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REVIEW – McLaren 600LT Spider

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


McLaren 600LT Spider
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
5

Summary

The 600LT Spider is, in my eyes, one of the best McLarens ever made. It just gets everything right. The right amount of power, the right body styling and proportions, the right handling characteristics, the right noise. Definitely the right noise. It puts the driver in the centre of the action, and is communicative in a way few cars can match. It has all the benefits of being able to remove the roof, with no drawbacks.


Image Gallery

Exterior Styling

The letters “LT” are important in the world of McLaren. They stand for “Longtail”, and that is a badge given to the most performance-focused models. Traditionally they had, well, long tails. This was to improve aerodynamics and downforce, to maximise performance on track.

Nowadays the LT badge is more symbolic – it is given to the cars which have been enhanced and improved to be better on track. That being said the 600LT Spider you see here is still longer than the 570S on which it is based. It is a whole 74mm longer, thanks mostly to the prominent air scoops at either corner of the front bumper.

In any event the 600LT Spider is, in my view, one of the prettiest McLaren’s ever made. The proportions are just perfect. Where the 720S was a little long, and felt big from the driver’s seat, the 600LT Spider is most compact, and feels inherently more nimble and agile as a result.

At the front, the headlights are shaped like the McLaren Logo. You are drawn to the huge air scoops at first, but on closer inspection there are several subtle lines and ridges, designed to direct airflow around the side of the car. It’s a beautiful thing.

To the side the 600LT Spider gets 19-inch wheels at the front and 20-inch wheels at the rear. There are huge scoops to shovel cold air into the mid-mounted twin-turbo V8, and prominent side skirts. Dihedral doors are signature McLaren; as impressive as ever.

At the back the exhausts have been shortened from the 570S –exiting the top of the engine bay. There’s a fixed rear wing, a large rear diffuser and several vents to allow for heat dissipation. The tail lights are actually thin strips – the inner section is a mesh for ventilation.

Interior Finish

The interior of the 600LT Spider is as focused as the exterior aerodynamics. On the whole the design is minimalistic – there are few distractions for the driver. You immediately notice the lack of buttons, which makes it easier to find the ones you actually need.

As standard there is a lot of alcantara in the cabin. This not only looks purposeful, but has the benefit of reducing glare which can be invaluable when pushing hard on a track. This car, however, had the optional Leather LT interior in two-tone black/orange.

The craftsmanship in the tailoring of the interior is to be admired, and there’s a certain feel of luxury that alcantara just doesn’t give. Given that this particular car is heading to McLaren’s heritage fleet, I can absolutely see why it was configured this way, with an interior that compliments the Vermillion Red exterior. But, if it was my money, I’d still keep the standard alcantara.

One option I definitely would choose, however, is the carbon fibre racing seats. They are super lightweight, and consist of a carbon shell with leather-clad pads stuck on for a bit of comfort. Now known as the ‘Senna’ seats, they are a centrepiece befitting of this magnificent car.

The portrait infotainment screen is easy to glance at, whilst the Active Dynamics panel on the centre console is easy to operate by feel alone. This area is also where the engine start button, window and roof switches are located.

The digital driver display has several interfaces, and can display plenty of information such as powertrain status, tyre pressures and temperatures. The flat-bottomed steering wheel has plenty of reach/rake adjustment to get it positioned as you wish. I was able to set it closer to me and lower in my lap, which felt perfect.

Engine/Performance

The beating heart of the 600LT Spider is the M838TE engine; a 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged V8. It is mid-mounted for weight distribution, and sends power to the rear wheels only.

Reading the performance data of the McLaren 600LT Spider feels very much like a game of Top Trumps. And, with this card, you’re going to win a lot of rounds. Power is 600PS, with 620Nm of torque.

From resting, you will hit 62mph in 2.9 seconds, 124mph in 8.4 seconds and ultimately a top speed of 201mph.  A standing quarter mile takes 10.5 seconds. And from behind the wheel it feels every bit as fast as the figures suggest.

A firm stab at the loud pedal results in a momentary wait while the turbos spool up then you are hurled towards the horizon at a frightening pace. Once moving, with the turbos at full boost, the surge is relentless. It pins you back in your seat and your peripheral vision becomes a blur.

One of the key features of the 600LT Spider is the exhaust system. Instead of exiting at the bumper, like the 570S, they are located right on top of the engine bay. A shorter exhaust system saves weight.

It also means that the pipes are about 3 feet from the back of your head. So when you lower the roof, or the rear window, the soundtrack is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. People sometimes criticise McLaren’s for an underwhelming soundtrack. Not this one.

Push hard and it feels like the V8 is screaming angrily, directly into your ear drums. You get to enjoy every tantalising pop and crack on gear change, thanks to ignition-cut shifting technology on the SSG gearbox. It is a sensory delight, in a way that the coupe would not be.

Ride/Handling

The other advantage of having the exhausts on top of the engine is that it frees up space in the bumper area. This allows the 600LT Spider to have a very aggressive rear diffuser, helping to generate downforce and stick the car to the road.

It’s this kind of detail that highlights the ethos of ‘LT’. The aerodynamic package on the 600LT is that little bit more extreme, designed to eke out the extra few miles per hour in every corner that add up to a big difference on the track.

And despite looking like quite a large car, the 600LT Spider weighs 1,297kg. Consider this – the 600LT Coupe weighs from 1,247kg. So even though it has a hard-top roof, with electrical operation, the Spider is only 50kg heavier, which is a remarkable feat of engineering.

And ultimately it means the 600LT Spider feels light, and nimble. The electro-hydraulic power steering lets you know what the front wheels are doing on the road; it has proper feel. What’s more, it is direct to the point where you can aim the McLaren at every apex, and hit it perfectly every time.

Grip is excellent thanks to 225-section front and 285-section rear tyres. You can choose between Pirelli P-Zero or P-Zero Trofeo R tyre, of which my car had the former. You also get independent adaptive dampers and double-wishbone suspension, the characteristics of which can be altered using the Active Dynamics panel.

Braking power comes from a carbon ceramic setup – with 390mm discs and 6-piston caliper at the front, 380mm and 4-piston caliper at the rear. There is good feel in the brake pedal, and they are progressive enough to cope with low-speed gentle braking.

Economy

There isn’t much to say on the economy of a McLaren 600LT Spider. Whether I said it does 5mpg or 55mpg is likely to make zero influence on anybody’s decision to buy one or not.

Nonetheless, in the interests in a consistently thorough review, I will say what few things there are to say about the subject.

The combined fuel consumption on the WLTP cycle is 23.2mpg. And whilst any spirited driving will see this drop sharply – into single figures, at times – it is also possible to exceed this quoted figure.

Take my journey from Woking, where I picked up the car, to Lancashire, where I live. A 250-mile trip where I took my time and just enjoyed getting to know the car. On that journey it averaged 31.3mpg which, I’m sure you’d agree, is pretty impressive.

The 600LT Spider has stop/start technology, and that 7-speed SSG gearbox is very eager to shift up in Normal mode. You can nip through town at tick-over; the engine is comfortable throughout the rev range.

CO2 emissions are 276g/km, again on the WLTP cycle. That’s not half bad when you consider that this is a 200mph+ machine.

Since the McLaren is slightly over the £40,000 threshold (okay, not slightly. The options on this car alone were over £40,000…) you will pay the VED surcharge in years 2-6. But I dare say that anyone with £250,000 to spend on a car will be able to find the extra £335 a year.

Practicality

There is an assumption – and, for the most part, an understandable one – that supercars are inherently impractical. They are hard to get in and out of, have zero visibility and are generally unpleasant in stop/start urban traffic. That’s before you even consider the lack of storage space, astronomical depreciation and eye-watering running cost.

But don’t tar them all with the same brush. Especially not the 600LT Spider because, considering this is as focused a performance machine as you will find, it handles everyday life extremely well.

Luggage space is at a bit of a premium. The front storage compartment can hold 150 litres, which is just about enough for a couple of overnight bags. In addition, there is storage underneath the tonneau cover behind the seats. This must, however, be empty if retracting the roof, so is best not to be relied upon.

As for life on the road, the Active Dynamics panel really allows you to dial back and wind up the 600LT Spider as you see fit. So when driving through town with the powertrain and handling both in Normal mode, it is pretty well-behaved. Gentle acceleration is manageable, and the gearbox works exceptionally at low speeds, keeping the revs at little more than idle.

Inevitably you will come across speed bumps, or awkward road cambers that could usually stop a supercar in its tracks. But providing you have the Security Pack, and can therefore raise the nose, the 600LT Spider is able to continue down the road.

Visibility is also great in this car. The strength of the carbon fibre chassis allows for a low scuttle and large windscreen, which gives the driver an excellent viewpoint of the road ahead. The rear-view camera also helps when manoeuvring or parking.

Equipment

Whilst there may be an abundance of personalisation options available on the 600LT Spider, many of these are stylistic; paints, wheels, interior trims and materials for example. The standard list of equipment is – as you’d hope for a car like this – quite extensive.

On the infotainment front, all cars get the 7-inch, portrait touchscreen system which has satellite navigation, buetooth connectivity, on-board memory and voice control. You also get McLaren Track Telemetry (MTT) with lap time function – great for those looking to take their 600LT Spider on track for some ultimate thrills.

Driver assistance comes in the form of anti-lock braking system, dynamic electronic stability control, traction control, hill hold assist, brake assist and cruise control. Because you have many different settings available through the Active Dynamics panel, none of these assist systems ever feel like they are spoiling the driving experience, which contributes to the communicative feel in the 600LT Spider.

Keyless entry and go is standard, as is an immobiliser and alarm with tilt sensors. And whilst Euro NCAP don’t test cars like this, occupants can be assured by front and side airbags, in addition to the strength of that carbon fibre chassis.

The headlights and taillights are full-LED, the door mirrors are electrically-adjustable and foldable, and the hardtop roof can be retracted and raised electrically.

In addition to the visual upgrades, this car benefited from a 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system, soft close doors, power-adjustable steering column with comfort exit/entry and the Security Pack. This comprises vehicle lift, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera and car cover. It is an essential option in our opinion, the ability to raise the front of the car is invaluable.

Value For Money

The concept of value for money is a strange one when it comes to cars like the McLaren 600LT Spider. Generally speaking, supercars are not designed to offer value, they are designed to offer the pinnacle of motoring to those who can afford them.

That’s why you often find a much higher degree of customisation available on these cars, allowing the individual to get the exact specification they desire. Ironically it is the value of these extras that lost on resale since they are so individual. One man’s carbon fibre is another man’s coffee cup.

Anyway, on to the specifics of this McLaren 600LT Spider. The starting price of this car is £201,500. But with the array of options fitted to this car, the price as tested is an eye-watering £249,840. And it is a hefty £29,380 of those extras that relate to carbon fibre.

The result is one of the lightest configurations of the 600LT Spider. It’s also one of the most visually-appealing, with all that beautiful carbon fibre everywhere.

With modern supercars, it’s hard to know the ones that will appreciate in the future. Perhaps nobody at the time thought that the iconic McLaren F1 would become worth what it is today. Again, though, most people aren’t buying these cars to make money.

All that being said, the McLaren 600LT Spider represents a great buy. In terms of what it offers as a driver’s car, there is a level of communication here that is rarely found elsewhere. It is also achingly beautiful, proudly British and loved by petrolheads everywhere.

In a world where internal combustion is on a very limited shelf life, this may go down as the last of its kind. And you can’t put a price on that.

Facts and Figures

Engine 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Max power 600PS at 7,500rpm
Max torque 620Nm at 5,500 – 6,500rpm
Drivetrain 7-speed SSG automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph 2.9 seconds
Top speed 201mph
Fuel tank size 72 litres
Fuel consumption 23.2 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 276 g/km WLTP
Kerb weight 1,297kg
Towing capacity N/A braked / N/A unbraked
Luggage capacity 150 litres (front)
NCAP rating N/A
Base price £201,500
Price as tested £249,840
Company website cars.mclaren.com/gb-en/sports-series/600lt-spider

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