The hardcore McLaren 600LT has landed with vertical exhausts


It's another lighter, faster, air-bothering McLaren, but it doesn't look like the Senna. Result!

Welcome to this month’s new wing with a McLaren attached. With the internet’s resting heart-rate finally recovering from the palpitations induced by the challenging appearance of the 789bhp McLaren Senna, Woking has aimed its stripping-out sockets and souping-up spanners at the entry-level Sports Series model, better know to you and I as the 570S. The result, now packing an extra 30bhp, wearing lighter body panels, and brandishing a fiendish aerodynamic non-flight suit, is the 600LT. This is McLaren’s new Longtail.


As per the sublime 675LT – the hollowed-out hardcore 650S we fell for back in 2015 – ‘Longtail’ is more of a philosophy than a literal extension of the rump – and in truth, a handy marketing tie-in for McLaren to hark back to the F1 GTR ‘Longtails’ that won the 1997 Le Mans GT1 class. The 600LT’s lippier front splitter and rear diffuser stalactites elongate the car a smidge (okay, 74mm), but they’re literally the tips of a ruthless wind tunnel remodeling.


Chief among the tweaks is that carbonfibre surfboard. There’s no slippery DRS or airbrake party tricks here – the wing stays firmly fixed in place whichever drive mode you’re using – but that’s not to say it’s without theatre. Notice that matt section above the wing’s supporting spars? That’s a heat-resistant area necessitated by the new top-exit exhausts. McLaren’s shifted the pipes to the engine deck to make room for a more effective diffuser and gain some extra downforce by funneling superheated gases over the rear wing, but the surface has to wear a flameproof suit to come with the temperature generated by the 3.8-litre bi-turbo V8. Proper supercar pub ammo, that.


The V8 develops an extra 20Nm, so 620Nm now arrives at the rear wheels’ stickier tyres via the 7spd dual-clutch gearbox, but that’s only by virtue of reduced backpressure from the shortcutted exhaust. This is still a pretty familiar McLaren V8, albeit aided by an upgraded cooling system. The 720S has donated its brakes and lighter aluminium suspension components – though the 600LT remains relatively old-school for a McLaren by shunning hydraulically-linked dampers for classic anti roll bars.


McLaren’s yet to reveal how fast the 600LT will cover the standard benchmarks – 0-100, 0-200km/h, and top speed – but with its dollop of extra poke and a 96kg weight saving thanks to carbon addenda, the miniaturised exhaust and racier suspension, it’s going to be a lot quicker than any ‘baby Mac’ jesting suggests. The 570S is already good for 0-100 in 3.4sec, 0-200 in 9.4sec, and 330km/h flat out.


Thing is, we never revered the last Longtail for outright pace. No, we loved its savagery, and how its controls fizzed with feedback and thrills without requiring a racetrack and a self-preservation bypass to enjoy. The 675LT was the moment McLaren Automotive truly came good, forged a machine worthy of the iconic F1, and banished the notion it was as clinical as a surgeon’s washroom. That’s the legacy the 600LT has to live up to.


Course, you can choose how hardcore you want it. The Senna’s ultra-lightweight barely-padded seats are an optional extra here. You can spec near-slick Pirelli Trofeo R tyres, which saw duty on the P1 hypercar in a previous life, and the price includes attendance of a McLaren-only owners track day.


So, it’s the Sports Series, with 23 per cent new parts, all of which make it lighter, louder or faster. See, you don’t really need a Senna after all.


STORY Ollie Kew

Author: TopGear
Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is the most widely watched factual television programme in the world.