Saying Goodbye to a Supercar
Clean Fleet Report recently spent a fun-filled, enjoyable week in the 2023 McLaren GT. Cruising Southern California freeways and curve-filled mountains, we were trying to determine if the GT is the most civilized McLaren ever, which the company touts as an everyday driver. The answer to the second question is yes, indeed, it can be used as an egg-and-butter-getter and even for commuting, assuming someone that owns a $233,778 car has a real job.
The McLaren GT is a Gran Tourismo, even though it only has two seats and can only accommodate luggage for those two. So, no antiquing with this car that McLaren says “combines astonishing performance and driving dynamics with everyday usability and refinement.”
The mid-engine design has outstanding steering, generous sight lines, confident racing-type braking and the type of power a car aficionado expects from McLaren.
Nolan Gray, product specialist with McLaren, summed-up the GT succinctly: “It is a supercar first, and a touring car second.” To double-down on this, a Pulitzer Prize-winning automotive journalist offered that the GT is “the best modern supercar…a stupid amount of car. Wonderful!”
Supercars can be high-strung and a handful to drive but, thankfully, this isn’t the characteristic of the GT. It is more of an exotic sports car beginning with a high-performance mid-engine twin-turbo V8. This is the McLaren you can take across town or across the country.
McLaren lets you know right away the GT is a serious driver’s car—the carbon fiber steering wheel is void of all buttons and controls for the audio, telephone and cruise control—meaning serious driving ahead.
Buckle-in, find the far right pedal, apply pressure, and the speed creeps-up from zero to who-knows-how-fast as the 8,000 rpms come to life with the smooth twin turbos bringing a huge smile. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is configurable through the driver-selectable Comfort, Sport and Track drive modes. The strong, linear acceleration, with super-fast and smooth shifts, allows you to hang on tight as the GT’s rise in speed is unassuming in its power and finesse. We would have liked a dead pedal to rest our left foot seeing as it was not needed for a clutch.
Putting it in Track mode and using the large aluminum paddle shifters doesn’t add any quickness to the shifting, but it gives control and connects the driver to the car in a masterful way. We held on for 0-60 in 2.8 seconds and believe the 203 mph top speed quoted by McLaren.
The 4.0-liter, 32-valve V8 puts out 612 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. Driving the rear wheels, the broad and flat acceleration seamlessly keeps going and going and going and is a wonderful feeling.
Usually concerned about fuel efficiency, Clean Fleet Report took a break this week as it was too much fun driving this fine, spirited, powerful automobile without concern for saving a few drops of gasoline. But if interested, the EPA estimates fuel economy to be 15 mpg city/22 highway/18 combined, running on 91 octane.
Not as in getting the last bit of debris out of a corner with a broom, but as in turning this 3,373-pound car. It not only goes exactly where you want it to go, but in a way that makes you think—“How did we do that?”
The variable speed rack-and-pinion steering with adaptive damping for the double-wishbone independent suspension and stability control gives the McLaren GT a planted solid feel. There’s zero body roll or weight shifting, even around the sharpest of corners when attacked far above the posted speed limit. McLaren says there would be no advantage to the GT being all-wheel drive as the near 50:50 weight balance and the superbly engineered suspension does just fine with rear-wheel drive.
The GT is wild enough to take on a race course and proved to be tame enough as an everyday driver. It had a surprisingly smooth ride on Southern California’s mostly concrete freeways that are grooved for water dispersal. Low profile tires and a sports suspension frequently results in feeling every crack and seam in this type of road surface, but not here as the McLaren engineers did a masterful job dialing-in the right suspension combination for sportiness and comfort.
The 10-spoke lightweight forged wheels with gloss black finish, are staggered with Pirelli P Zero 21-inch 225/35s in the rear and 20-inch 295/30s in the front. The 16-inch front and 15-inch rear midsize-pizza-like polished rotors are for the carbon ceramic brakes. These brakes took a while to work at their maximum efficiency, but when they did the stops were solid and true.
The McLaren GT is such a satisfying car to drive. Painted in stunning Tokyo Cyan ($9,400 option) the sleek carbon fiber design grabs attention driving down the road, but even more so when parked and the twin dihedral doors are lifted. Talk about drawing a crowd!
Access through the high swinging doors is smooth and effortless with large dampers to soften the process. Like any low-slung sports car getting in can be an adventure, one that we found was easiest by dropping in butt first, then swinging in the legs. Exiting was by swinging out the legs, sitting on the wide, leather-covered sill panel, and then standing up and out. Word of caution (not my issue)—wearing a short skirt may cause a scene.
Sans chrome, the elegant, sleek design has large rear air intakes for engine and brake cooling. The roof with a fixed glass panel slopes to the carbon fiber deck lid with a window over the 14.8 cubic feet of luggage space. Alas, McLaren has the engine sealed, so it is not visible through the tailgate glass. The rear fenders, gracefully bulging to encase the 21-inch wheels, blend into the tail with its ultra-thin LED lights and twin exhaust titanium tips ($460 option) that poke from the diffuser.
Badging is kept simple with ”McLaren” on the rear deck lid and the kiwi logo on the front end. No model indication, engine size or other needless information. Either you know what you are looking at, or you don’t.
Carbon Fiber, Knurled Aluminum and Leather
The interior is refined, luxurious space with the seats upholstered in hand-stitched Carbon Black Nappa leather. Dropping into the cocooned, carbon fiber monocell tub gives a feeling of being swaddled like a baby. The seats wrap and support with power adjustments for driver and passenger. Note about the power seat controls: they are located on the inside of the seats, tightly placed against the center console where they cannot be seen, so seat adjustments are a tactile, trial-and-error adventure.
The GT rides low at 4.3-inches but can be hydraulically raised to 5.1-inches by depressing a button on the dash, providing just enough extra clearance to not scrape the front air dam. This low ride height (the roof is a tidy 47.8-inches, or 3.98-feet off the ground) might indicate low visibility for the driver, but it is just the opposite. McLaren has done a great job with window size and exterior mirror design to provide ample sight lines.
The interior looked and smelled great, as there is nothing like leather almost everywhere. Front seat comfort was excellent, as was leg and headroom, making this a true GT ready for long road trips. Carrying the Jet Black color theme (one of 10 color combination options) throughout the cabin, carbon fiber and knurled aluminum accents gave a level of class. Alcantara headliner and pillars add a nice touch.
The soft touch dash, with a 12.3-inch TFT (Thin Film Transistor) screen, houses the instrument cluster that can display turn-by-turn navigation, phone calls and other information. There is no head-up display.
The 7.0-inch portrait touchscreen houses the dual-zone automatic climate control and the award-winning 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins 1,200-watt premium audio system. This bespoke system, custom designed for the GT’s tight confines, has SiriusXM, AM/FM/HD radio, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The McLaren GT comes with a standard safety systems of head, side and driver knee airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system, parking sensors, security alarm, engine immobilizer, electronic stability control, ABS brakes and hill hold. The fire extinguisher was a $300 option.
- New Vehicle – Three years/Unlimited Miles
- Scheduled Maintenance – Three years/Unlimited Miles
- Paint – Three years/Unlimited Miles
- Cosmetic Corrosion – Five years/Unlimited Miles
- Perforation Corrosion – 10 years/Unlimited Miles
A McLaren Extended Warranty can be purchased in 12- or 24-month periods to ensure the protection of a comprehensive McLaren warranty until the vehicle is 12 years old.
The 2023 McLaren GT has a base price of $208,490. The GT driven by Clean Fleet Report had $25,288 in options and packages for a total of $233,778. All pricing includes the mandatory $3,500 transportation and port fees.
Production of the GT ended in December 2023, so go here to find a McLaren dealer as the remaining few could be gone soon.
The good news is orders are being taken now for the 2024 McLaren GTS, with deliveries beginning in July.
Observations: 2023 McLaren GT
I have nothing but superlatives after 200 miles and a week in the 2023 McLaren GT. This is easily in the Top 5 of cars I have reviewed in the past 14 years at Clean Fleet Report. What a wonderful car!
You may be thinking a car with a $233,778 price had better be exceptional, which it is. But that would be selling the GT short. This well-engineered performance car has extraordinary finesse in a way that only a car that has supercar lineage.
Could the GT be your everyday driver? Would you trust yourself to stay within the speed limit when heading to the grocery store? Maybe a performance car of this type isn’t for everyone, but it would be rhetorical to ask: “Do I need this car, or do I want this car?” Yes, and Yes!
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Story and photos by John Faulkner.