If you’re in the market for a two-seater sports car, there are few that don’t suffer from image problems. The Italians are too ostentatious; the Germans too ubiquitous; the Japanese too conservative; and the Americans too loud.
That leaves you with the plucky Brits.
Aston Martin, Lotus and McLaren are all making some of the most attractive and spectacular two-seaters you’ll find anywhere on the planet. And sure, I may be British – and therefore admittedly biassed on the subject – but I’d take any of the above over their competitors from overseas because, frankly, they’re cooler.
And when it comes to the curb appeal x rarity matrix, it’s difficult to beat a McLaren. Of all them – whether the ones with many numbers (570, 675, 720, 765) or those made in very low numbers (Senna, Speedtail, Elva), I think the coolest of the lot is the GT. Especially with the Stealth Badge Package.
Perhaps it’s also because I’m British and therefore inherently reserved, that this is my model of choice. It is the most understated of McLaren’s line-up – and the most refined.
But don’t for a second think that means it’s boring. Press the starter button and the blip from the 4.0 L V8 tells you everything you need to know: you’re in for a fun ride.
Foot down and you’ll reach 60mph in under 3.2 seconds; you’ll knock off a quarter-mile in 10.7 seconds and carry on until you hit 203mph. More than 610bhp and 630Nm of torque tends to do that for a car – especially one made largely of carbon fibre so it weighs in at just over one and half tonnes.
And because the engine is just behind your shoulders you feel somehow more in touch with the car – being able to hear every delightful spool and flutter from the turbos.
The cornering is astonishingly precise – it’s so anchored to the ground it’s like it’s grown roots. Yet the suspension has been recalibrated with softer front springs so it’s less of a bone-rattler than its more track-focussed stablemates.
Being a McLaren, it is rear-wheel drive, so push hard enough and the back end will start to let go. But it’s more of a lingering goodbye than a middle finger in your face.
So, what else makes McLaren’s GT a Grand Tourer and not a supercar?
Well, the biggest difference is luggage space. As well as the front boot, there’s a rear storage solution, too – and rather a unique one at that. What McLaren has done is made the world’s fastest hatchback.
Press a button and the rear tailgate rises up revealing a luggage bay offering 15 cubic feet of storage. It’s big enough for boots and coats, and dare I say it, a few golf clubs.
An optional panoramic glass roof lets more natural light into the cabin – and has electrochromatic tech allowing you to fade from opaque to transparent.
Other GT traits include a plusher interior: there’s Nappa leather upholstery is standard, and you can even go for cashmere if you’re so inclined. McLaren’s interiors are world class – their design organic and flowing, as if Frank Gehry and Antoni Gaudí got together in automotive design school.
One thing you will want to plump for is the 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins system – not only does it sound better, but B&W’s trademark yellow woofers look cooler, too.
Negatives? No Apple Carplay. Which means no Waze. Also, if it rains – which it will, because you’re in England – and you lift the rear roof, a fair bit of water drips into the cargo bay. But hey, fill the boot with your waterproofs and wellies, and that’s less of an issue.
Frankly, once you’ve started driving the GT, you’ll never want to get out anyway. The whole point of a Grand Tourer is that it’s a nice place to be. Carve the McLaren GT down a clear road, and I challenge you to find anywhere better.
For more info, see cars.mclaren.com