Superb steering feel, crisp handling, immaculate balance, endless fun—the McLaren 600LT is a shockingly good track car while still being quite friendly on the street. It has a lot going for it—and we’re not only talking about the 592 horsepower thundering away just behind your kidneys. Here’s a rundown of our favorite aspects about the supercar, and, because nothing is truly perfect, a few areas for improvement in McLaren’s top-tier Sports Series model.
The Best Things
The sound! The decidedly mechanical cacophony is a sweet one, rawer and realer than your typical $200,000-ish supercar. It sounds, actually, a bit like a race car. Its noises are best enjoyed in the Spider version, obviously.
The look! One of McLaren’s best applications of its Nike swoosh-like styling theme, and certainly the most attractive of the oft-awkward Sports Series, the 600LT leaves no doubt you’re looking at something very special.
The acceleration! This thing is quick, and not just in a streetlight drag-race way. You’re already going 80 mph? Blink twice and you’re doing 120.
The deceleration! With a high, firm, short-travel brake pedal, the feel and modulation is very good, but it’s perhaps the overall stopping power that’ll recalibrate most drivers’ behinds. Perform a few good full-pedal stops from speed and you might feel like your neck is a bit longer.
The handling! It’s a bit like praising an air-cooled Porsche’s steering feel—duh, McLarens handle great, eyeroll—but even driven back-to-back with other truly great supercars, the 600LT stands out as among the very best cars extant.
The DIY! A lot of supercars these days are doing as much of the driving as we are. McLaren does throw some safety nets out there for you with its multi-mode powertrain and chassis/traction control settings, but if you put everything in track mode, you’d better be ready to do the job yourself. No transistors will be coming to save you.
The Worst Things
The sound! While the race-ready racket is amazing when you’re caning the car through the canyons, the 600LT’s exhaust thrum can be a bit much—even deafening—in daily driving. Forget about taking that call as you drive in to work; you’ll either need to pull over and turn off the engine or wait until you get there. Actually, now that we look at it that way, this isn’t a bad thing at all . . .
The seats! If you’re a trim, fit, narrow-hipped, not-too-broad-shouldered person, you’ll love the McLaren 600LT’s sculpted, minimally-padded, heavily bolstered buckets. If you’re anything else, the seats are going to pinch and bind at least one portion of your non-McLaren-issue anatomy.
The electronics! While the portrait orientation of the center-stack screen is not only more logical than landscape for in-car use but also more space-efficient, it’s a roll of the dice if it’ll actually boot each time you start the car. Fortunately, if it doesn’t load at all, loads but doesn’t respond, or just starts freaking out on you, an ignition cycle generally solves the problem.
The electronics, part 2! Unfortunately, McLaren has baked in some more wonkery: The touchscreen isn’t very sensitive to inputs, the software is slow to respond when it does register a press, and the graphical design actually reminds me a lot of a menu system I wrote for my Hewlett-Packard 48G back in the mid-1990s. It wasn’t great in that application, either.