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First drive: McLaren 600LT coupe. Image by McLaren.

First drive: McLaren 600LT coupe
McLaren spreads the Longtail love to the Sports Series, resulting in the sublime new 600LT coupe.

 



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McLaren 600LT coupe

5 5 5 5 5

While a lot is being said about the heritage of McLaren's LT (Long Tail) name, it matters not what the British sports car company has called its most driver-focused model in the Sports Series yet. Put simply, the 600LT is a phenomenal driving machine that plugs its driver into the experience without terrifying them in the process. It's possibly our favourite car yet to come from McLaren.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: McLaren 600LT Coupe
Pricing: 185,500
Model tested: McLaren 600LT Coupe
CO2 emissions: 276g/km (VED Band 151-170: 515 in year one, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 23.2mpg
Top speed: 204mph
0-62mph: 2.9 seconds
Power: 600hp at 7,500rpm
Torque: 620Nm at 5,500-6,500rpm
Minimum weight: 1,247kg

What's this?

The latest McLaren Sports Series model, but, despite a clear link to its siblings, the new 600LT is a rather different and very special beast. In summary, there's less weight, more power, more downforce, limited production and lots and lots of chassis updates, helping the two-seat coupe live up to that 'Long tail' billing. And though it references the sublime 1997 McLaren F1 GTR racer, it's closer in concept to the McLaren 675LT.

First things first: yes, the tail is a little longer on the 600LT (in comparison to the 570S it's based on), though really not by very much. Nonetheless, the carbon fibre bodywork has been considerably changed, in a bid to create more downforce, save weight and, well, look more menacing. You can't have missed the big rear wing and diffuser beneath. Those are balanced, aerodynamically and visually, by a low and long front splitter - and there's a flat carbon fibre floor underneath. The result is about 96kg in weight savings and up to 100kg of downforce (at 155mph). Oh, and you may have also noticed the two exhaust outlets protruding from above the engine cover at the back, ahead of the rear spoiler. That positioning saves weight and helps the 600LT find its own (very loud) voice.

That exhaust is bolted to a logical development of McLaren's M838TE engine, a twin-turbocharged V8, producing 600hp at 7,500rpm and 620Nm of torque from 5,500-6,500rpm, making it the most powerful unit ever employed by a Sports Series model. For the 600LT, it borrows a more efficient coolant pump from the Super Series and the engine mounts are stiffer than in the rest of the Sports Series, as are those for the transmission. The familiar seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox is employed, using Ignition Cut in Sport mode to enable faster gear changes (and an audible 'crack' in the brief moment this happens) and Inertia Push when in the Track setting to help deliver continuous hard acceleration. Apparently, there's a 'burnout' function coded into the calibration software, along with the expected launch control. Use that and the 600LT will hit 62mph from rest in an incredible 2.9 seconds, 124mph in 8.2 seconds and 186mph in 24.9 seconds. Supercar numbers by any measure.

To make the most of this rather senior performance, the chassis has been suitably upgraded with forged aluminium double wishbone suspension from the Super Series, stiffer anti-roll bars and an 8mm reduction in ride height the headline details. The carbon brakes use a special brake booster inspired by that of the McLaren Senna, too.

Naturally, all this goodness does not come cheap, and yet buyers have the option to upgrade their 600LTs with all manner of tempting extras, including Clubsport packages from MSO. Really, you should look at the price as merely a starting point. Hopefully, owners of the 600LT will go out and use it as intended, despite the restriction on production. McLaren won't put a figure on the number that will be manufactured, but has stated that the 600LT will be made for one year only - and even at that, it has to fit in with the rest of the Sports Series production schedule.

How does it drive?

The McLaren 540S and 570S below the 600LT in the line-up are hardly laggards, are they? Neither are those Sports Series brethren sloppy in the corners. So the fact that it takes just a few minutes behind the wheel of the 600LT to realise that it demands closer comparison with the 720S than it does the 570S says a lot about this car. Trundling down the pitlane it's clear that the 600LT is louder than its siblings, with more vibration from the engine making its way through to the cabin and tiny movements of the car over the smooth tarmac betraying the ultra-stiff suspension set-up. That reduction in refinement immediately sets the tone for the 600LT; this is a car for driving, not ambling around in.

Once the bespoke Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres are warmed up, they find incredible grip in the dry. Indeed, the 600LT's front axle is remarkably dependable, and those tyres clearly feed back to the driver's hands (via an electro-hydraulic power steering system) when the high limits are approaching. But it's no knife-edge of grip; instead, the tyres slowly slip away, giving you lots of time to react and adjust the throttle accordingly. Not, you understand, that understeer is the order of the day here. It's just that you soon discover how much you can lean on the front tyres on the entry to corners that it becomes second nature to use that ability to the full.

Through a high-speed direction change, the 600LT is astounding in its neutrality and under heavy braking it is utterly stable (it really shows up the 570S in that regard - at very high speeds on track). Never does it feel out of its depth on a properly fast Formula One circuit. And yet, push a little harder at the apex of a corner than is prudent and it is also playful, glad to indulge the driver in serious oversteer if the space and skill allows. The beauty of this car is that you don't ever need to get near that level of skill or those speeds to really enjoy driving it.

Verdict

In a way, it's a little odd that McLaren followed up on its gobsmacking Senna, a road-legal, but unashamedly track-focused hypercar, with the 600LT, another supercar that's undoubtedly optimised for lots of time on a race circuit. They share a lot, but the 600LT is perhaps the more usable option (if you're in the enviable position to be making the choice) in the real world. That it costs less and can't quite lap as quickly is all but irrelevant to most buyers. They'll instead revel in how its elevated performance is accessible more of the time. This really is an astounding creation.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 25 Sep 2018









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2019 McLaren 600LT. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren 600LT. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren 600LT. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren 600LT. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren 600LT. Image by McLaren.

2019 McLaren 600LT. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren 600LT. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren 600LT. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren 600LT. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren 600LT. Image by McLaren.








 

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