McLaren 600LT review: a thrilling step above the 570S
This racing-inspired machine will give hypercars a run for their money
The McLaren Group has achieved some unprecedented feats since launching McLaren Automotive, its dedicated supercar firm, in 2011.
The British company’s first offering, the 12C, was an instant competitor to the Ferrari 458 when it arrived seven years ago. The car’s successor, the 650S, built upon the 12C’s foundations, cementing McLaren’s position as a strong contender in the supercar market.
But critics say both cars lack the special elements that give the supercar its character. This prompted McLaren to launch a hardcore track version of the 650S – the 675LT – two years ago.
The LT stands for Long Tail as the car is marginally longer than the 650S it’s based on to allow for aerodynamic improvements. The 675LT was an instant hit with the critics, but a limited production run of 500 coupes and 500 drop-tops meant that many potential buyers missed out on its charms.
Now there’s a new version based on the company’s entry-level 570S coupe. Much like the 675LT, the new 600LT is a track-focused version of the standard car and sports a host of carbon-fibre winglets and panels.
To mark its launch at the end of the year, we’ve been trialling the 600LT at the home of the Hungarian Grand Prix – the Hungaroring near Budapest – to see how it compares to the car it’s based on.
Practice laps in the 570S
Before getting behind the wheel of the 600LT, we did a handful of laps around the Grand Prix circuit in the 570S.
As we power out of the pits, it isn’t hard to see why the 570S was released to rave reviews back in 2015.
The supercar’s acceleration is irresistible, as is its intuitive handling that lets even the most inexperienced driver look like a professional on track. There’s also plenty of visibility from inside the cabin, which is vital for supercar owners and a strong point in most McLarens.
Our only gripe with the 570S is the slightly muted exhaust note that comes from the 562bhp twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8. This means it lacks the punch of rivals such as the Porsche 911 GT3. But the car is certainly no slouch on a circuit and it’s comfortable, too.
Over to the 600LT
Inside it’s clear that the 600LT is quite a bit more than an upgraded 570S. Racing-inspired materials fill the cabin, while the grippy Alcantara-covered steering wheel looks as if it’s been plucked from a racing car.
Our test model has the optional lightweight seats of the £750,000 Senna hypercar. They’re essentially thin carbon-fibre tubs with bits of cloth and padding stuck to them. The seats are comfortable, but they don’t provide as much support on the track as we’d hoped.
On the outside, the 600LT is covered in carbon fibre panels, small winglets and large air scoops either side of the mid-mounted 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine. There’s also a fixed rear wing, while the rear end is three inches longer – hence the LT name – to fit a large carbon-fibre diffuser.
When we fired up the engine and headed out of the pit lane to experience the 600LT’s 0-62mph of 2.8 seconds we got nowhere near the car’s top speed of 204mph.
Out on the track
Supercar enthusiasts looking to take a 600LT on a track day, but lacking the experience required, will want to kick their session off in Sport mode. This makes the gearshifts more aggressive, meaning you get a slight shove in the back when moving through the gearbox.
Driving the 600LT on a circuit is wonderful, especially as track-control is there to step in if the car begins to power slide. We inadvertently pushed the accelerator a little too hard as we exited Hungaroring’s tight turn one, causing the rear-end to momentarily slide before the 600LT almost instantaneously found grip.
At no point did we feel out of control, a testament to the 600LT’s sticky tyres and responsive steering.
We then turned the dial to Track mode, which again steps up the aggressiveness of gearshifts and limits the traction control even further.
Drivers will feel really connected to the supercar in this mode. The feedback provided by the wheel is sublime, giving you a clear sense of how much grip the front tyres have. Thanks to this, you need only make the slightest of turns to manoeuvre the car around tight bends at speed.
The brakes are also a considerable improvement. The rear-end of the 570S moves around slightly with heavy braking, requiring the driver to make small movements to the wheel to keep the vehicle under control.
That’s not the case with the 600LT, which brakes with almost zero body movement. McLaren says it’s because of the car’s fixed carbon fibre rear wing, which helps give it traction and overall composure at speed. This won’t be noticeable on the road, but it’s worth considering if you plan to take the car on a track.
Another notable difference is the exhaust note. The top-exiting outlets in the 600LT, as opposed to the rear-facing exhausts on the 570S, really amplify the roar of the 592bhp V8.
The 600LT still isn’t as tuneful as other supercars, but the sound is a notable improvement on the 570S.
When we clambered out of the 600LT’s cockpit we decided that we’d save the extra £35,000 needed to snap up this version rather than opting for the standard 570S.
The sensation of speed, the booming engine notes and the racing-inspired cabin are all signs that the 600LT is a product made with true passion. There’s no doubt that the 570S is a wonderful supercar, too, but the 600LT is just as easy to drive and provides a more engaging driving experience.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the position to buy either of these cars, go for the 600LT. You’ll need to be quick if you do, because McLaren may only produce them for 12 months.
Prices for the 600LT start at £185,500 while the 570S’s price tag is £149,000.
The price of the 600LT doesn’t include any optional extras, however. Our test vehicle had roughly £56,000 worth of options added, bringing the grand total to £241,000.
While that figure is quite a step above the base price, most of the options on our model are visual and have no impact on the driving. For instance, the gloss carbon fibre roof is a £10,960 option, while the carbon fibre interior pack is priced at £5,510. These are great additions, but they only represent a subtle improvement to the car’s looks.
There are, however, some extras we’d tick on the options list. There are lots of low-hanging carbon fibre wings on the car so the £3,860 security pack that lifts the front end – perfect for driving over speed bumps – is the one option we’d choose.
Image credit: Patrick Gosling