CARANDDRIVER: The 2019 McLaren 600LT Brings Halo-Car Flavor to the Value Menu
McLaren’s track-fortified 600LT brings Senna intensity to the Sports Series.
McLaren product development moves with the efficiency of a fast-food chain stacking beef patties, buns, and cheese into a dozen different menu items. Working from a stock of carbon-fiber tubs, twin-turbo V-8s, and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearboxes, the Brits churn out new supercars as if they’re seasonal fare. And despite the architectural similarity, each model has just enough tweaked ingredients to make it stand apart from the others. The new $242,500 600LT gives drivers a taste of the range-topping Senna‘s intensity in a smaller serving at a quarter of the price.
Derived from McLaren’s entry offering, this so-called Longtail adds 1.9 inches to the rump and 1.1 inches to the nose of the 570S coupe. The geometry is secondary to the philosophy, though. The LT recipe modifies the 570S for less weight, more power, improved aerodynamics, and greater driver engagement, all in the interest of track duty and with the added flair of limited production.
McLaren says it cut 220 pounds out of the 570S, which should land the 600LT just below 3000 pounds. That’s if you’re willing to skip the A/C, the stereo, and the nav system and spring for the Senna’s $6060 carbon-shell seats. Each 600LT gets the top-exit exhaust, which weighs 28 pounds less than the 570S’s pipes. That also clears space for a taller rear diffuser that works in conjunction with a splitter and a fixed rear wing to generate 220 pounds of downforce at 155 mph. To ensure that the 592-hp 3.8-liter V-8 (up 30 horses over the 570S) doesn’t broil the carbon fiber, the wing’s center section is wrapped with a thermal coating.
Forged control arms from the 720S deliver more toe control in the rear, increasing stability in corners and under braking. But the 570S’s wild side still lurks at the edge of grip. Under trail braking, you can coach the 600LT’s rear end to turn in even more eagerly than the front axle. Uncork the turbos early in a corner and the Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires break away in a graceful, progressive slide. Tidy and precise when treated respectfully, the 600LT turns rowdy when driven with teenage aggression.
The 600LT rides on steel springs, electronically controlled dampers, and conventional anti-roll bars. This setup can’t match the bandwidth and suppleness of the Proactive Chassis Control II system, which hydraulically links the dampers at each corner of McLaren’s more expensive cars. Still, there’s just enough compliance to bash track curbing without unsettling the car’s fine balance. Use the 600LT on the track as intended, rather than as a Soho House codpiece, and the firm ride will feel perfectly dialed in
The seven-speed transmission occasionally balks and jerks while puttering around the paddock. Keep the speed up, though, and the gearchanges snap. As in all modern McLarens, the V-8 trades torque for a dramatic windup. The high-pitched shriek and frantic rush to the 7500-rpm power peak give this engine a character that’s closer to a superbike’s than that of an AMG twin-turbo V-8 bruiser.
Stand on the brake pedal and the 600LT evokes both McLaren’s $960,000 halo car and the Almighty. Taking inspiration from the Senna, engineers fed the booster with an electric vacuum pump for consistent response and feel. Calipers from the 720S, lighter than those in the 570S, bite into the standard carbon-ceramic discs. The sum of the Longtail’s parts is tireless performance, easy modulation, and telegraphic feedback. That’s a fitting synopsis of both the brakes and the car as a whole. We’re lovin’ it.
ARTICLE BY: ERIC TINGWALL
PHOTOS BY: PATRICK GOSLING