The Ferrari Portofinos and the Aston Martin DB11s of the world may have something to worry about now

McLaren promised to roll out a mid-engined grand tourer, and when McLaren makes a promise, you know it’s going to deliver. It didn’t take long for the British supercar brand to come through on its word because the McLaren GT is here, and it looks every bit like the performance grand tourer the folks over at Woking, England said it would be. Classifications notwithstanding, the GT is more potent than the 570GT and more practical than the 650S. It’s also as light as a feather, at least when you compare it to other grand tourers of its ilk. Combine its weight with its power and performance capabilities, and McLaren could be onto something when it described the GT as a superlight supercar with perception-altering potential.

2020 McLaren GT Power-to-Weight Comparison

How Does the McLaren GT's Weight Stack Up Against Other Great Models?
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There are a number of ways you can compare performance cars. Even though its largely subjective, others use visual comparisons to determine which model looks better than the other. For the most part, though, power and performance numbers are almost always the go-to figures to determine their potency on the road and, in some cases, the track. These comparisons can revolve around horsepower figures, torque numbers, acceleration times, and overall top speed. Those are useful ways to compare one performance car from another, but they’re also not the only measurements that you can use. A car’s weight is another important basis of comparison. Not only does it tell you how light or heavy your car is, but it can also identify certain power- and performance-based metrics that you can use to determine which performance car suits your preference.

How Does the McLaren GT's Weight Stack Up Against Other Great Models?
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I’m bringing this up in light of McLaren’s description of its new GT model as a “super light supercar.” It’s one thing to throw meaningless plaudits around for the sake of grabbing attention; it’s another thing to back up those claims. Does the McLaren GT fit the mold of a super light supercar or is it simply a case of McLaren serving up plates of hyperbole to get people to notice the GT? I looked into the actual curb weight of some of the GT’s expected rivals to see if there’s truth to McLaren’s boasts. As for the results, well, it might be best to throw out some numbers.

Before that, let’s set some parameters and define key terms for this comparison. One of the most important terms you’ll see here is “curb weight.”

Basically, curb weight is the weight of a car without any occupants or cargo adding on to that weight.

It’s different from other terms you’re probably familiar with, including “dry weight,” which is defined as the weight of a vehicle without occupants, cargo, and consumables, or more commonly referred to as fluids. These fluids come in different forms, including fuel, engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and washer fluid. For this comparison test, we’re going to use the curb weight of the McLaren GT and its expected rivals while acknowledging the number of factors that can affect a supercar’s curb weight, including the size of its fuel tank.

How Does the McLaren GT's Weight Stack Up Against Other Great Models?
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So, here’s what we found out when we compared the McLaren GT’s curb weight with three potential grand touring-billed rivals and two fellow McLaren models. As you can see, McLaren’s claims have some weight — no pun intended — to them. The GT (3,374 pounds) is lighter than the Porsche 911 Turbo S (3,571 pounds), the Ferrari Portofino (3,668 pounds), and the Aston Martin DB11 (4,134 pounds). Does this automatically make the McLaren GT a better grand tourer than its rivals? Far from it, but at least as far curb weight is concerned, McLaren isn’t blowing smoke up our butts. It’s worth noting, too, that the only two cars that are lighter than the GT are fellow McLarens: the 570GT (3,314 pounds) and the 720S (3,161 pounds). The difference is both McLarens aren’t billed as grand tourers; they’re performance-oriented models, including the 720S, which, for all intents and purposes, is a bona fide supercar.

We know how weight affects a supercar’s performance abilities, but why is it also an important specification for grand tourers.

This can be answered by knowing that grand tourers are models that are designed and developed for high-speed and long-distance driving.

We’re not just talking about speeds in short bursts, either. We’re talking about high speeds that can be maintained smoothly during long-distance driving. Since grand tourers are basically the child of a performance car and a luxury car, the faster a car can go as smoothly as it can is one of the most important attributes of a GT car. It just so happens that the lighter the car, the smoother the ride and the more nimble it is on the road.

How Does the McLaren GT's Weight Stack Up Against Other Great Models?
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I touched on the power, too, because let’s face it. A grand tourer needs to have a potent engine that can deliver performance-car-levels of power to justify its GT label. It might as well be a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord if it can’t do that. To McLaren’s credit, the 620-horsepower GT isn’t just powerful; it’s also more powerful than two of its rivals: the 580-horsepower 911 Turbo S and the 591-horsepower Portofino. Only the 630-horsepower DB11 is more powerful, but, remember, the Aston Martin uses a 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 engine that contributes to it weighing almost 700 pounds more than the McLaren GT. See how complicated this can get?

Often times, automakers, specifically those who build grand tourers, sports cars, and supercars, use a different measurement to gauge the performance of a vehicle as a whole, one that’s independent of the vehicle’s actual size. This is where power-to-weight ratio comes in. While it’s true that automakers often quote power-to-weight ratios at their peak value and not their actual value, it has still become a reliable metric to determine a car’s performance abilities.

How Does the McLaren GT's Weight Stack Up Against Other Great Models?
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Naturally, I calculate the power-to-weight ratios of the McLaren GT and that of its rivals to see which one returns the highest figure. Lo, and behold, but, once again, the McLaren GT came on top with a power-to-weight (in pounds) ratio of 0.1838. The closest to approach that number was the Porsche 911 Turbo S with a power-to-weight ratio of 0.1624. The Ferrari Portofino checks in at 0.1611 while the heaviest of the bunch, the Aston Martin DB11, posted a 0.1524. Not surprisingly, the lightest and most powerful car on this list — the McLaren 720S — came out on top with a power-to-weight ratio of 0.2246. Then again, the 720S is a supercar.

So what do all these numbers mean for the McLaren GT, other than validation for McLaren?

In so many words, the GT has the makings of a segment-defining grand tourer.

It has the style, the power, and the performance capabilities to properly serve the hype it’s been given. And all the while, I didn’t even mention all the trunk space it has. Yes, there’s now a McLaren with more trunk space than an actual sedan. Who knew that could happen?

Well, McLaren did.

McLaren GT vs competition
McLaren GT Porsche 911 Turbo S Aston Martin DB11 Ferrari Portofino McLaren 570GT McLaren 720S
Curb Weight: 3,373 pounds 3,571 pounds 4,134 pounds 3,668 pounds 3,314 pounds 3,161 pounds
Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat-six engine 5.2-liter twin-turbo V-12 engine 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8
Output: 620 horsepower 580 horsepower 630 horsepower 591 horsepower 562 horsepower 710 horsepower
Torque 465 pound-feet 553 pound-feet 516 pound-feet 561 pound-feet 443 pound-feet 568 pound-feet
Power to Weight Ratio (HP/pound): 0.1838 0.1624 0.1524 0.1611 0.1696 0.2246

Further reading

How Does the McLaren GT's Weight Stack Up Against Other Great Models?
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Read our full review on the 2020 McLaren GT.

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 McLaren 720S.

2017 McLaren 570GT High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the McLaren 570GT.

2017 Aston Martin DB11 Exterior High Resolution
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Read our full review on the 2019 Aston Martin DB11.

2018 Ferrari Portofino High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2018 Ferrari Portofino.

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo.

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