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More power, more downforce, more carbon fibre, less weight and the carbon fibre seats from the Senna, what’s not to like? Very little, in fact, as Ben Griffin finds out in his McLaren 600LT review.

By the year 2025, there will be 18 new McLarens and the 600LT isn’t one of them. What it is, though, is a 570S that wants to be a Senna. And in all honesty, the difference between the two is much less than you think.

That is because most people think they are good behind the wheel, but in reality relatively few of could actually cut it as a race driver. Open cheque book or not. As a result, most of us would struggle to push a car to its limits without either crashing or making a warm mess. Probably both simultaneously.

So when it comes to supercars, there is much to be said for looking at the cheaper end of the scale. Sure, in a game of Top Trumps the £750,000 Senna will beat the 600LT from 0-124mph comfortably. But how many of us would really notice the 1.4-second difference while trying to absorb your now entirely blurry surroundings?

Of course, Lewis Hamilton could. Definitely most test drivers and probably some of the more skilled motoring journalists, too. But then most McLarens will, rather sadly, spend their days cruising around Harrods and that never really requires a 204mph top speed. So outright oomph matters even less.

Cheap is subjective, of course, and having to choose between any McLarens is a lovely weight to have on your shoulders. So how does the 600LT compare with the 570S, 720S and the mighty Senna? To find out, McLaren invited me to Hungary. Home of the Rubik’s Cube, the first ever electric car and, more usefully on this occasion, the F1 Hungaroring Circuit, which is where the event was taking place.

McLaren 600LT review ─ Getting Acquainted

McLaren 600LT review ─ A Tribe Called Cars

McLaren LT cars – short for ‘Long Tail’ – get their name from being longer, funnily enough. 74mm, to be precise, with 27mm extra at the front and 47mm at the rear. They are also designed to be more track focussed and, more importantly, more fun. 675LT fun and then some, in the case of the 600LT, so says McLaren.

The 600LT is actually the fourth of its kind, the first being the F1 GTR LT and then 675LT Coupe and Spider. It uses the 570S as a basis, but its 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 has been taken to 591.7bhp, which in new money is 600PS. Hence the 600 bit.

It also gets up to 100kg of weight saving if you are happy giving up air conditioning (12.6kg), the infotainment display, glovebox and door bins and can get used to the less adjustable but beautiful and actually rather comfortable Senna seats, which resemble a sheet of carbon with fabric squares stuck on.

Thanks to a new rear spoiler and other aerodynamic revisions, meanwhile, the 600LT has 100kg extra of downforce, which is 100 per cent more than the 570S as that was technically downforce neutral. Faster cornering and more stability are some of the benefits of that change.

McLaren 600LT review ─ A Tribe Called Cars

Various items fitted to the Senna can be found on the 600LT. The Pirelli Trofeo R tyres, which are bespoke, are one example. Then there is the braking system, which uses the 720S system. Except here, you also get the Senna booster for improved pedal feel. The transmission design is similar, too, which means lightning fast gear changes.

Then there is a more sophisticated suspension system with elements from the 720S that not only helps save weight, it provides considerably more firmness for improved cornering ability. But not at the complete expense of on-road comfort, even in the lairy, assist-light Track mode.

Besides some 600LT badging here and there, the interior is very much the same as the 570S. So no starting the engine from above your head, Senna style. That means the same basic and outdated infotainment system, an issue more easily forgettable now that Alcantara takes the place of leather.

Exterior-wise, the changes are much easier to see although it still looks instantly recognisable as a McLaren. Being a longer car has meant changes could be made to the rear diffuser, while even more carbon fibre and an 8mm lower ride height provide a subtle but welcome injection of attitude. Never the attitude of the Senna, though, which has windows in the doors and a rear spoiler measured in hectares.

All in all, 23 per cent of the 600LT’s components are new compared with the 570S, which is impressive when you consider the largely similar exterior.

McLaren 600LT review ─ The Performance Figures

McLaren 600LT review ─ A Tribe Called Cars

A cheeky engine remap is responsible for an extra 29bhp, giving the 600LT a power to weight ratio of 474bhp per tonne. Not quite Bugatti Chiron territory, but actually not that far away from the F3000 single-seater I drove recently.

What that all means is utterly ridiculous performance. 0-62mph comes and goes in 2.9 seconds and 0-124 mph in 8.2. To put that into perspective, in a straight line the 600LT would beat the pricier Porsche 911 GT2 RS, Lamborghini Huracan Performante and 488GTB. Given the new aero withcraft, it would inevitably do well when things get twisty, too.

Not wanting the brakes to feel left out, McLaren has added the carbon ceramic stoppers from the 720S and – for added feel and control – the brake booster from the Senna. In doing so, braking from 124mph to zero needs just 117 metres. 17 metres more than its 789bhp and £750,000 sibling, admittedly, although the effect on your face is quite similar.

As for the 600LT’s tyres, you get Pirelli Trofeo Rs, which are grippier and less skittish than the Corsas on the 570S I tested first. These are bespoke to the 600LT, but basically the same as what you get on the Senna. Therefore, extremely grippy, especially when you get some heat in them.

0-62mph takes an impressive 2.9 seconds, which makes it as quick as a Porsche 911 GT2 RS and faster than the Lamborghini Huracan Performante and the Ferrari 488GTB. Bear in mind these are more expensive cars.

0-124mph, meanwhile, comes and goes in 8.2 seconds, which is again faster than its rivals, while the top speed is a more than adequate 204mph – 7mph away from the Senna.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the carbon ceramic brakes from the 720S, fitted with the brake booster from the Senna for greater levels of feel, make the 600LT capable of decelerating from 124mph to 0 in 117 metres, 17 metres more than said hypercar.

McLaren 600LT review ─ The Driving Stuff

McLaren 600LT review ─ A Tribe Called Cars

Though it seems the 570S is only slightly less ‘nippy’, the reality is night and day – and not just because the former (used for sighting laps) was fitted with those aforementioned inferior tyres. In the 600LT, the heavier steering provides even more feedback and the reduction in weight makes it much sharper and snappier.

This is also due to the fact the 3.8-litre twin-turbo delivers power in a way that feels borderline naturally aspirated. In the 570S, you spend your life trying to judge exactly when to put your foot down because the gap between when you press the accelerator and when the two turbos spool up is, in racing terms, about a decade. In the 600LT it’s instant, even if you are lazy with the gears.

Deceleration, meanwhile, is where McLarens used to lose out to rivals. Without putting the 600LT against its rivals in a direct test, that could well be the case here although you can certainly feel impressive levels of bite, delivered in a progressive, intuitive manner. A Senna stops considerably faster, but you can brake much later than in the 570S.

Borrowing, yet again, from the Senna is the transmission, which is of the seven-speed DCT variety. Gear changes are harsh in Normal and Sport modes, which is fun on a road but a bit of a pain at a track when worrying about keeping the car balanced. But in track, they are lightning fast and barely noticeable.

We say barely because, obviously, having two upward-facing exhaust holes about 4mm from your ears means the noise is loud. A Senna is more deafening, as you would expect from 789bhp, but the 600LT makes the 570S sound like a luxury saloon. Loud pops and a harsh, aggressive engine note that hides a lot of the 570S’s turbo whine really is pleasing, as are those moments when it spits fire. Having a deliberately thin rear windscreen obviously helps.

McLaren 600LT review ─ A Tribe Called Cars

The overall feeling in the 600LT is one of urgency but also control. Despite a relative lack of track time, I was able to max it on the straight and recover a few moments where the tail stepped out. Depending on the mode, it will hold your hand to some extent but in a way that rarely kills the fun. With it off, however, and the way McLaren has set the car up and its carbon fibre tub let you know in great detail when it is time to back off.

Race cars for the road, with the exception of single-seaters, typically feel fat on a track but the 600LT felt at home. This is despite the Hungaroring being a corner-heavy, technical circuit usually occupied by F1 cars. The balance between performance and accessibility is below that of the Senna, but it still has that race car blood running through its veins.

As was the case for my Senna review, I never went near a public road so there is a chance it will ride just that bit harshly and be too much of a handful to truly enjoy in the UK. But having a sophisticated suspension setup, similar to that of the 720S, means it should be livable. But no means as versatile as the 570GT because of the reduced practicality.

McLaren 600LT review ─ The Spec List

McLaren 600LT review ─ A Tribe Called Cars

You can, in theory, buy a ‘pov’ spec 600LT for £185,500 but nobody will, according to McLaren. More likely is at least £40,000 in extras, less than the £60,440-worth fitted to the MSO Grey (£6,240 alone) test car I drove. Enough to buy an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, but not enough to keep it on the road.

That means there will be a lot of 600LTs that cost as much as a basic 720S. But because the 720S is a hugely powerful GT-esque beast and the other is a feisty track bruiser, the British manufacturer reckons there will be little overlap. And based on how they both drive, I would be inclined to agree.

Unlike the Senna, which only really has seven options, the 600LT has many. The £3,860 Security Pack, for instance, is essential if you want front and rear parking sensors, the vehicle lift for making speed bumps less miserable and a rear-view camera.

You can also spec two levels of the MSO pack, Clubsport and Clubsport Pro. The first, priced at £24,200, adds a whole host of carbon fibre finery on the inside and outside, as well as ‘super-lightweight’ Carbon Fibre racing seats and extended gear shift paddles. Going Pro is an extra few thousand and for that you get a six-point race harness, MSO harness bar and titanium wheelnuts.

McLaren 600LT review ─ The Lowdown

McLaren 600LT review ─ A Tribe Called Cars

As a value proposition if you crave performance, the 600LT is almost unrivalled. It is also the closest thing to the Senna that McLaren currently makes, which means if you want a brutally fast, involving car that actually works on a track and the road, you should already be on the way to a dealer.

Maybe some petrolheads will argue that the 600LT’s proximity to the Senna is a bad thing given the immense price difference. The reality is that if you want something to be road legal, comfortable and usable, sacrifices have to be made and the Senna makes the least of them. Driven back to back, the Senna is on another level of prowess and insanity.

But the 600LT is close enough to give you a taste for one quarter-ish (before extras) of the price, with nearly as much performance, capability, involvement and excitement. And because it is easy to drive fast, even if you aren’t a race driver, taking the 600LT to the track for a day will make you feel like one.

McLaren 600LT review – Key Specs

  • Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8
  • Top speed: 204mph
  • 0-62mph (100kmh): 2.9 seconds
  • 0-124mph (200kmh): 8.2 seconds
  • Fuel economy: mpg combined
  • CO2 emissions: 276g/km (WLTP)
  • Price: £185,500
McLaren 600LT review ─ Senna Insanity on a Budget?
Breathtakingly fast and honed, yet still accessible, the McLaren 600LT is a truly inspiring machine to drive and one that is potentially the best-value supercar on sale right now.
Performance
Handling
Enjoyment
Cool-factor
Usability
The Good
  • Blisteringly fast
  • Wonderfully loud
  • Involving
The Bad
  • Interior revisions are less radical
  • Extras really bump up the price
  • Less practical than the 570S
4.6The Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Editor-in-Chief

Ben Griffin is a motoring journalist and founder of the website and YouTube channel, A Tribe Called Cars. He is also a contributor at DriveTribe.

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