The McLaren 600LT Spider: a lighter and more focused track supercar

A supercar sits in a parking lot under a cloudy sky.

Jonathan Gitlin

Although we were doing everything we could to cover our own travel costs, in this case McLaren took us to Phoenix to drive the 600LT (and the 720S Spider, plus next week) and offered two nights in a hotel.

I'll admit it: I was not sure I liked the McLaren 600LT Spider. I was not the biggest fan of the McLaren 570S, the car on which it is based – unlike most people driving one, I would choose an Audi R8 as a mid-engine daily supercar. While the 570S made concessions on the practical side, I was never bothered by its appearance, and it had enough electronic weaknesses to become one of my most memorable memories of my time with the car. But the 600LT does a lot less compromise in the name of everyday use, and it's so much better.

Veteran observers of McLaren will know, thanks to their name, that this one has something special: in the McLaren language, LT means "long tail". The first long-haul McLaren – ten F1 GTR race cars and three F1 GT road cars – appeared in 1997, with a new bodywork that lengthened the nose and tail to increase the force of support at speed.

More recently, McLaren took up the idea with the 675LT, which applied the same ideas: more power, less weight and greater aerodynamic strength on the 650S supercar. The result was a track-based adrenaline rallying device that appealed to journalists who were lucky enough to drive it and the 500 lucky individuals who were able to buy one before the order book was full. . In fact, there were so many requests for the 675LT that McLaren announced that another 500 vehicles would be convertible. These, too, sold out quickly.

The success of the 675LT, both coupe and spider, did not go unnoticed at the futuristic McLaren headquarters in the British city of Woking. If more aero, more power and less weight could inject a much needed drama into McLaren 's Super Series cars, why not use the same approach for the brand' s Sports Series cars, point of view? entry of its carbon fiber supercars? While the 650S spawned the 675LT, the 570S evolved to become the 600LT, making its debut as a hardtop last summer and now as a spider (formerly known as roofless buggies pulled by sporting horses) .

Once you've gone beyond retinal-tinting paint, you'll notice that the 600LT is embellished with complicated aerodynamic features – carbon fiber excrescences that channel the air and put it to work quickly to stall the car on the road. It is indeed longer than the 570S by almost three inches, and most of it at the back, although the larger front splitter adds a bit of length as well. In my eyes, the aerodynamic options give the car a much less benign appearance than the 570S, especially at the rear, which is dominated by a large fixed wing at the top and a no-frills rear diffuser at the bottom. The revised body generates a useful support force of 100 kg (220 lb) at 155 mph, although, even on the track, we have not been able to reach sufficient speed to confirm it.

McLaren designed the Sports Series so that it can be converted from scratch. The 600LT Spider did not need additional reinforcement or bracing compared to its brother. The folding roof mechanism obviously adds a little weight – 50kg to be precise – but it does not matter, as the car still benefits from all this relief. As a result, the scales are lighter (100 kg) than the Spider 570S that had led Eric a few months ago. (The lightest dry weight for a 600-liter spider is 2,859 lbs / 1,354 kg, but with liquids and a tank full of gasoline, you can expect to be closer to 3,100 / 1 405 kg.)

The importance of weight reduction is also evident from the inside. Here, the list of options makes you crazy. Your seat is prized for its lack of mass and not for the number of degrees of power setting. You can say that McLaren would have left the air conditioning out if you really wanted it. It may be counterintuitive to want to wear black Alcantara instead of leather, which really elevates the interior of the 600LT compared to the more pedestrian 570S.

If I have a problem with that, it's because the P1 specification lightweight racing seats got stuck on the right side when I was driving. The passenger seat did not cause me any problems of this type and I could not try the super light carbon one – piece seats (which save 21 kg).

Jonathan Gitlin

The reduction in mass obviously improves the weight / power ratio of a car; the same goes for the increase of power. The 600LT's 3.8L twin-turbo V8 is another version of the M838T, which has powered all recent McLaren other than the 4.0L Senna. In this configuration, it delivers 592 hp (441 kW) at 7,500 rpm, with a maximum output torque of 457 lb-ft (619 Nm) from 5,500 to 6,500 rpm. (She calls 600LT because she produces 600 horsepower metric.) The wider air intakes help in this regard, as does the light and noisy exhaust system that comes out now. a pair of hoses right in front of the rear wing. And yes, the carbon fiber of this wing has been protected by a heat resistant ceramic coating, in case you are curious.

Power is transmitted to the rear wheels through a seven-speed SSG dual-clutch transmission that, like the V8, is unique to McLaren. Among its capabilities, there is a "devastating ride mode:" on a private road or other suitable place, you can also turn a pair of 20-inch Pirelli Trofeo R tires into smoke by simply pressing a few buttons. This is a special ability even more useless than launch control, especially if you pay for a new rubber. But I will admit that I do not regret not having had the time to try it.

Zero at 62 mph (100 km / h) takes 2.9 seconds (0-60 mph is 2.8). Zero at 124 km / h (200 km / h) takes 8.4 seconds and the top speed is 202 km / h with sloping roof and 196 mph with roof downhill. The fuel economy is estimated at 15/18/22 city / city / combined / highway, which is pretty good for a car like this.

Left on its own, the SSG gearbox will choose the best gear, but you're not driving a car like this because you want it to go at speeds. Better to load it yourself, via the pallets mounted on wheels. Set the powertrain to Track for the fastest gear changes and you want Sport or Track to take advantage of the engine bark when downshifting. Yes, it's childish, but a winged supercar and neon is hardly subtle in the best case, and the audible character added to the more classic 570S is certainly one of the most effective settings.

Multiple modes

Likewise, the manipulation options are Normal, Sport or Track. As with previous McLaren, you can configure them regardless of the setting you have chosen for the powertrain. Honestly, I could not say much of a difference on the finely paved roads of Arizona; even on the track, the ride has never been particularly hard and has always been well cushioned. The car rolls slightly lower (-0.3 inches / -8 mm) than the 570S, with stiffer springs at the front (+ 13%) and at the rear (+ 34%), and its antiroll bars (+ 50% at the front and + 25% at the back) are much stiffer. Suspension triangles and uprights are borrowed from the current Super Series car, the 720S (more on this next week), which also saves 22.5 pounds of unsprung mass from the car .

Passing through the handling modes enhances the dual valve adaptive dampers at each angle and also modifies the action thresholds of the traction and stability controls of the car. Changing mode does not change the direction. McLaren is a little outlandish in that it still uses electrohydraulic power steering, and the company says it perfectly judges the relationship between the 600LT and the 600LT. The car is very well weighed, with a lot of feel and feedback from the front wheels (like the rear, dressed with 600LT specific Pirelli Trofeo R tires).

Jonathan Gitlin

We were able to further deepen the behavior of the 600LT on the right track. Arizona Motorsports Park, located next to Luke Air Force Air Base, offers a good combination of medium and low speed corners on F-35As, taking off and landing from time to time. It has proven agile, changing direction willingly and with little agitation, even when braking hairpin. I was asked to use the borders as much as possible in order to show the capabilities of the suspension, which many of us have also inadvertently tested on a particular livestock network on the way.

Even on the track, the electronic safety net of the 600LT (called Proactive Chassis Control) protects you. It was obvious during my last laps when Charlie (the extremely affable instructor) pushed one more button to activate the dynamic mode. Now the car has stopped flattering my driving style and showed how much I needed a more progressive accelerator application from this same hairpin. I imagined that my smile would have grown with more time to get to know the car in Dynamic, but the schedules requirements of the airlines only offered me two 20-minute sessions.

The price of all these additional adjustments compared to the standard 570S Spider is not negligible. This 600LT starts at $ 208,000, which may seem huge, but it's actually pretty competitive with competitors like the Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet or the Ferrari Portofino. If you want all the light style of a 600LT spider, get ready to shell out at least $ 265,500. The list of options does not require too much enthusiasm for the first digit to be a three. If that sounds tempting to you, it's good news: unlike the 675LT, this hardcore McLaren is not a limited edition production, and up to 20% of the production of the Sports series at Woking could consist of 600LT models in 2019.

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