When McLaren re-entered the road car arena, it was on the back of the brand's strong motorsport connection. But not all buyers are after a road-going racer – some need room for luggage, and others want to enjoy their supercars on cross-country jaunts. That's where the 570GT comes in. With more luggage space than a Ford Focus, and a softer suspension than the 570S, the GT is designed to open McLaren up to buyers with dreams of practical, long distance motoring. Gizmag was on hand at the Australian launch to chat with designer Robert Melville.

At the core of the 570GT is the same 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V8 engine servicing the rest of McLaren's range. Just as it does in the 570S, the motor produces 419 kW (562 hp) at 7,500 rpm and a chunky 600 Nm (443 lb.ft) of torque, which is good enough for a 3.4 seconds sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph) on the way to a top speed of 328 km/h (204 mph).

Where the GT differs from its Sport Series stablemates is at the rear, where the fancy aerodynamic shapes on the rear deck have been replaced with a glass hatch that opens to the curb in the same fashion on the bootlid on a Jaguar E-Type. Combined with the 150-L (40-US gal) front compartment, the 220-L (58-US gal) rear compartment expands the car's luggage space to a Ford Focus-beating 370 L (98 US gal).

The hatch combines with a glass panoramic roof to create a look that, while unmistakably McLaren, is cleaner in profile than the aero-focused 650S, 675LT or P1.

According to McLaren Chief Designer, Robert Melville, creating that glass hatch created a number of challenges when it came to packaging. Everything from cooling and aerodynamics needed to be tweaked, but the problems didn't end there. Traditional bootlid frames and designs would have cut down on space and visibility, so McLaren was forced to bring the design to life with a carbon fiber frame.

"To keep visibility, to make it as optimized as possible, we had to use SMC carbon," Melville says. "It was the only way we could keep the frame so thin, because most manufacturers are building an 85 to 100 mm frame. It's a typical McLaren solution, using technology to overcome the problem."

As well as requiring a carbon fiber construction, the profile of the bootlid created another challenge for the 570GT's designers.

"Because we've got the glass roof and the glass tailgate, that acts as an inverted wing, so it actually creates lift. But there's a very simple solution to that," Melville said. "We had to extend the rear flick by 20 mm, so the car has got the identical downforce to the 570S."

"So you've got the increased stowage capacity, you've got some added weight, you've got the increased luxury – extended leather trim, soft close doors, powered steering column, etc," Melville adds, "but the performance is still there when you need it."

That performance is aided by a new cooling system, which uses three chimneys to pull hot air out from under the leather-lined luggage compartment. The chimneys work in tandem with the air intakes mounted at the front of the car, and airflow through the "tendon" on the door to make sure the turbo V8 delivers maximum performance at all times.

Opening the car's door reveals a cabin that's almost identical to the 570S interior that wowed us last year. Both cars share the same basic architecture, which means the P1-style digital dash, vertical Iris infotainment unit and low scuttle all carry over. Where the 570GT differs is in the way it feels. Thanks to its panoramic glass roof and tailgate, the cabin feels more open and airy.

We can also confirm that the car's MonoCell 2 carbon tub is much easier to get in and out of than the P1's high-silled design, which practically forced our 6-foot-6 journalist to detach his legs in order to sit inside. That makes it perfect for popstars who want to get out of the car without flashing the world's press, and ideal for high-rollers who don't want to rip their tailored suits when they arrive at the office.

As for the exterior design, we're big fans of the revised profile. In the metal it looks cleaner than the rest of the McLaren range, and the glass hatch has a certain "cool factor" about it. Maybe it's just the thought of loading up a few overnight bags and driving across the south of France in it that's got us excited, though.

Fans of the P1 won't be disappointed by the new shape either, because the car's horseshoe-shaped headlamps and aggressive rear diffuser carry over. This is still a sports car after all.

So, how much will Gizmag's ideal road-trip car cost you? Well, prices start at £154,000 (US$214,480), while Australian buyers will have to fork out at least AU$438,000 (US$332,000). That's without any option boxes ticked, so it's unlikely any cars will leave the factory at that price.

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