Deep inside McLaren Automotive’s Sport Series lies a hidden gem of today’s car industry.
In a world where vehicles are being stuffed with unnecessary weight, safety nannies and getting closer to autonomy, one supercar is continuing on the path of purity. It avoids anything it doesn’t need, and focuses on just the driving experience. Forget about comfort, infotainment, or efficiency; if you want a race car for the street, the 2020 McLaren 600LT is just the ticket. It’s worth mentioning that the subject of the photos here is a 2019 600LT Coupé; the car has become a Spider for the 2020 model year.
While other exotic brands like Lamborghini, Aston Martin, and Rolls-Royce are busy putting out new SUVs and crossovers to meet with increasing consumer demand, McLaren has remained true to their racing roots. They’ve announced a plan of investing $1.6 billion and get production to 6,000 cars per year within the next five years. We have now tested the current lineup of McLaren’s Sport Series as well as the Super Series. The 720S (reviewed here) is just about the best all-around supercar money can buy today, but the 600LT tested here lives on another level.
The “LT” at the end of the 600LT’s name stands for “Long Tail”, which means exactly what it says. The 600LT is based on the 570S (reviewed here) but has an extra few centimeters of length thanks to aggressive carbon-fiber aero and tweaked bodywork. It’s a ridiculous looking thing, in the best way possible, with the wildest styling of any of the Sport Series cars. While the 570S Coupe and Spider both look relatively conservative, the aero bits on the 600LT along with the exhaust exits on the engine cover make it appear positively menacing. For those concerned about getting the car wet, the top-mounted exhaust does have drainage holes built in. At top speed, the fixed wing provides 220-pounds of downforce.
McLaren has placed a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8 behind the cabin, with 592 horsepower and 457 lb-ft. of torque. The claimed 0-100km/h sprint time is three seconds flat, thanks to a screaming 8,000RPM redline. Like in every other McLaren, there is substantial turbo lag, but once the turbochargers spool up, the LT accelerates with ferocity and aggression. The engine is fundamentally the same as the 570S, but the 100-kilogram reduction from that car seems to go a long way, because the 600LT feels much faster from the seat-of-my-pants dyno.
It’s not about the power either; the 2020 McLaren 600LT is all about the engagement. Like with everything else to come out of McLaren’s factory these days, the damping is some of the best in the world. Traditional, power assisted hydraulic steering delivers every possible ounce of feel to the driver’s fingertips, and the wide low-profile tires only compliment this. The suspension is extremely firm, and with the dynamics panel activated and the powertrain and handling set to “Track”, it gets even firmer. While the 570S is absolutely usable on a daily basis, the 600LT is best left to days when driving is the main activity of the day.
The 600LT gets its brakes from the 720S, and the carbon ceramics are 390mm in front, and 380mm in the rear. Six-piston calipers are up front, while the rear end gets a four-piston setup. The brakes are just as race-car as the rest of the car, with an absurdly stiff pedal and excellent bite. This is some of the best brake feel in the business, and when the car is stopped, the driver must be careful and keep their foot firmly on the brake, as the car will try to run away.
Stepping into the cabin of the 2020 McLaren 600LT is an adventure in itself, thanks to the fixed-back bucket seats lifted out of McLaren’s Senna hypercar. The thin carbon-fiber buckets have an incredible amount of support, however the seat profile juts out, making entry and exit painful or impossible, given the size of the driver – larger folks need not apply. There’s no adjustability other than a bar on the bottom that moves the seat forward or backwards. The steering wheel does adjust, though there’s minimal movement. Once you’re inside, the car is perfectly comfortable.
McLaren’s infotainment system is still the single biggest obstacle. No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity is available, and while there’s Bluetooth audio compatibility, my iPhone 11 Pro came disconnected on numerous occasions, and the car indicated that its Bluetooth was “powered off”, refusing to come back on until the car was parked, shut off, and locked for a few minutes. A decent amount of space for small carry items such as a camera bag or backpacks is available behind the seats, and the front cargo area will hold at least one carry-on bag.
The 600LT is the fourth Long Tail from McLaren, starting with the original F1 GTR, a longer version of the F1 road car. The name disappeared for a while until the 675LT Coupé and Spider, which were legendary cars as well, with the 600LT debuting in 2019. Later this year, the all-new 765LT will be entering the market, and given that it’s based on the 720S, it looks promising. There are some challenges with connectivity, but none of it matters. The 2020 McLaren 600LT is one of the most hardcore, focused driver’s cars currently available, full-stop.