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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Some of the front-engined GTs in this world do drive well. But they seldom feel like anything more than sharper, faster saloon cars. Different in degree, but not nature.

The McLaren GT turns and rides as a mid-engined supercar does. This, not the prodigious speed, is what makes it different from any example of the above – except, perhaps for the almost overly assertive Ferrari Roma.

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It’s agile, turns flat through corners, doesn't incline to understeer, gets its power down zealously. True, the softer front springs mean there's a fraction more delay in the turn-in than say a 570S. A fraction.

But once in a bend you notice the gorgeous steering – surely as good as any powered system anywhere today. Your turning angle builds progressively and the wheel rim's ever-animated, transparent about every bump, dip and change in grip. The whole car holds itself in perfect balance, letting all four tyres share the work, pivoting around your hips.

So it’s sharp…

Well yes, but the ride is also superb, especially in the softer damper setting. It doesn't crash into sharp bumps or vibrate or shudder on the corrugations. It cushions – better than most saloons. It filters the road while telling you what you want to know. It's even pretty low on tyre noise. Yet at speed it quashes pitch and heave.

And even though the GT is so eager through bends, the steering has a nice heft just off-centre and isn't too high-geared or nervous. Revised suspension geometry also adds stability. So it's an easy car to guide down a motorway lane, and through gentle A-road curves. This, with the level ride, helps make this a terrific chassis for long hauls as well as backroad blats.

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How about performance?

The engine asks for a pact, giving its best only if you're paying attention. Dribbling along behind a truck you'll find the transmission, if in auto, endlessly upshifting, dropping revs to a place where the V8 is just an unresponsive drone. Kickdown can be messy too.

So you switch to manual, use the solid metal paddles, and go in search of revs because below 2,500rpm there's one-elephant-two of turbo lag. From 3,000 it gets serious, building and building all the way to 8,200. In that whole range it's more progressive than the firm's supercar engines. Above 5,000 the surge is greedy for the horizon. It doesn’t provide the brain-scrambling madness of the 720S, but this just means a full-throttle event lasts longer and can be savoured the more.

Brakes, uniquely for a McLaren, were steel at the GT's launch. The tyre grip and stability allowed lots of stopping force, but the pedal wasn't as confident or as fade-proof as with McLaren's carbon ceramics. They used to be optional, but are now standard-fit to bring another slice of supercar to the driving experience.

While you’ll get a scrabble for traction at the driven rear wheels in sodden or cold conditions, Woking’s polite and industrious electronic helpers mean it all means for a frisson of excitement without giving you a fright. In the dry, the GT just propels forward fuss-free.

Variants We Have Tested

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