GRR

First Drive: McLaren 600 LT

25th September 2018
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

Did you know that Yoda’s speech in Star Wars is modelled on Hungarian? They start their sentences with a verb, as does the little green one.

mclaren_600_lt_25091806.jpg

McLaren gave us that little fact, alongside a drive of the new McLaren 600LT at the Hungaroring track outside Budapest.

The Hungaroring is a peach. The smallest circuit on the Formula 1 calendar, apart from the pit straight it is a series of quick turns, and a satisfying second-gear chicane. Ideal, then, for determining just how much more track-focused the 600LT is than its donor car, the 570S coupe.

McLaren names have got somewhat confusing lately: you have the Sports Series (540C, 570S, 570 GT, 570S Spider), the Super Series (675LT, coupe and Spider, 720S) and the Ultimate Series (P1 and GTR derivative and Senna). And you have the Speedtail (codenamed BP23 until recently), the three-seat, million-pound-plus crazy car that we’ll see pictures of shortly.

So the 600LT sits at the top of the Sports Series. The “600” bit refers to the horsepower, up 30PS from the 570S, and the “LT” stands for “Longtail”, a name denoting more power, better aero and sharper dynamics, which was first applied to the McLaren F1 GTR Longtail (nine produced), then the 675LT and now this, the 600LT.

Phew.

mclaren_600_lt_25091812.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091814.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091815.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091816.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091817.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091824.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091819.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091818.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091823.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091826.jpg

This latest model will be a limited run, marked not by a specific number but by time: deliveries commence in October and will run for 12 months. There will be a Spider version. But hurry: the waiting list is growing and believe us, you’re going to want one of these.

McLaren gave us five laps of the Hungaroring in a 570S first, to get our bearings but also, importantly, to benchmark the 600LT. You’d have to be pretty confident to allow the comparison and justification of the extra cost for the 600LT: at £185,100, it’s about 20 per cent dearer than the 570S.

But, oh! So worth it.

The 600LT is 100kg lighter than the 570S, with 23 per cent of parts changed or taken out. There is much more carbon-fibre, and inside leather is replaced by alcantara, partly for weight and partly for grip: the superb optional thin bucket seats have alcantara pads for cushioning and to hold you through the lateral forces during cornering.

The aerodynamic changes include a rear fixed wing, front splitter and extended rear diffuser, which together increase downforce to 100kg. The car is 47mm longer at the rear, hence the long tail name.

mclaren_600_lt_25091831.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091834.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091839.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091836.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091840.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091841.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091842.jpg

You can feel the change in handling characteristics immediately. Even trickling out of the pits at 30mph, the car feels tighter, planted, ready to fight. At speed, the changes are enormous, both in a straight line and through the corners. The torque curve is broader, there’s the increase in power combined with less weight, and moving the exhausts to above the tail has increased rear pressure. The suspension is stiffer, but not uncomfortable.

But two characteristics really stand out: the braking and the feedback. McLaren has taken the brake booster from the Senna for better pedal feel. And the stopping force is enormous. We left it horribly late to slow from fifth gear to second, to turn in for the right-hander at the end of the pit straight, and the car simply sank down on its haunches, no forward lurching, no intervention, not squirming. Just stopping.

The pace and delicacy of feedback through the corners is impressive: there is more feel from every major control, and quicker steering to help you stay on top of the movement. Pirelli has done bespoke tyres for this car and they help provide cornering speeds in excess of those of the 675LT, which, although outgoing, sits in the class above the 600LT.

mclaren_600_lt_25091849.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091845.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091850.jpg
mclaren_600_lt_25091859.jpg

On top of all that, this remains a good-looking car, not overdone on the track styling, but with enough menace to turn heads on the road, where it remains comfortable enough for daily driving.

We’d very much like to be one of the few owners who get their hands on a 600LT. If this is the way McLaren is going, we can’t wait for the next five years.

The Numbers

Engine: 3.8 petrol twin turbo V8

Transmission: seven-speed auto, rear-wheel-drive

PS/Nm: 600/620

0-62mph: 2.9sec

Top speed: 204mph

Price from: £185,100

  • McLaren

  • 600 LT

  • mclaren_600lt_28061811.jpg

    News

    "Longtail" returns – meet the hardcore McLaren 600 LT

  • mclaren-600lt-spider-main-review.jpg

    News

    Review: 2019 McLaren 600LT

  • mclaren-765lt-spider-main-goodwood-27072021.jpg

    News

    The 765LT Spider is the ultimate McLaren drop-top