WhichCar
Powered by
  • WheelsWheels
  • MOTORMOTOR
  • 4X4 Australia4X4 Australia
  • Street MachineStreet Machine
  • Trade Unique CarsTrade Unique Cars

2019 McLaren 570GT Long Term Review

By Andy Enright, 17 Nov 2019 Reviews

McLaren 570GT Long Term Review

McLaren's 570GT might be pitched as the 'everyday Mac', but a long-term steer shows that this Brit is anything but soft

Sometimes it pays to ask. A couple of years ago, I was having lunch with the head of McLaren’s PR operation. I mentioned to him that a number of British publications had run long-term McLarens and that if the model worked for them, why couldn’t it work for Wheels? Surprisingly, he agreed.

After a whole lot of wheedling with the local press team, the phone call eventually came that there was a McLaren 570GT available and would we like to take delivery? We didn’t need asking twice. We’re a broad church here at Wheels and the Mac would make a punchy counterpoint in Garage to the usual hatches and SUVs.

mclaren 570GT

Read next: Five cool McLaren 570 GT features

McLaren splits its range into three tiers. At the top is the Ultimate Series – mega money hypercars like the Senna and Speedtail. In the middle is the Super Series, currently populated by the 720S. Its most accessible line is the Sports Series, which includes the 540C, 570S, 600LT and the car it bills as the most practical in that line, the 570GT, effectively a slightly softer 570S with a glazed-in ‘Touring Deck’ behind the seats for additional luggage carrying capacity.

Most 570GTs that I’ve seen have been finished in typically sober colours – dark blues, greens and greys – but our car has been treated to optional Volcano Orange paint and it looks magnificent. And yes, I’ve now heard just about every Holden Commodore ‘Tiger Mica’ jibe possible.

mclaren 570GT

What’s more, it wasn’t a car that had been passed around every outlet in Australia before doing duty as a long termer in its dotage. The odo read 460km and everything about it was absolutely immaculate.

It had the optional front lifter kit fitted, without which the car is virtually unusable in town, a sports exhaust to give it a bit more voice in the upper registers, and a very cool MSO electrochromic glass roof. Tap a touch-sensitive slider above your head and the roof changes from clear to a deep, shady blue. Handy for late Australian summer days.

mclaren 570GT

Read next: 2018 McLaren 570S Spider review

Other options included diamond-cut forged alloys, a Bowers and Wilkins stereo, soft-close doors, a smattering of additional carbonfibre bits and parking sensors and camera. These helped lift the $415,000 list price to a heady $538,845.50. Gulp. Couple that with a stiff insurance excess and I started to see why many supercar owners just roll them out for high days and holidays.

Thing is, in order to properly put to the test McLaren’s claims that the GT was a liveable proposition everyday and that their owners typically used their cars far more frequently than Ferrari and Lamborghini customers, we were going to use it much as we would any other long termer.

mclaren 570GT

 So it’d do the commute in traffic up the Monash Freeway, it’d be used in fair weather and foul and we’d also take it to Bunnings to see what would actually fit into the ‘frunk’ and the Touring Deck.

That raised more than a few eyebrows and gave some people the opportunity to mug it up for Nathan Jacobs’ camera, but also gave us some idea as to the limitations of the 570GT. Squashy bags are your friend in the frunk, which is surprisingly deep, but as soon as you use the Touring Deck, you lose the rear visibility that helps makes the Sports Series such a friendly car to drive.

Performance review: 2017 McLaren 570S Spider review

We’re just getting to know the 570GT. Next month we put it to a sterner test on Wheels’ COTY test route.

mclaren 570GT

Update 2

THIS IS going to sound ridiculous given this 419kW/600Nm weapon from Woking is the fastest long-termer Wheels has ever run, and yet, here, right now, on the first couple of kilometres of our Car of the Year test route, it feels … slow. Actually, that is ridiculous. Slow isn’t the right word. Gentle? Measured? Unhurried?

It’s none of these things, of course. Even allowing for the fact that the 570GT is the ‘soft one’ in McLaren’s entry-level Sports Series range and has the greatest focus on real-world usability (courtesy of softer suspension, slower steering and a useful luggage compartment behind the seats), it is an absolute rocketship. 0-100km/h takes 3.4sec and if you keep it pinned, the quarter mile is dispatched in 11.1sec – a time equal to the mighty McLaren F1.

mclaren 570GT

Read next: Five cool McLaren 570 GT features

Yet life is all about context, and thanks to a stint in America driving the McLaren 600LT, my context is totally out of whack. Of all the cars to drive before a 570GT, the 600LT is possibly the worst. Where the GT’s pitch is all about bandwidth and being an everyday supercar, the 600LT has a narrower focus – uncompromising performance. It’s a monster. So much so that it really does make our 570GT seem soft in comparison.

I’m aware that this is the epitome of a First World problem (“My last McLaren was more exciting, waaah!”), but stay with me, because it’s interesting on a couple of levels. First up is the issue of price. As the 600LT is positioned as the pinnacle of McLaren’s Sports Series range, you’d expect it to be significantly more expensive. And yet it isn’t. Starting at $496,000, the base 600LT is $42K less expensive (I won’t say ‘cheaper’) than our 570GT, which is carrying some tasty options.

mclaren 570GT

More illuminating, however, is the realisation that even though McLaren’s road car range is vast and sometimes requires a sextant to decode, it shows that Woking’s engineers are capable of giving different models distinctly unique flavours. No mean feat given they’re all built around the same basic recipe: carbon tub, twin-turbo V8, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Read next: 2018 McLaren 570S Spider review

So where the 600LT is like a deranged rottweiler straining at the lead, the 570GT is more restrained. Throttle calibration in Normal mode verges on docile and requires greater travel than you initially expect to make quick progress. The suspension is more relaxed, the cabin is relatively hush for a supercar, and despite the theatre of the dihedral doors, entry and egress are surprisingly easy.

mclaren 570GT

Don’t dismiss it as a softy, however. While it never feels as feral as the 600LT, our 570GT is ferociously fast. Deceptively fast. On our COTY route, it’s so capable and unflustered that I often see speeds that are 30-40km/h higher than I expect.

That the 570GT is able to coolly and swiftly pick apart our favourite section of tarmac is no real surprise. These are the kind of roads McLarens live for.

Performance review: 2017 McLaren 570S Spider review

A sterner test will surely be to see how it copes with the speedhumps, gutters, tailgating SUVs and steep driveways that we all battle with every day. More on that next month. 

Update 3

FROM terra firma to the top of its electrochromatic glass roof, a McLaren 570GT measures a mere 120cm. Everything around you becomes a tall vehicle. You stare up at the rear of a modest Mazda 3 in highway traffic and swear that you’re looking at a hefty CX-5.

Read next: 2018 McLaren 570S Spider review

That proximity to terra firma is both a blessing and a curse. Your surface-skimming fundament makes the Mac feel impossibly exotic, delivers decent headroom and keeps the centre of gravity good and low. You feel intimately connected to what each corner of the car’s doing at any point through entry, apex and exit. 

mclaren 570GT

The primary concern for me when I took delivery of the 570GT was whether I’d even be able to get it into my garage. The Enright driveway ascends from the horizontal like the Lhotse Face, and that approach angle had defeated a Porsche 911 GTS I’d previously tried to squirrel away for the night.

McLaren had assured us that the hydraulic lifter kit, which raises the front end by 4cm, would keep the car’s long and low nose off the ground, but the first attempt was aborted when the nose was clearly going to come into contact with the exposed aggregate.

A quick trip to my local Autobarn saw a set of Rough Country rubber recovery tracks come to the rescue, lifting the nose just far enough to get the vehicle up the drive. I’m sure they’ll come in handy for future off-road ineptitude.

Performance review: 2017 McLaren 570S Spider review

Swelled with pride at having kept the front end from scraping the deck, I set off up a back road behind my house for a congratulatory fang, only to hear nose meet bitumen over a virtually non-existent surface imperfection. Somewhat crestfallen, I pulled over to inspect what I thought would be some ugly damage to the front splitter, only to find that I’d just rashered the head off one of the fixings holding it on.

mclaren 570GT

From that point on, I ensured that the 570GT was set to one of its firmer suspension modes on bumpy roads. That might sound like a recipe for churning your breakfast into butter, but even in its most focused mode there’s enough compliance on Aussie B-roads.

While the lifter kit is a must-have fitment for negotiating traffic humps and drop kerbs, pushing the left-hand stalk up to raise the nose – while keeping the steering straight and making sure your speed doesn’t creep too high – can be a bit stressy when going for a hurried nose-raise in town. It takes 10s to lift the front end and 14 to lower it, a job that takes a couple of seconds to do in a 911 GT3. One job for the facelift has to be a simpler method to briskly raise the nose at vehicle speeds up to 100km/h. Otherwise life with the 570GT couldn’t be much better.

Update 4

I DON’T THINK I’m a supercar kind of guy. That might seem an odd admission given that I’ve just enjoyed a long-term tenure with a 570GT, but if I had to summarise my relationship with the McLaren it would probably fall into the ‘complicated’ category. I never once stopped getting a kick out of seeing it in my garage. When my partner wasn’t looking, I’d often leave the door from the garage to the house open a nick, just to catch a glimpse of that sickle-shaped headlight as I walked between my bedroom and the kitchen.

McLaren 570GT Long Term Review

The 570GT was always a riot to drive, too. There’s something extremely life-affirming about waking up and realising that you’re going to be punting a carbon-tubbed missile with 280kW/tonne up some amazing country roads before you start your working day. As our editor, Alex Inwood, noted last month, other people seemed to love the McLaren too. But here’s the thing. I’m not going to pretend that actually running a McLaren 570GT is an entirely stress-free experience.

McLaren 570GT Long Term Review

You worry about where to park it when you’re out, you’re always wondering if somebody’s going to dint it, you’re hypersensitive to scraping the nose on bumpy roads, or damaging an alloy in a pothole, or birdlime damaging the paint. You get paranoid about sea salt on wet swim gear going anywhere near anything made of leather, and you sometimes take a couple of trips around the block because you weren’t sure about the car that was behind you as you approached your house. Supercar paranoia. It’s a thing.

Now, none of this is an issue inherent to the McLaren. I’d doubtless be the same if I were in a Lamborghini or a Ferrari, and I’ve realised that the only real way to alleviate this issue is to have so much money that you really don’t care about any of the above. You just pay an insignificant (to you) sum to have someone fix it on your behalf and get on with your life. So, if you can only just scrape your way into supercar ownership, I’d counsel against it.

McLaren 570GT Long Term Review

As it stands, a couple of issues would have sent the McLaren back to the shop this month in any case. The first to raise its head was that the sat-nav started behaving in a deeply odd fashion. It’d record the car as moving when it was stationary and then fail to register the car on the satellite network at all on other occasions. The second issue concerned the photochromatic glass roof. This switched itself to dark mode, and no amount of button jabbing or rebooting the car would see it return to full transparency. Neither were major issues, but both were a little annoying.

Nor did they take the shine off those moments when the sun was out, you had no particular place to go and there was nobody watching. Would I be a supercar guy if I had the requisite funds? Let’s just say that the McLaren 570GT delivers quite a convincing argument, and it’s been a wholly memorable experience. Anybody want to crowdfund an impecunious journalist?

McLaren 570GT Long Term Review

Sign-up here to get the weekly Wheels highlights