Choosing the best car I drove in 2018 wasnt easy. It was mid-December – the season when every journalist is contractually obliged to churn out end-of-year lists – and I had whittled my top 10 down to two.
In the Lizard Green corner sat the Porsche 911 GT3 RS: a hardcore, limited-run special with more power, less weight and aggressive aero. In the Papaya Orange corner was the McLaren 600LT: a hardcore, limited-run special with… you get the idea. With Christmas deadlines looming, I plumped for the McLaren, despite only having tried it on-track. Now, after driving it on UK roads, Im confident I made the right call.
The Longtail (LT) name harks back to the Le Mans-winning McLaren F1 GTR, but the 600LT is the first junior Sports Series McLaren to get the treatment. Some 23 percent of parts differ from a 570S, almost all of them focused on going faster. Its 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 is stoked to produce 600hp at 7,500rpm, while dry weight falls 100kg to just 1,247kg. Forged aluminium suspension and carbon-ceramic brakes are borrowed from the 720S, a fixed rear wing and racing-style diffuser help deliver 100kg of downforce at 155mph, and bespoke Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres offer motorsport-grade adhesion. The upshot, says McLaren, is higher cornering speeds than the Super Series 675LT – still the fastest car around the Top Gear track.
My first encounter with the 600LT takes place at the Hungaroring. A bona fide Formula One circuit near Budapest, its a fitting – if somewhat intimidating – place to test a track-tuned supercar. Still, needs must. I pull on a full-face helmet, swing the door upwards and slide into the Senna seat – a thinly-padded carbon fibre shell. Like everything about the 600LT, it feels pared-back and ruthlessly functional. The engine idles fretfully, its stentorian throb echoing off the pit wall. My mirrors are clouded by shimmering heat haze from the top-exit exhausts. The marshal beckons me forward…
What follows is dizzyingly intense and dazzlingly brilliant. The McLaren serves up violent speed, joining the dots between apices with laser-like focus. Driven back-to-back with a 570S, every input feels more measured; its steering is immediate, body control is absolute and gear shifts are whipcrack-fast. Braking from 160mph at the end of the main straight, the regular car goes light and loses composure; the LT stays flat and unflustered.
Unlike some supercars, the McLaren is sensibly sized for UK roads, with amazing forward visibility over its plunging scuttle.
Fast-forward six months to a country lane in deepest Sussex. The McLarens suspension, so taut and tenacious on a racetrack, feels firm and unflinching here, lacking the supple fluidity of a 720S. Thankfully, everything else about the 600LT is as fantastic as I remembered. Its rabidly quick – every gap becomes an overtaking opportunity – yet lucid and engaging enough to be fun at sane speeds.Read More – Source