When McLaren Automotive started making cars in earnest, it seemed like a really smart idea to use a carbon tub chassis. It allows for coupe and convertible models with little manufacturing fuss or weight penalty either way, it’s super strong and safe, and you can easily build metal or composite subframes onto it for specific applications.
Now we’re a few years down the line, the sub-80kg Monocell II chassis has become so ubiquitous that you’ll find it - or its eminently more serious cousin, the Monocage II - at the heart of everything from the entry-level 540C to the Ultimate Series’ latest addition, the Speedtail.
The new £163,000 McLaren GT’s tub is a new derivative, going by ‘MonoCell II-T’ to reflect the extra ‘Touring’ structure at its rear that makes the larger luggage bay possible. It’s still the same carbon tub at heart, though.
Then there are McLaren’s engines: the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 that started out in 2011 is starting to give way to the newer 4.0-litre, with the 720S, the Senna and now the GT all using the latter. They’re all related, though, and right from the 12C to the 600LT you’re looking at common parts, just as the GT uses the same raw M840T block as the 720S.
If you’re not fond of parts-sharing in any form you might find a reason or two to moan, but at least McLaren hasn’t gone full Lotus. The Hethel brand is infamous for making few tweaks here and there to existing platforms and hey presto! A new model, honest! McLaren, on the other hand, shares parts across models.
To lower costs, improve fuel economy and make the engine more compact for the sake of luggage space, the GT’s M840TE has a few mechanical changes. The turbos are switched for less potent, presumably smaller ones with low-friction internals. The compression ratio is higher, there are new pistons with revised crowns for a more efficient burn, the exhaust manifold has been switched to a cheaper and smaller ‘log’ type and the exhaust is a valved system. The GT has the lowest CO2 output of any McLaren despite not being the lightest or least powerful.
The upshot is that you can’t dial the M840TE up to 720S power with a simple engine map. You wouldn’t need to; 612bhp is meaty enough, thanks, but the potential is there if you wanted to swap parts.
How much of the £45,000 price difference between the two cars would you eat up in the process? You’d need to chat to your local McLaren parts department but we suspect it’s not worth it. If you need more speed, become a fighter jet pilot.
On the other hand you’ve got the 570GT; a car that costs just £4000 less than the full-banana GT. That’s less than the cost of many of McLaren’s optional extras for a more modern and more usable car with advanced new suspension and more luggage space, even if it is based around the same carbon cell. Why wouldn’t you pay that?
While McLaren tells us it has no plans to axe the 570GT just yet, against the new GT you’d have to argue the older car just doesn’t make sense unless weight is everything; a 570GT is typically around 130kg lighter than a new GT will be.
If we had a gigantic stack of notes conveniently totalling £163,000 (plus options), we just couldn’t see ourselves punting for the 570GT. Likewise, the 4.0-litre M840TE’s innate speed and efficiency linked to the extra practicality, comfort and a touring range of over 400 miles would collectively make us think hard about finding the extra £45,000 for a 720S. Y’know what? Thanks in part to all that shared DNA across the brand, I think the McLaren GT is the supercar bargain of the 2010s.