. There was also a constant audible buzzing that came from under the dash – especially at lower speeds (apparently it’s a McLaren feature but we didn’t love it).
The other was the doors. We all love the movie star status of a scissor door, but the ones on the GT, although they looked great, were difficult to get opened and closed. While the gas struts helped, it was still far from easy.
Combining practicality with looks and speed, the McLaren GT, despite a handful of drawbacks, is a proper supercar that’s also at home on a drive around the countryside. Priced from $403,500 plus on-roads, you can find out more online.
Our test vehicle was supplied by McLaren Automotive Australia. To find out more about the 2023 McLaren GT, contact your local McLaren dealer.