Despite this being the first time I’ve driven a 570GT, I’ve got an uncanny sense of déjà vu. Ever since I first sat in a car, I have like most people assimilated through hands, feet, backside, nose and inner ear all sorts of sensations relating to different cars. And right now my brain is slowly going through the filing system, checking the microfiche, looking for a match. It doesn’t take long.
The 570GT has plenty of the same sensations that the original MP4-12C had. Although the 12C had the novel ProActive Chassis Control suspension setup and the 570GT has a more conventional arrangement with anti-roll bars, the GT’s ride in its Normal chassis mode feels very similar to the 12C’s. There’s a familiar suppleness, particularly over larger bumps.
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Since the 12C, every new McLaren has been more focused and more sporting than that original (probably in an effort to combat the cars from Maranello). However, what plenty of people – both those building the car and those buying it – really loved about the 12C’s approach to the mid-engined supercar was its usability and comfort.
I can attest to the 12C’s GT credentials having spent days at a time driving one across both France and Morocco (evo 173). The 570GT has that same sense that you could do big miles very easily, stepping out relatively unruffled at the end. The glass roof and extra space behind your head add to the already airy feeling of the cockpit. There isn’t actually that much more useable luggage space than in a 570S, but the side-hinged hatch does make it more accessible.
Turn the chassis to Sport and things become a touch more focused but still very usable. As the miles disappear, I’m starting to wonder what the S can offer to make the 570 a more desirable car (other than giving you the same 562bhp for £143,250 to the GT’s £154,000), so at the next petrol station I swap with Dan Prosser and duck under the door of the orange car.
Start it up and you notice that you’re slightly less insulated from the noises behind you, but barely past the last fuel pump it’s also obvious what the S gives you over the GT dynamically. The whole car feels tighter. Not aggressively or unpleasantly so; it’s just more alert, in a higher state of readiness. A two per cent quicker steering ratio doesn’t sound like much, but combined with spring rates that are 15 per cent stiffer at the front and ten per cent firmer at the rear, the S feels like its reactions have been given a pleasing half-dose of adrenalin.
Driving both cars round Anglesey Circuit later in the day, the differences are clear at the limit, too. In the GT you tend to lean on the front end more, working the outside tyre through long corners. This mild natural understeer through faster sections will appeal to some drivers as it’s a less intimidating limit to push against and easier to manage. If you’re confident, however, then the S has the more appealing balance. In fact, it has one of the most pleasing balances of any current car available, bleeding into oversteer sweetly through fast corners.
Of course, the subjective elephant in the room is the styling of the two cars. For some people that I asked, the looks alone were a deal-breaker in terms of which they would choose, and opinions were always in favour of the light blue corner. The GT looks like the car that was originally penned – the purer, sleeker shape – while with the S gives the impression of having had to compromise on the GT’s shape.
Both cars are very appealing, but at the end of the day, everyone I spoke to agreed that their perfect spec of 570 would have the GT’s body with the chassis and steering from the S. I’d also add the full, fixed-back bucket seats to that list because I think they make the most of that incredible driving position and, despite appearances, don’t really compromise on comfort. Others went the whole hog and said the P Zero Corsa tyres were a must-have too, but I’d be less fussy about those. Which just leaves us with the question of what to call this hybrid. Might I suggest a 570GTS would be a terrific addition to the Sports Series line up?