For former national swimmer Russell Ong, the McLaren GT could not be a more perfect match for his lifestyle, and indeed, his personality.
Even before stepping through the McLaren GT’s signature dihedral doors, Ong was smitten by its sleek good looks, hailing its design as “downright stunning, turning heads whether stationary or in motion. Curves, angles and vents are in all the right places for me”.
That’s no surprise, since the McLaren GT is designed with all the ‘form follows function’ aerodynamics-informed styling cues familiar to every McLaren, but also with a healthy nod toward sophisticated, timeless styling.
Though the McLaren GT is blessed with flowing, yet aggressive lines from its long silhouette, it won’t take you too long to notice the high-tech design elements that are a McLaren hallmark. For example, the taillights aren’t just gorgeous to behold, their slim profile also allows for improved heat dissipation from the engine located nearby.
Quipped Ong, “The McLaren GT is more visually pared down compared to McLaren’s other offerings, I like that it is refined, but yet delivers uncompromised driving performance.”
And the McLaren GT certainly didn’t disappoint on that front: “The McLaren GT is unlike any other in its class, as most simply sail across the asphalt and waft around corners, but nudge the McLaren GT in the right direction and she will pleasantly surprise you with 630Nm of torque accompanied by the glorious roar of a V8,” he enthused.
That V8 he’s referring to is a 4-litre twin-turbo, producing a total of 620hp developed especially for the McLaren GT and its unique needs. Specifically, the seemingly polar opposites of daily suitability, while still being able to deliver the performance required of a McLaren supercar.
The McLaren GT has the fastest 0-200km/h time amongst its rivals at 9 seconds, and 95 percent of the aforementioned 630Nm of torque is available from 3,000 to 7,250rpm. The McLaren GT’s mid-mounted engine (between the front and rear axles) also allows for an inherently neutral chassis balance and its hydraulic steering setup makes driving it quickly an effortless, intuitive experience.
That’s not even mentioning how its carbon fibre chassis allows it to have a kerb weight of 1,530kg, a low weight its rivals can only dream about. And unlike many of its rivals, the McLaren GT has outstanding cargo space, a point that was carefully engineered just for the supercar.
The engine is positioned low in the chassis, which not only aids in balance but also allows for optimal packaging, allowing the rear luggage compartment to be as large as possible.
Said Ong, “Corners are tackled easily, with little to no slipping of the rear end, which surprised me given its 4m-odd length.”
But perhaps what he most appreciated about the McLaren GT is its ability to go from supercar to practical runabout (with a heavy emphasis on “run”) without missing a beat, particularly useful since one of Ong’s biggest loves is wakesurfing.
He describes the McLaren GT’s class-leading luggage space of 570 litres as “priceless” (420 litres in the rear and 150 litres under the bonnet), allowing him to go from running errands to a wakesurfing session at the marina, all the while carrying his board in the rear luggage compartment.
Plus, with the convenience of a fastback-like tailgate opening, the rear loading aperture of the McLaren GT is large enough that even awkwardly shaped items like a golf bag—or a wakesurfing board—can be stowed with ease, while out front a pair of overnight bags can be stored.
That rear luggage space can be optionally lined with Superfabric, a space-age (literally, since it’s used in spacecraft) textile that’s not only extra-tough and attractive to look at, it’s also highly technical, fitting perfectly with the McLaren ethos of high-tech beauty.
Adding even more to the McLaren GT’s daily suitability is its high ground clearance, enhanced still further with a nose-lift system. This allows the McLaren GT to clear even the tallest humps and ramps, and with a maximum 130mm of underbody clearance, it’s not too far off most luxury saloons.
Small wonder, then, that the McLaren GT fits Ong’s active lifestyle and his personality perfectly, the ideal blend of elegance and sportiness, along with the same relentlessness, drive and hunger for perfection that so defined his career as a national sportsman.
But more than that, it’s how the McLaren GT is almost a perfect mirror of Ong’s personality. He has successfully broken boundaries, in his life as a national sportsperson and now, as he attempts to push even beyond that with his stint in acting.
Now, the McLaren GT is also no stranger to that, breaking the conventional mould of a supercar by adding a healthy dose of daily suitability and practicality to the already-established McLaren values of speed, power and beauty.
“McLaren has delivered a supercar experience in the wonderfully practical form of the GT,” Ong concluded.