Take an exotic supercar around a track and it can feel like you’re just holding on for dear life. Far from domesticated, these cars do what they want, with jittery energy that can be hard to control if you’re unprepared.
Engine: 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8
Output: 592 hp, 457 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch transmission
0-62 (100km/h): 2.9 seconds
0-124 MPH (200 km/h): 8.4 seconds
Quarter mile time: 10.5 seconds
Top Speed: Roof up: 201 MPH (324 km/h) Roof Down: 196 MPH (315 km/h)
Price (USD): $256,500
Price (CAD): $298,500
Sometimes it feels like you’re getting the hang of it, working with the vehicle’s lightweight and powerful engine to survive each lap. Rarely does it feel as natural as the new McLaren 600LT Spider to place one of these vehicles anywhere on the track.
My instructor tells me to get the car closer to the apex of a turn, and so I look where I want to be, move the wheel as intended, and like magic, I’m there. I’m told to brake late, and in the face of fear, I stomp on the brakes (a bit later than the cone placed there to tell you when to start braking) and sure enough, the car slows down in time to make the turn easily. Every adjustment I’m told to make, the car responds without worry or drama. It doesn’t bite back, demanding your undivided attention and respect in the way that other performance-oriented cars do. It does as asked, lets me lap the track as fast as I can and have fun in the process, rather than worry that a single misstep will send me off the course or slow me down significantly.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
There’s a lot of magic in the 600LT Spider, and by “magic” I mean engineering. This is the fifth chapter of longtail McLarens, (what the LT in the name denotes) and these vehicles are designed to be more track focused and entertaining than the more mainstream models in the McLaren lineup.
It’s fun to say that, by the way: “McLaren Lineup.” There’s a whole range of cars to pick and choose from, from the million-dollar Senna hypercar to the more mainstream 570GT that’s offered in the ballpark, price-wise, of some Porsche 911s. There are plenty of vehicles to choose from, and the 600LT Spider is a step up from the 570S Spider while incorporating the lessons learned from the 675LT as well. The longtail design makes the car look more aggressive, with a slight bumper extension at the back and front over the 570S Spider.
The 600LT Spider is lighter than the 570S Spider, and a bit heavier than the 600LT Coupe. It uses a carbon fiber monocoque that’s lighter than myself, making me wonder if I’m the heaviest aspect of the car. The vehicle is significantly lighter than the all-wheel drive, V10-equipped Huracan Performante Spider. When it comes to cutting weight, that’s McLaren’s expertise. Speed too, as the roof mechanism operates in just 15 seconds, which is an important aspect when the skies open with rain and you don’t want to ruin the interior of your exclusive supercar.
Supercars are stripped down and focused vehicles and this is clear in the 600LT. Power adjustable seats aren’t standard, those are too heavy. You can have even more stripped out seats if you want – seats reigned in from the Senna hypercar. If you want to be really serious about this lightweight thing, you can opt to leave the air conditioning and audio system behind at the factory in Woking, Surrey, England. You can add all the fancy features if you really want, McLaren will be happy to charge you to do so, but at least they don’t replace the handles with straps. There are limited carpeting and plush materials too, instead, you’ll see lots of carbon fiber. It isn’t as sexy as the marbled look of the carbon composite fiber accents on the Huracan Spider, but the exterior of the car is more complete in comparison to the Lamborghini.
You can have different fender options, including a carbon fiber upgrade. Where the Lamborghini just has big (and high-tech) spoilers, the McLaren’s is smaller and outlines other gorgeous highlights of the car, including those top-mounted exhaust exits. Everyone who sees them loves them, and from the rear-view mirror, you can see the heat haze, reminding you of the powerplant lurking beneath the sheet metal.
See Also: Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spider
Behind the driver is a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 that makes 592 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. It motivates the droptop to hit highway speeds in under 3 seconds and gets to 124 MPH (200 km/h) in just over 8 seconds. The top speed is an insane 202 MPH with the roof up, and 196 with the roof down. I’d say driving with the roof down is the way to go, as you can hear the vehicle so much clearer. And even though McLaren’s engines don’t have the same sonorous calling card as other exotics, it still sounds good, with extremely mechanical sound effects. The sound that follows each gear changes is intoxicating, with a bang and hiss as the engine starts revving up again.
Gear changes are done by a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. There are different modes for the powertrain that significantly impact the way the transmission slams into gear. Normal mode feels as the name suggests, normal with crisp changes. The sports mode slams into gear with a fantastic crack-sound thanks to an ignition cut feature while the track mode gives you a seamless gear change with an extra shove, dubbed “inertia push” with each upshift. The throttle response also changes with each mode, but it’s worth pointing out that the track mode also ups the redline, allowing you to get a little bit extra out of the car.
If you’re left wanting by the powertrain, I’m unsure what other options you may have. The 600LT feels fast on the road and track, and with the roof down, you can feel the speed through the wind giving you a buzz cut.
See Also: McLaren 570GT Review
The steering and suspension are responsive, but the grip and brakes that impress. In fact, the 600LT Spider borrows brakes from that million-dollar Senna hypercar and can out brake the brand’s former halo car, the P1, in 124 MPH to zero tests. The Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R tires are bespoke to the 600LT, and the automaker says they’re better than what was outfitted on the more powerful 675LT. The vehicle feels world class on the track.
Droptops of yore could get wobbly in terms of ride compared to coupes, as an important aspect of the structure, the roof, gets tossed. Weight and bracing used to be applied in other places to make the car feel rigid and stiff to compensate for the loss of the roof. Of course, those times are no more, at least at McLaren. The 600LT gets no additional bracing and the roofless version feels just as responsive and stiff as anything else. On a meticulously maintained track, the car feels great and it responds immediately to any movement of the steering wheel. On the road, it can feel a bit busy, even with the suspension in its most mundane, mainstream and comfortable setting.
It’s clear that the track-worthiness of the 600LT Spider is its priority. On the road, the precision, feedback, and capability of the car is a constant reminder, as the steering wheel fizzes in your hands, the suspension chops on your back and the speed limit keeps your foot light on the throttle.
But that doesn’t mean the car isn’t fun, it’s just ready for more. Unlike other cars, the McLaren doesn’t inflict you with pain, it just pokes you and reminds you of its true potential on the track as a precision driving instrument. It’s so natural feeling. I’ve never felt more at home in one of these intimidatingly fast and expensive cars.
The Verdict: 2019 McLaren 600LT Spider Review
How expensive and exclusive is it? It’ll set you back at least $250,000 and McLaren will make the Spider for only 13 months. You can outfit in any number of ways. Fancier seats, carbon fiber accents, upgraded sound systems, track telemetry system and soft close doors are just some of the options you can add to the 600LT Spider, and you can make the car extra special through McLaren Special Operations (MSO) which is a division that will make your vehicle a one-of-one specialty vehicle. Upgraded or not, I can’t imagine anyone would regret the decision if they’re in the market for such a car since the driving experience is exhilarating. Whether you’re seeking the fastest times on the track or enjoying the sun and wind in your hair, this car is a highlight in this industry, handily outdoing what other exotics can do in every way.