If, like me, you like cars and are a fan of the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy, you may well agree that he only got one thing wrong – the Batmobile.
Making its debut in Batman Begins, it looked like a cross between a Lamborghini and a tank. Nolan later admitted he originally built the concept model out of Play-Doh ending up with a crude design that looked “more like a croissant than a car”.
If you ask me he ended up with something that looked more like a giant Tonka Toy – a car lacking in finesse that was more fist than glove. More spurious than notorious.
Any self-respecting crime fighting super hero like Batman should drive a powerful car that matches his powerful personality.
Something dark, mysterious and moody that oozes wealth, physical ability and style. Something elegant. Something sophisticated. Something like no other.
You have to wonder then, if Nolan was making those films now, whether he would consider modelling Bruce Wayne’s ride around a car that has all these qualities in abundance – the McLaren GT.
Having been behind its wheel, I can’t help but think it’s the closest I will ever come to driving the Batmobile.
That our strikingly beautiful test model was black certainly helped build that feeling, although to be specific it was Black Ingot in colour – a sumptuous black with added glitter which meant the bodywork ever so slightly glistened in the sunshine as you got closer.
It killed it.
The silhouette of the GT with its fluid to-die-for lines alone looks like a work of art, something a connoisseur from that world would own; you can easily imagine Bruce Wayne hopping in and out of it.
Not unlike our superhero himself, this super car is a monster. It does 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds with a top speed of 202.6 mph. That’s enough to leave any Joker in the dust.
The successor to the 570GT, the two-seater GT does everything its predecessor did, just better. It’s prettier, lighter, faster and a heck load more practical.
I drove its elder sibling the 720s last year – a car I absolutely loved, although my colleague Colin Goodwin argued with me over our Christmas lunch not unreasonably argued that it was ‘a pointless car’, because you ‘can do absolutely nothing in it’.
Well, that’s where the GT comes in. The whole point of it is that this is a car you can go places in it.
This car has a lightweight stiff carbon fibre structure and the same 4.0-litre twin turbo charged V8 engine (albeit with smaller turbos) and Proactive Chassis Control suspension as the 720s. What that means is McLaren claims it’s the lightest, quickest accelerating car in its class.
Not everything is borrowed though; some 60%c of its parts are new.
Be under no misapprehension, this is a standalone car in its own right.
Normal conventions will have you believe that light, mid-engined performance cars can’t accommodate you and your luggage for longer adventures. But McLaren’s literature boasts the GT has been engineered for continent crossing capability.
How? Well that engine has been lowered to allow for more luggage space – a whopping 570-litres.
That little bit more extra space under the hood and a surprising new amount in the full-length glazed powered tailgate boot – where I reckon you could fit a set of golf clubs with space to spare – goes a hell of a long way. You could certainly get two carry on flight cabin cases in the front bonnet (the 720s was more like 1.5).
Hop inside the luxuriously leather trimmed, wonderfully stitched (and ridiculously quiet) cabin and there’s an immediate feeling of space combined with opulence courtesy of soft grain leather and cashmere. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still cosy and intimate, even if a bit more roomier inside the cabin, but there’s 180 degrees of visibility thanks to the glass wraparound that enhances your senses as you strap in.
The instrument pack and remarkably fast SatNav all sit on one screen on a middle stalk and are remarkably easy to negotiate compared to other cars in this class.
Step on the accelerator in neutral and you’ll hear a stirring exhaust note engine that is (obviously) loud and undeniably a McLaren, which will whet your appetite for the V8 engine.
The GT grip and traction is also everything you could hope for from a McLaren but more so. This car is undeniably agile and turns to precisely where you point it with gorgeous powered steering.
So, being mid-engined, light and able to grip the road so well, the GT was perfect on twisty roads. Because the car is lighter than other Grand Tourers I’ve laid my hands on – I felt was able to better steer into bends fast before stepping down on the accelerator and leaving them at lightening pace.
It’s worth also noting the nose has been lifted and the ride height raised. So around town it had decent ground clearance meaning it cushions over speed bumps, potholes and niggles better than you’d imagine.
A word to the wise though, in this car it’s so very easy to reach the speed limit before you know it; your driving licence will thank you later for employing the car’s deft speed limiting tech – which saw me relaxing into the ride more when activated.
Visibility is good but there are blind spots towards the rear, and other drivers might not be expecting the pace you may be about to move at, so you must give them both space and fair warning.
Thrilling, refined, engaging… this ride is no less than superb.
I don’t think I could ever tire of looking in the wing mirrors and seeing those sculpted rear haunches housing the vital air intakes. They are so very… Batman.
All it’s really missing is heavy armour plating and a battery of assorted weapons at your fingertips.
Was there nothing I didn’t like about it? Well, for one thing – you have to press down the bonnet firmly with a click that can’t help but leave finger prints on the shiny paintwork. It’s more annoying than you’d think. And there’s some obvious missing ‘extras’ that aren’t an option – like a 360 bird’s eye camera view, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and adaptive emergency braking that come as standard on much cheaper cars nowadays.
But then I guess, given everything else, these are things you’d happily live with or without.
Because there’s no doubt in my mind, this is the best car I have driven all year. If you love driving, you should try and get your hands on one.
The sacrifices it makes for practicality and comfort compared with the 720s are perfectly reasonable – be in no doubt, you are driving an exceptional car.
Fuel consumption is 23.7mpg with a max 72-litre tank, so you will need deep pockets. But I would give anything to drive this motor over the Italian Alps. It feels like it’s destined to be driven to such places and beyond.
With a starting price of £163,000 – the first option I’d look at would be swapping the steel brakes for McLaren’s carbon ceramics and the Bowers & Wilkins hi-fi our test model had me drooling over – it’s certainly for the wealthy.
But if that’s the price I must pay to feel like Batman, then I’m all in.
After all, it’s not the car underneath, but what I do in it that defines me.