Overnight express to the mountains (McLaren GT)

Germany’s motorway network is 13192 kilometres in size. 13192 kilometres of road, mostly consisting of 5 different layers and measuring up to 90 cm in height from the road surface to the substructure. On a train journey to Frankfurt, I read up a little on the subject. When do you ever think about what exactly you are driving over when you are relaxed or less relaxed on roads without a speed limit? At least for 2/3 of these 13,192 kilometres there are no speed limits. On that day, I will use about 400 kilometres of the motorway network – from a mathematical point of view, about 266 kilometres should be free of limits. A quick glance out of the train window at a passing petrol station – Super Plus: 2.29€ – my thoughts of unlimited motorway sections somewhat dampened.

But why Frankfurt in the first place? And what is the point of reading up on materials science?

A car from Surrey, England, is waiting for me in the banking town on the Main. It goes by the abbreviation GT and, with 620 hp, is exactly the right vehicle to cover the next 400 kilometres of motorway towards the Allgäu mountains.

When the keys to the McLaren fall into my hands at around 15:30, I start to look forward to the coming days. When I look at the weather forecast, however, this is mixed with some displeasure. North of the Alps, continuous rain – from 1100 metres above sea level it even turns into snow. Not exactly ideal conditions for the rear-wheel drive sports car. As I roll the first few metres through Frankfurt, past the headquarters of various banks, thoughts about the weather recede into the back of my mind for the time being. At the same time, I feel the desire to see the current scenario from the outside – what will it look like when an orange McLaren GT rolls through the jungle of concrete, neon signs and past the countless kiosks? The thought occupies my mind right up to the slip road of motorway 3, with the Frankfurt skyline in the rear-view mirror and almost 400 kilometres of asphalt on the A3 and A7 ahead of me.

The McLaren GT is almost 4 years old, but both the exterior and interior of the design look as if it was released yesterday. During the first short break somewhere near Würzburg, I briefly take the time to look more closely at the design of the British car. The sharp, yet aerodynamically flowing lines quickly become apparent. “Everything is for a reason” emphasises the British sports car manufacturer, because nothing in the GT’s design is without purpose – everything has a reason. Invisible to the eye, the airflow is directed through precise shapes, curves and channels in and past the body.

The vehicle’s broad and striking presence are emphasised at the front by the so-called “hammerhead line”, which runs horizontally across the nose and draws the eye to the sides of the vehicle.

In the (optional carbon) front splitter, this line is found in a slightly more pointed design. This ensures that the highest aerodynamic pressure is generated in the centre and the airflow is directed under the vehicle and into four low-temperature radiator ducts in the front bumper.

In the meantime, the floodgates of the sky open again a little, but the view of the Briton captivates me so much that I put up with the drops. In keeping with the theme, I turn my attention to the rear. The large glass tailgate, starting at the B-pillar, is reminiscent of a raindrop – coincidences do happen. But it is precisely this shape that allows for an incredibly long and large storage space, 570 litres to be precise. At least if you include the front luggage compartment with its 150 litres. More than a current BMW 3-series.

At the same time, the engine sends me signals and makes it clear that “this was only the beginning”.

At around 7 pm the sun sets behind the cloud cover. The grey turns to dark blue. The rain stops. Time to feel the power of the British car with its 4.0 litre V8 mid-engine for the first time. In second gear, I press the accelerator down to the floor plate for the first time. The systems regulate for a short moment, but at the latest after the gear change you feel the entire 620 hp and 630 Newton metres. The 1530 kilograms then accelerate from 100 to 200 km/h in 5.3 seconds. The GT easily shakes that off its sleeve. At the same time, the engine sends me signals and makes it clear that “this was just the beginning”. Our test vehicle is equipped with winter tyres from Pirelli, and the limit is “already” at 275 km/h. In the summer months, however, the GT goes over 320 km/h. 326 km/h to be exact.


The scenery that builds up on the last kilometres of the A7 is reminiscent of a film. Complete darkness and only a few cones of light still moving south at around 11 pm. The speed coupled with the darkness and the camera backpack in the passenger footwell – it reminds me of scenes from the film “Nightcrawler”. If Jake Gyllenhall had also bet on the McLaren GT, he would undoubtedly have been the first journalist on the scene every time.

Shortly before my night stop in Kempten, I have to refuel again. The second time, by the way. At the petrol station “Allgäuer Tor” I fill the GT’s tank with another 60 litres to be prepared for tomorrow’s stage into the Allgäu mountains.

The next morning the motto is: don’t start too early! Too great is the fear that the mountain passes of the Allgäu have not yet been cleared of snow and too great the fear of cold deformation.

After driving through the short tunnel before the Riedberg Pass, however, I quickly notice how well the systems in the McLaren work. Even on wet, cold roads, the McLaren quickly develops confidence in the corners, despite the mid-engine, which only sends its power to the rear wheels.

On the way to the top of the pass, the snow flurry gets heavier and heavier, and the colour and design look almost like a monument in every car park – befitting the masterstroke of what the English have achieved in terms of design and technology. But apart from the impressive driving performance, one must also mention the GT’s suitability for everyday use. Over the past 450 kilometres, we have noticed that the British car can also be comfortable.

At the top of the Riedberg pass, the goal seems to have been reached. Whereas the actual goal, as cheesy as it may sound, was once again the way. Each of the almost 500 kilometres could be enjoyed to the full. Whether on the motorway, mountain roads or in Frankfurt city traffic – the McLaren GT is a real all-rounder. But the British car feels most at home on (German) motorways. Nowhere else can the full power of the McLaren be unleashed.

McLaren GT

Engine: 4.0L V8 Twin-Turbo Power: 620 PS @ 7,500 rpm Weight: 1530 kilograms Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 3.2 s V-Max: 326 km/h