McLarens don’t hang around. Not just in 0-60mph terms, they’re also blink-and-you’ve-missed-it showroom phenomena. There are waiting lists for every new model and even pre-owned examples are snapped up as soon as they hit the dealers’ forecourts.
The fact is, true petrolheads – the well-heeled ones certainly – love the quality of the cars’ engineering, their pure driveability and the heritage passed down from the man from whom the company takes its name, New Zealander Grand Prix driver and engineer Bruce McLaren, who was killed at the cruelly young age of only 32.
Price: £185,500 (£242,050 as tested)
Engine: 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic gearbox
Top speed: 204 mph
0-62mph: 2.9 seconds
CO2 emissions: 266g/km
McLaren Automotive, the firmly British supercar manufacturer based in an extraordinarily futuristic headquarters resembling the hideout of a Bond villain deep in the heart of Surrey, was formed just eight years ago to capitalise on its Formula 1 experience to produce stunning road cars. Its success has been as dramatic as the cars, moving into profit after only three years…something which arch rival Ferrari has failed to do in its 79 years of existence.
Every one of the 22 cars produced each day is hand-built and from October the engineers be working on the latest in the opening Sports Series, which lies below the Super Series and Ultimate Series.
The 600LT is the fourth chapter in the McLaren ‘Longtail’ story – derived from its elongated silhouette – following the F1 GTR ‘Longtail’ race car and 675LT Coupé and Spider and is the lightest, most powerful and quickest road-legal version they’ve made.
Its characteristics are quite simple – increased power, reduced weight (100kg lighter than the 570S Coupe), superb aerodynamics, absolute driver engagement, track-focused dynamics and limited availability, although McLaren won’t say exactly how many they’ll be making. Production will continue for a year, fitting in around existing schedules. As a guide, the 500 examples of the previous quarter-of-a-million-pound 675LT sold out in just three months.
The 592bhp and 457lb/ft ensures blistering acceleration of 0-62mph in just 2.9 seconds and from a standing start to 124mph in only 8.2 seconds.
Of course that’s something you can only really experience on the racetrack, which is why I found myself at the wheel of one of the first examples on the iconic Hungaroring Grand Prix Circuit outside Budapest in Hungary.
Under the guidance of one of McLaren’s specialist drivers in the passenger seat, I was able to experience the amazing acceleration, unbelievable adhesion and stability at full power. Almost as important was the precise pedal feel and phenomenal stopping power from the latest-generation lightweight brake calipers, carbon ceramic discs and brake boosters which if necessary can bring the car to a standstill from 125 mph in just 117 metres….about the length of ten buses….or in my case from flat out on the straight in seventh gear down to second for the hairpin at the end without disappearing into the undergrowth.
Helping to keep the car stuck to the tarmac is the aerodynamic carbon fibre bodywork, including front splitter, side sills, extended diffuser and the fixed rear wing which contributes to 100kg of downforce at 155mph.
Every possible weight-saving measure has been employed from the unique short exhaust which emerges out of the top of the engine bay, to doing away with glovebox and door pockets to save one kilo. Similarly, air-conditioning, satellite navigation and an audio system are all available as no-cost options and are not fitted as standard. Carbon fibre racing seats save a significant 21kg.
This is a car for a real enthusiast who not only has deep pockets – the test car had more than £56,000 of extras on top of the almost £200K list price – but also has access to a track to get the most from it.
If you are that person, you better get your name down quickly.