style

McLaren 600LT Spider: 'Less weight, more muscle, best seen topless'

What’s not to like about a car that confirms McLaren’s upward trajectory?

2019-02-22

As surely as any of the fine gentlemen moved to shed their clothes hereabouts, McLaren isn’t especially keen on excess weight. The company is the automotive equivalent of the man for whom simply going to the gym isn’t enough: he has the pre- and post-workout drinks, the fast-wicking sportswear and trainers so light as to be hand-stitched from gossamer.

You know, the guy with 40,000 Instagram followers and (probably) an onlyfans account.

Much to admire one might argue – a compelling blend of muscle without mass, combined to optimum effect, best viewed topless. Which, rather neatly, via a link that would shame a Radio 2 DJ, brings us to the new McLaren 600LT Spider.

In many ways there’s less of it than you’d imagine – 100kg less, in fact. Compared to its 570S sister car, the wheels and tyres are lighter (-17kg), the glass is thinner (-2.1kg), the suspension is aluminium (-10.2kg), carbon fibre racing seats are but shells and padding (-21kg), the carpets are gone (-5kg), air conditioning, audio and sat nav are absent (-15.9kg), brakes are lightweight (-4kg) and even the glovebox and door pockets are cut (-1kg).

Best of all, though, the rear deck is newly capped with top-exit stainless steel exhausts, and while they save a further 12.6kg that doesn’t matter half as much as their ability to blow flames into the air on the over-run. And that’s just plain cool.

So 100kg less, then. And, priced from £201,500, a premium of nearly £50,000 more than its (only slightly) softer and less powerful 570S Spider sibling. Thereby proving the less is more adage – as the 600LT coupe did last year – were there nothing else to it. But the 600LT has more of things, too. Like more power and more performance. And more grip. And more noise.

As befits a McLaren wearing the LT (‘LongTail’) badge, which has a history of enhanced aero and higher performance going back to the legendary F1 GTR Le Mans cars of the late 1990s, the 600LT Spider is simply the lightest, most powerful and quickest road-legal McLaren Sports Series Spider model yet. That means a 201mph top speed, a searing 0-60mph sprint time of just 2.8 seconds and a borderline ridiculous 0-124mph (0-200kmh) time of 8.4 seconds.

Our first chance to drive the car came, incredibly, among cactus fields beyond the city limits of Scottsdale, Arizona – where desert landscapes and undulating, twisting switchbacks provide a movie-scale backdrop hobbled only by speed limits that fluctuate between 25mph and 65mph. Not that it matters. You can see – even in short bursts – the range of capability.

 

Oddly, though, for all of the fire and fury of the performance, for all the visceral appeal of a soundtrack ripped from the heavens, what’s left is the feeling of a car that can change direction like no other. It pivots about you with precision and such a lightness of touch that, I swear, it could run wide onto the desert sand without leaving a footprint. And that’s sublime.

McLaren 600LT. 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged V8, 592bhp (600PS), 457lb/ft torque, 0-60mph in 2.8 seconds, top speed 201mph, seven-speed automatic, combined 24.1mpg, 266g/km CO2. £201,500.

www.cars.mclaren.com