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WHEN it comes to mid-engined super sports models, the McLaren road car is arguably one of those which can be described as truly having real-world useability.
Now, there is a new model that takes that up another notch - the 570GT.
The McLaren 570GT and 570S belong to the Sport Series and both are two-seater coupes powered by a 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 (McLaren also has a Super Series with even higher performance levels).
The nameplate refers to the 570 hp output and together with 600 Newton-metres of torque on tap, zero to 100 kmh is dispatched in 3.4 seconds for the GT and 3.2 seconds for the S.
Both have the same light but rigid carbon fibre construction but the difference in acceleration is due to the 1,350 kg 570GT weighing 37 kg more than the 570S.
Because as its suffix indicates, the 570GT is a grand tourer with a rear glass hatch and luggage space below. It also costs S$60,000 more.
From the chiselled nose up to the upward opening dihedral doors, the 570GT is identical to the 570S. They share the same striking "shrink-wrapped'' aluminium bonnet and teardrop-shaped cockpit. But from the double-layered door back, the rear ends differ.
Both have the same floating tendon design in the doors for airflow management. On the 570S, some of the air is channelled up along the shoulder line through the flying buttress rear pillars and into the exposed engine bay.
But because of the glass hatch, the 570GT has no flying buttresses. To achieve the necessary stability and downforce, there is a higher rear lip spoiler than on the 570S.
The frame of the glass hatch is made of carbon fibre (aluminium isn't strong enough). The hatchback opens sideways to reveal what McLaren calls a touring deck with 220 litres of storage space and beautifully trimmed in leather or alcantara with runners and a retaining loop to secure luggage.
And unlike the 570S, the 570GT has a panoramic glass roof that not only extends the roofline but creates more headroom.
But the biggest difference between the two cars is the unusually high level of comfort. The 570GT has reduced spring rates - less 15 per cent in front and 10 per cent behind - and the front and rear anti-roll bars are also more accommodating.
It also uses Pirelli P Zero tyres that are quieter. Add more insulation and the luxury quotient has been significantly raised.
Less tyre noise intrudes into the cabin and the ride is more forgiving. On the Sepang International Circuit earlier this week, the 570GT accelerates just as hard and fast as a 570S down the pit straight.
Stomp on the brakes for the hairpin corner and the GT cuts its speed rapidly but calmly. The steering wheel doesn't fidget and it is clearly less nervous than the 570S.
But while the P Zeros (19 inches front and 20 rear) provide a smoother ride, they are also more prone to tyre squeal and some sliding when pushed hard.
Yet this can make the 570GT a lot more entertaining in fast corners compared with the sportier 570S, whose precision and dynamism may come across as being more clinical.
More importantly, it is the ideal long-distance sports car. This is a road rocket that will hit 200 kmh from stationary in under 10 seconds on the way to a top speed of 328 kmh. So any long-distance schlepp that has to be covered quickly and comfortably should be done in the 570GT.
Best of all, it is practical, or at least, relatively so. Add the stowage area in the nose and there is a total of 350 litres of luggage space.
Practicality, comfort and luxury are not words often used to describe a mid-engined super sports car but when it is the McLaren 570GT, they can be.
Engine 3,799cc V8 turbocharged
Transmission 7-speed dual clutch
Max power 570 hp @ 7,500 rpm
Max torque 600 Nm @ 5,000-6,500 rpm
0-100 kmh 3.4 secs
0-200 kmh 9.8 secs
Top speed 328 kmh
CO2 emissions 249 g/km
Price S$919,999 (without COE)
Distributor Eurokars Supersports