“So, are you excited?” the man asked as he handed across the keys to the first McLaren 600LT in the country, all $565,000 of it.
“Up to a point,” I mumbled, in a pretty good impression of the biggest ingrate in the world. Well, come on, it was the very end of the year, I was exhausted, it was a Friday and raining, and I had a city-full of traffic to get through before I’d arrive at the quiet road I had in mind. Until then, it was just another car.
No, it was worse than that, because it had miserable visibility and required me to hit a button to raise the ground-hugging nose every time there was a speed bump, or I’d scratch or crack the ridiculously expensive carbon-fibre front splitter.
An hour or so later I was on the winding roads along the coast, glimpses of the ocean revealed every so often between the tall gums. The sun had come out, and I could see steam rising off the road ahead through the wide and steeply sloped windscreen. Vortexes of leaves and water were swirling in my wake.
The engine was roaring, my ridiculous ennui had disappeared and, hey, I could have filmed a commercial while I was at it. This was about as perfect a cliché as could be. All that was needed was a leggy blonde sitting next to me, demurely admiring my car control, and the life skills that enabled me to afford this outrageously expensive machine in the first place. Oh, and a film crew, a drone and a tosser with a manbun to direct.
I digress; it was impossible not to marvel at how well the new 600LT was performing, how beautifully composed it was on these quite bumpy but picturesque roads, how pinpoint accurate the steering was, via the superbly weighted and completely unadorned wheel. It’s a rare thing these days to encounter a steering wheel with no controls on it whatsoever.
This is about as no-nonsense interior as you’ll find: simple, classy and with almost every surface covered with Alcantara, the artificial suede that costs more and wears better than the real stuff.
Unperturbed by slippery things
The 600LT was completely unperturbed by the road being wet and covered in leaves and all sorts of other slippery things. It was a drama-free ride, thanks to the superb chassis set-up, enhanced downforce and the stickiness of the bespoke Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres, the durability and replacement cost of which one should not even think about.
So what is a 600LT? It is based on the entry-level “Sports Series” McLaren (the 540C,570Setc) but has more power, more aerodynamic aids, various weight-saving components and brakes that are even more brutally effective. You can stop from 200 km/h to rest in 117 metres.
LT is shorthand for “long tail” and was originally applied to a greatly extended rear section fitted to some McLaren F1 coupes in the 1990s. It has lately become company shorthand for a more extreme version of any model. At 4604 mm from bumper to bumper, this car is in fact only 74 mm longer than the vehicle it is based on.
The LT is $455,000 plus on-road costs and options, though our car had $110K of options. These included an array of carbon-fibre extras, various interior upgrades (B&W sound system, alarm etc), an extraordinary ceramic grey exterior paint that looked different in every light, and two things you couldn’t do without: a rear-view camera and the nose lifter.
The numerical part of the car’s name comes from the power in metric horsepower (600 PS). In standard numbers it has 441 kW and 620 Nm, enough to push it to 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds and 200 km/h in 8.2 seconds. The 570S takes 3.2 and 9.5, which is hardly slow.
The 600LT looks extreme, feels extreme, and frankly, would be hard to live with every day, what with the pain-in-the-arm lift-up doors, harsh ride and impractically low body height.
On the other hand, you could drive it to a race track, probably set best time of the day among the road cars, and beat some of the race cars too. Then you could drive it home.
- Price$455,000 (excluding on-road costs); $565,306 as tested
- Engine3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 (petrol)
- Power/torque441 kW/620 Nm
- Fuel economy11.7 L/100 km (combined cycle)
- C0₂266 g/km