A Lighter Touch: The McLaren 600LT

Robb Report UK’s resident motoring guru delights in a vehicle that showcases McLaren’s “sorcerer's touch”

While 600hp is a serious amount for a lightweight sportscar to have, it is not the 600LT’s stand-out feature. Talk to the engineers who created it and they are much prouder of the weight that has been pared from it when compared to the 570S that it is based on. In its lightest configuration the LT weighs 1247kg, 100kg less than itsalready-svelte sister, a point illustrated at our first drive in Portugal with a trolley containing a hundred bags of sugar. As McLaren boss Mike Flewitt puts it, the brand wants to win the weight race more than it wants to win the power race.

But unlike the 675LT that preceded it – both being named after the “Long Tail” version of the McLaren F1 that was created to go racing – the 600LT has been designed and engineered to keep a high level of everyday usability, while still being capable of becoming a flame-spitting monster when the mood takes it.

While 600hp is a serious amount for a lightweight sportscar to have, it is not the 600LT’s stand-out feature. Talk to the engineers who created it and they are much prouder of the weight that has been pared from it when compared to the 570S that it is based on. In its lightest configuration the LT weighs 1247kg, 100kg less than its already-svelte sister, a point illustrated at our first drive in Portugal with a trolley containing a hundred bags of sugar. As McLaren boss Mike Flewitt puts it, the brand wants to win the weight race more than it wants to win the power race.

The flames are real. The top-exit exhaust system will shoot fire under hard use. These aren’t visible in daylight, although they will be spectacular at night, but their presence has required a special heat-proof coating to be applied to the sizeable wing which helps create up to 100kg of aerodynamic downforce.

<span style="font-size: 16px;">My first encounter with the 600LT takes place on the Hungaroring race circuit near Budapest, a tight and technical 2.7-mile track which was opened in 1986 and which still hosts a Grand Prix every year. I’m sent out to learn the track in a 570S, which feels predictably taut and responsive, but which soon turns out to be little more than an appetiser for the LT.</span>  Beadyeye

The LT’s lack of mass enables it to punch well above its weight. While it isn’t allowed to be quicker than the more expensive 720S, it does have the legs on luminaries including the Ferrari 488 and even Lamborghini Huracan Performante. And that’s before corners are added to the mix.

Because turns are the LT’s hunting ground, and where it becomes truly special. Ultra-grippy track-spec Trofeo R tyres give it huge raw adhesion, certainly once they have been brought up to the temperature at which they are happiest. The steering is light but yields immediate responses, and the balance of grip between the front and rear axles is almost perfectly judged. The LT doesn’t hide behind technology, the stability control offers a protective shield, but it is still possible to get things wrong and to overwhelm the available adhesion. But it stays predictable as the limit approaches, or even gets exceeded, without any of the snappy manners that the 675LT displayed when liberties were taken. You could drive this car on track for a very long time without ever getting bored of it.

It is properly exciting too. The exhaust rasps, and the seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox adds a savage bump of torque to each full-throttle upshift. The brakes are a revelation, the pedal staying firm and delivering perfect response even under the hardest use. While the downforce doesn’t have the same Hand of God effect that can be felt in the Senna – which makes up to eight times as much – it certainly helps add through higher-speed turns and under-braking.

McLaren has a sorcerer’s touch when it comes to distinguishing its products, all of which share the same core architecture of a carbonfibre structure and mid-mounted twin-turbo V8s in various states of tune. On first impressions, the LT is as exciting as any road-legal car the company has produced, even the mighty P1. If you are in the market for a junior supercar capable of delivering endless thrills on track, it would be hard not to have this one at the very top of your list.

 

THE STATS
Price: £185,500
Engine: 3779cc V8, twin turbocharged
Power: 600hp
Torque: 620Nm
Top speed: 204mph
0-62mph: 2.9-sec
Economy: 23.2mpg
CO2: 276g/km

 

 

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