THE covid pandemic has been a milestone for the motor industry and performance brands like McLaren.
While individuals coped with invasive personal tests, McLaren has, like the auto-industry as a whole, been counting on suppliers and customers to keep it out of trouble and solvent for the post-pandemic period.
It's not been a smooth journey over the last two years and McLaren found the going tough as it took on creditors to secure funding and then put up its factory and office headquarters for sale to raise more funds, but there are signs of stability emerging and a new business plan is being followed.
McLaren has an international footprint despite its UK origins.
The company operates a tub-production centre near Sheffield and a test centre in Spain as well as the main assembly plant outside Woking in Surrey together with strategically placed sales hubs around the world with a combined workforce approaching 3,000 people, said Adam Gron, McLaren's PR manager.
He said the last two years had tested the business but it had also learned lessons from it and is planning recovery and working out of the recession caused by Covid and the shortage of component parts, so more will be sourced from within the UK.
With changes planned to the models' line up and the coming of electric power in future a new McLaren range will be developed for the second half of this decade.
Being engineering led, the business puts a lot of investment into training and encouraging apprenticeships in specialist fields in conjunction with industry and government departments.
"We have adjusted our workflows and building patterns and become more innovative for the business," he said.
"This will put us in a better position going forward and when we are ready to launch new models."
It has also secured £550 millionof new funding to take it forward out of the slowdown and expects to return to sales of about 5,000 cars annually by 2024.
One of the keys to unlocking that planned recovery is the GT coupe, itself a development creation of the more hyper-expensive exoticars from the Woking factory.
Aerodynamics and engineering refined for the special edition supercar Ultimate Series has been applied to the McLaren GT and to great effect.
At its core is a racing developed carbonfibre tub giving tremendous strength with little weight and to which a beefy twin-turbo 4.0V8 engine has been bolted behind and supported by fully independent wishbone suspension with sophisticated steering and brakes.
As a result it's one of the lightest supercars on sale today with a very useful power to weight ratio which makes it easier to handle and enjoy.
The engine has been uprated from what came before so it's more responsive and develops its punch at lower revs which on the road means it has explosive getaway from standstill, is ultra-swift overtaking and cruises at very low engine speed on motorways with over 200mph possible where permitted.
It makes a wonderful growling noise upon starting and that develops into a healthy roar on the road with some delightful crisp crackles when down-changing.
Push-button automatic gearbox selection is failsafe and the changes are quick and clean whether accelerating or slowing and a driver can really exploit the ratios if they wish without incurring jerkiness to the changes.
The McLaren GT's steering is excellent with low upfront weight and an electro-hydraulic system which does not insulate but rather informs the driver of where the wheels are pointing. Add to that superbly balanced massive disc brakes which can sharply or subtlely slow the car and you have get enormous composure created in the car.
On twisting and hilly roads it stayed firmly planted without any wavering and faithfully went where it was pointed without any drama or slip so it inspired confidence through every corner.
An on-track test of full braking from 120mph was really impressive and showed up the power and precision of the carbon ceramic discs with six-piston front calipers and four-piston rears. Awesome.
All this engineering is wasted if a car does not ride well over normal roads and the McLaren GT did not squander its speed for sophistication.
The fully independent suspension of the GT does not have the full technical refinements of its more expensive stablemates but it uses longer travel springs to soak up bumps and very well chosen damper rates to modify rebound.
Add to this the simple but well shaped and supporting seats for driver and passenger and you have a grand-tourer in the finest tradition, but I did wish their powered adjustment controls were better placed for subsequent adjustment on the move if desired.
Looking at the driver's display the dominant speedometer and rev counter are clear but other gauges are small as is the savnav.
Heating and ventilation is simple and efficient, the in-cabin oddments room is very modest but you have luggage space front and back which combine to give useful capacity.