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2017 McLaren 570GT

On Monday, October 17th, 2016

The McLaren 570GT seems like an unusual diversion for the British supercar maker. Set alongside the spare, nimble 570S, the fighter jet 650S and the cruise missile 675LT, you might naturally assume this grand tourer is the softie of the bunch.

2017 McLaren

I approached the green-blue 570GT you see here with the same preconceptions. Over three days spent traipsing around L.A., romping through deserted California canyons, and scything up the coast to Monterey, the McLaren utterly decimated those notions.

Consider McLaren’s approach with the Sport Series lineup. Instead of starting with a grand tourer, then amping up the aggression with a subsequent sports model, McLaren kicked things off with the sharp-edged 570S. It’s an engineer’s strategy: Better to tone down some of the rawness of a true supercar than try to slim down and sharpen up an inherently compromised cruiser. Other automakers train an office manager to run a marathon; McLaren puts business clothes on an Olympian.

The payoff courses through your fingers and feet the moment you drive away. Even in the infuriating traffic crawl of downtown L.A., the McLaren feels special. The steering gear is two percent slower than the 570S, but the wheel still shivers over pavement heaves; the floor-hinged aluminum brake pedal, the best I’ve ever felt in a car with a license plate, gives a satisfying clack as your foot withdraws. There’s even joy in fuel-saving stop-start mode, which treats your ears to the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8’s ripping whir every time it fires back up.

Like nearly every modern supercar, the 570GT is admirably capable as a daily driver. But that’s not why anyone buys an as-tested $205,960 mid-engine carbon-fiber streak-even one that’s been rearranged to offer a side-hinged rear cargo hold, Jaguar E-Type style, in addition to the deep front trunk.

There are stripped-down, bored-out, lightweighted and decontented factory hot rods that we absolutely love-cars that peel away the gilding and luxury to show the inherent capabilities of the skeleton underneath. Admiring the 570GT takes nothing away from those bare-bones freak machines. But there’s something perverse about paying more for getting less, especially in a car that’s still hampered by the basic shortcomings of its mass-market engineering.

The 570GT abolishes that tradeoff. And sure, this is 2016: Any brand-new supercar you can buy will happily idle in traffic without overheating, correct for klutzy driving, or start up no matter the weather. Exotic two-seaters aren’t the temperamental, fragile playthings they once were.

So why not take advantage of today’s best engineering? Why not build a supercar that offers a modicum of comfort without penalizing performance? That’s the engineer’s solution. And that’s exactly what McLaren has done.

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