With travel still on hold, long drives in the McLaren GT 4.0 around Singapore are the next best thing

The McLaren GT is not your typical sports car. As the initials suggest, this is a Gran Tourer, a sports car designed for long journeys and with a bit more space all around. In other words, it is a bigger and more practical sports car.

There was a growing group of potential customers big enough that McLaren decided to produce the GT — which is a significant departure for the British brand. While designing and building the GT, McLaren has also produced the most fuel-efficient car in its range.

In terms of looks, it is fairly obvious to see this is not a compact, pocket-rocket sports car synonymous with the McLaren brand. But that is not to say it is any less appealing on the eyes. Quite the opposite. Having recently reviewed the McLaren 540S, the GT is equally as impressive in the looks department. One standout feature is the rear 21in wheels that are the largest ever fitted to a McLaren. Sporty and chunky, they are also shod with bespoke Pirelli tyres to reduce vibration and minimise noise.

took a few selfies with the car and it looked good from all angles. Its appearance is actually inspired by the McLaren Speedtail, an amazing-looking hypercar that will be launched soon. I try to think of a McLaren design I did not like but am struggling to even pick out one that slightly disappointed me.

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The GT is powered by a 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 powerplant that sits in the back of the car, where the boot should be. The engine pushes out a massive 612bhp of horsepower and 630Nm of sublime torque which is very powerful by anyone’s standards. This raw energy comes from the rear wheels via a seven-speed gearbox and will get you from 0 to 100kph in just 3.2 seconds.

One criticism of sports cars is their low bodies. This means their front spoilers often scrape the road going over the occasional speed bump or steep car park ramp. As a result, McLaren has raised the height of the GT so it is the same as a Mercedes-Benz C-Class. This might be a small change but it makes a big difference to the way you can drive it. The rear of the car has minimalist tail lights, an integrated fixed rear wing and twin exhaust pipes.

It is nice and roomy inside the GT. While it was a tight squeeze for my 6ft 4in cousin, most of us shorter folks will get plenty of leg space. There are also some handy compartments including a pouch just below the steering wheel for storing essential items like your mobile phone. It is plush inside the GT but not what you would call luxurious. Although it may have a more spartan and minimalist look, you also get some soft Napa leather, comfortable bucket seats and a very cool Bowers & Wilkins 12-speaker audio system. However, by paying a bit more for McLaren Special Operations (MSO), you can get a be spoke interior that is plusher.

A McLaren review would be incomplete without mentioning its gull wings, which it refers to as dihedral. Not only do they look amazing when fully raised, but the process of opening them now takes less effort. I do not think I will ever get bored by seeing a car door go up, not out. It is real supercar territory and a feat of engineering that it can be done so effortlessly. The only downside is you have to be a bit more selective about parking spots, as I could not fully open the door when I parked too close to a neighbouring car.

On the plus side, you do get a generous amount of boot space in the front of the car, going so deep you can put a golf bag in it. McLaren says you can also put a couple of golf bags on top of the engine compartment. What you would be doing with three golf bags when the car only accommodates two people is a mystery but you get the point about having lots of space.

The drive itself was raw and energetic, yet smooth and road-hugging at the same time. The McLaren GT comes with a MonoCell II-T structure which plays a big part in this sturdiness that never falters at high speeds. When you really put your foot down, you have full confidence in the braking which reigns in all that power just as smoothly. With its looks and speed, this latest addition to the McLaren family clearly won my instant approval.

McLaren GT 4.0
$959,000 without COE
Engine: 3,994cc, V8 twin-turbocharged
Power/torque: 612 bhp/630 Nm
Fuel consumption: 10.8L/100km
0 to 100 kph: 3.2 seconds
Top speed: 326kph