Lightening Seed [COTY2018] : McLaren 600LT Driven [review]

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McLaren sows the seeds to fast and furious fun in every 'Longtail'

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For a lot of us, getting the 'feels' from a sportscar isn't linked to just outright speed, something that the guys who constantly ask "how fast?" don't seem to get. Every generation of sportscars is developed in line with the theory of evolution, and is tuned to be faster, sharper and more powerful than its predecessors.

(If you missed it, click HERE for our COTY2018 intro)

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However, these are the results of engineering efforts – the real magic comes in tweaking the car to deliver the 'feels', because otherwise, all work (at going as fast as possible) and no play makes for a dull car, especially if it's piled on the pounds at the same time (as most do). McLaren's latest track-honed 'Longtail' model, the 600LT, disrupts that notion as well as the establishment, because it's not only fast, it hs great aesthetic detail and is feelsomely fun to drive as well.

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Our last outing in a 'Longtail' model was in the 675LT Coupe. It was a visceral eye-opener when we thrashed it around the Sepang Circuit and remains a memorable drive to this day. The steering feel, sparkling chassis and agile lightness of being worked in perfect harmony with the explosive engine to create a real beast that would egg the driver on through show-and-tell – the 'show' of the blurred scenery whizzing past, and the 'tell' from the constant communication through steering and butt.

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It's little surprise then, that in creating the 600LT Coupe, the McLaren boffins didn't so much look outside the company as it did within, specifically to the 675LT as a starting point. All in, the 600LT Coupe is the first-ever Sport Series model to benefit from the 'Longtail' treatment and as you can see, it has huge shoes to fill.

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It looks every bit the purposeful, track-ready sportscar you'd expect based on the brief, and don't forget, McLaren has always been a card-carrying member of the league of extraordinary exotics. It certainly has the show to accompany the go, as the 600LT has plenty of aesthetic detail to make it a visual treat for sportscars fans.

(Click HERE to read about our First Drive of the McLaren 600LT)

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We're already into the fourth 'Longtail' in McLaren's 'modern' history (the 600LT Spider was recently unveiled to join its Coupe counterpart, in addition to the earlier Super Series 675LT Coupe and Spider). If you want to look further back, the progenitor of the series, the F1 GTR 'Longtail', was launched in 1997 (so that's five LTs if you include it), but that was a different time for the brand compared to today's McLaren Automotive.

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Photo credit: David Khoo)

As far as we know, no 675LTs were registered in Singapore due to its relatively high price in comparison to the more conventional choices of the time, the 458 Speciale at S$1.2+m and the 991.1 GT3 RS at just under S$1m. With its new range of models from the 720S onwards, the brand has rationalised the prices across the range in Singapore, with the 600LT starting from S$819k before COE and options, or roughly 991.2 GT3 RS money.

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The recipe for a belligerent track-ready sportscar is a simple, tried-and-tested one: weight down, power up, sharpened dynamics and aggro aero. And if you're McLaren, throw top-mount exhaust tailpipes into the equation, especially when they can be incited to shoot flames!

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It is functional first, funky second: with less plumbing used, there are weight savings and back-pressure is reduced – it has also been designed to work with the aero and heat management measures. Last but not least, the centre of the fixed rear spoiler is ceramic-coated so it will withstand repeated ‘blasts’ of flame from the tailpipes – testament to McLaren's attention to detail.

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McLaren, Porsche and Ferrari all get it right with the cabins of their special series models – having the credentials isn't enough, because the cabin needs to put the driver in the mood for fast driving too, and the race buckets (the ultra-lightweight Senna seats are also an option), low-slung seating position and driver ergonomics contribute in no small part to the racy ambience. Apart from the Monocell II carbonfibre tub, a lot of body panels are made of the same lightweight stuff to shed weight, and the 600LT weighs-in at 100kg less than the 570S – this in spite of its 47mm longer back (hence the Longtail moniker!).

(Click HERE to read about our First Drive of the McLaren 600LT)

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The 600LT is versatile enough to be driven as precisely or as playfully as you like, and it's been awhile since we've had our senses bombarded by a constant stream of 'old-school' communication from the moment you 'plug' yourself into the driver's seat.

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You don't realise how desensitised you've become with modern cars until you slip into something like the 600LT, which lets you get into the thick of fun and furious action the moment you turn a wheel in anger... and if that doesn't sow the seeds for a rowdy, rambunctious drive, we don't know what will.

PHOTOS Zotiq Visuals

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McLAREN 600LT
Engine: 3799cc, V8, twin-turbo
Power/rpm: 600hp/7500rpm
Torque/rpm: 620Nm/5500-6500rpm
Transmission: 7spd SSG dual-clutch
0-100km/h: 2.9secs
Top Speed: 328km/h
Fuel Consumption: 11.7l/100km
CO2: 266g/km

David Khoo
Author: David Khoo
David is a big petrolhead who has been dabbling in the car trade since 2001 and currently oversees Top Gear Singapore. His stories often take an eclectic slant from the predictable, and he's able to craft a compelling read that lets you see the cars (often old!) in a new light.