A couple of years ago, when McLaren put a grand tourer badge on its 570 to create the 570GT, our curiosity was roused. Sure, it was more comfortable than a regular 570, thanks to slightly more supple suspension, but it wasn’t a proper GT. At the time, we questioned whether this was just a precursor to a real GT, an opportunity to gauge customer reaction. All we got was a smile in response, but that was enough to confirm it. And then, voilà! It arrived — the new McLaren GT.
A proper GT should have the potential to be driven great distances, ideally with tailored luggage nestled in every available interior space. No one has driven the McLaren GT yet, so whether it meets the definition remains to be seen. We suspect it probably will.
“We’ll make the most compelling, best driving, lightest grand tourer in the segment,” Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren, told us recently. “The engineering we have lends itself to doing that.”
It will arrive in SA in October 2019 so if you are looking for a Mac to take you a bit further, get your cheque book out (does anyone still have a cheque book?).
If you can’t wait that long, you’re in luck because McLaren is busy implementing its Track 22 programme, which means lots of new models. The latest to arrive in SA are the open-top Spider versions of the 720S and 600LT, following hot on the wheels of the extreme Senna.
2. ASTON MARTIN
McLaren is not the only brand on the move. Aston Martin is going through a huge regeneration that officially started with the new DB11 but really goes back to the Vulcan, and James Bond car, the DB10, which never went into full production. The DB11 was followed by the new Vantage and, as the big volume car for Aston (volume is probably not the best word to use here), it has gone through a radical change. It’s evolved from being the gentleman’s sports tourer to being a proper sports car — one you can take to the track or charge through mountain passes in. It’s more brutal than before and has much more bite if you don’t keep it on a tight leash. It’s more engaging, more fun, more pure. In the fourth quarter of this year, the Aston Martin Racing version will arrive in SA and traditional types will be thrilled to see it has a manual gearbox.
And there’s more. We spoke with Marek Reichman, Aston’s chief creative officer, earlier this year as the company revealed not only the RB-003 Valhalla — jointly developed with its F1 partner Red Bull Racing — but the Valkyrie too. Add to that the Vanquish, a model that moves from being a GT to a proper sports car.
“You can see connections to Vantage and RB-003,” he told us, adding, “Not since the Lamborghini Miura has there been a really beautiful mid-engined car. Lamborghini has its own beauty while Ferrari has its technology.” Reichman is confident that Aston will combine all these elements in the new Vanquish.
But the big excitement is for the new DBX small SUV, which will make its formal debut at the end of 2019 before being launched in SA in 2020. It promises to deliver Aston Martin elegance with performance, off-road ability, and, importantly, a level of practicality that will suit our modern lifestyles.
If it’s more luxury than performance you are after, look no further than Rolls-Royce. This year the company has launched its first SUV — the lavish and surprisingly capable Cullinan, named after the famous diamond discovered in the small mining town near Pretoria. The Goodwood company has also launched a number of bespoke editions following the introduction of its darker Black Badge editions. Its most stately of sedans, the Phantom, continues to offer the highest level of craftsmanship and status.
For now though, Rolls is working on the next generation of its Ghost, expected in 2020. While some might describe it as its entry-level model, the term hardly seems appropriate. Our sources tell us that it will sit on the brand’s Architecture of Luxury platform that already underpins the Phantom and the Cullinan. Expect more similarity to the Phantom up front, and a curvaceous rear, possibly taking cues from the slightly sportier Wraith. The Ghost should retain the traditional V12 to ensure smooth travel of the power-reserve needle but it is likely to be the same 6.6-litre unit from BMW’s flagship 7 Series, the M760Li, providing maximum waftability with plenty of get-up-and-go horses.
With so much happening with these Brit belters, it’s good to know they have a new home through their SA distributors, Daytona Group. The company’s recently opened Melrose Arch facility is less of a showroom and more of a destination, offering not just access to models such as Aston Martin, McLaren, Rolls-Royce, and also the super-rare Pagani and brutal Brabus. You can also get a really good latte there — perfect to sip on as you ponder which brand and model you would like to give pride of place in your garage.
• From the July edition of Wanted 2019.