Short Story of a Long Tail

The definition “Driver’s Car” is perhaps the greatest compliment one can make to any car in the World. In the petrolhead’s dictionary equals as defining it simply as “great” and that has all the attributes to make it memorable to drive. Just like surfers look for that perfect board, we look for that perfect car that you won’t ever forget. 

McLaren is perhaps one of the most interesting manufacturers out there today and they clearly seem to be on fire: from the P1 GTR to the Senna and to the gorgeous 720S they’re producing a successful streak of fabulous motorcars. 

The Sports Series have been praised by their well-balanced nature between the extreme nature of a supercar and the flexible character of a road car. The 570 is a great and refined GT and as soon as it was introduced, it immediately showed a potential which was greater than expected. Sometimes, manufacturers build a car that they think customers want but they end up with something completely off what was actually requested: with McLaren’s Sport Series this is not the case. Sadly, this has been the trend for some manufacturers in the past few years: for people who drive their cars very rarely, there’s the need for something usable.  The new 600 LT is exactly what was needed. It’s blessed by the LT (aka for Long Tail, as it is 74mm longer than the 570S) name, just like the previous 675S and F1, and it’s the most powerful Sports Series McLaren built to date. Heavily revised in almost every aspect it’s the kind of car which is suitable for the road and a proper driver’s car. Why? Simple: it’s got analogical feedback everywhere. 

Is it an everyday supercar? Nope. As much as we’d like to put on many miles and go through many sets of tires, the 600 LT is the one to savour and enjoy. It’s like that special stash of wine, the one to enjoy when you want to have something special. It’s rigid than the normal and the three way suspension setting only go hard-harder-hardest on the settings; the gearbox is savage when used in track mode and the response from the throttle and the brakes is instantaneous yet easy to use. 

This could be the kind of car where you put few miles, but the most significant ones. It’s properly connected to the road. Besides everything, you should focus of the fact that this car is perhaps the most interesting of all current sportcars: the steering gives you great feedback and there’s a genuine sense of mechanical connection with what the car is doing. 

The seating position is perfectly laid out and you can adjust your position with ease and immediacy. It boasts an impressive level of professionalism: this is no joke, this car has been made by professionals and marketed as such. Besides the LT namesake, dearest to McLaren and its fans, this one is not a marketing-oriented supercar, it’s a driver’s car, a proper one. 

In full attack mode, with both the switches set to “Track”, it feels like a true supersports road car: it’s not a racing car with a license plate (partly because our car had not the front one), but a road car first and foremost. In track mode the gearbox changes are savage and GT3-like. Oh…did I mention it shoots flames from the exhaust? Oh yeah, the LT lives up to the same pyrotechnic expectation of its predecessors, a fine shenanigans tradition started by the almighty MP12C. 

It is completely faultless? Of course not. The engine is not as responsive as you wish it to be and has a slow to pick up from low revs and in slow corners, which can be frustrating at times. However, when it revs up high, from 4500 rpm onwards, it becomes fantastic. The LT sounds like a modern day race car: not emotional but rather professional. From the two high-mounted rear pipes it emits a snarl which could fit a LMP2 or any current GT3 racer: it’s not emotional, it’s professional. 

Yet, what gets under your skin is the driving experience. It’s connected in every possible way with you and the road, transmitting everything to your brain. Besides looking gorgeous, it behaves impeccably, with neutral handling. A proper road racer,  the LT is ideal to be driven on the same roads of the Mille Miglia, where during the last years of the race the final and fastest section of the course was laid out. Through these empty and silent villages of farmers passed true masterpieces at speeds close to 300kph. Despite McLaren has no history at the Mille Miglia, driving the car on these roads is somewhat a connection with the fascination of speed: the LT name indicates that the car is longer than the standard one, a name which alone is rich in history.

Whether the 600LT is simple to use and it is very intuitive, it is not a praise to simplicity, of course itself. If you’re a proper geek, you know that it is a magnificent engineering tour de force, made simple for us: it’s like having hieroglyphs made understandable for everyone.

To start with, the whole car has been substantially modified from the standard 570S in every area. The gorgeous bodywork is a clever labyrinth that channels the airflow to generate downforce and less drag. Featuring a longer front and rear section  and a fixed aerodynamic package, the new LT is able to generate 100kg of downforce at 250kph, balanced between 40% at the front and at 60% at the rear. Thanks to the extended front splitter (+72mm) and the lowered (-8mm) ride height, the airflow is optimized both above and underneath the car, allowing for more grip and high-speed stability. The front splitter is also responsible for managing the airflow towards the low temperature radiators (LTRs) located beneath each headlight unit and to the front brakes.  Thanks to the side winglets in front of the car, the airflow is kept away from the wheelarches, vital to minimize turbulence and to direct cleaner air towards the high temperature radiators located in the rear air-vents. Interestingly, the top-mounted exhaust helps cooling and gives aerodynamic advantage, as the flow of hot air is directed on the wing, coated with thermo-resistant material in order to withstand high temperatures. The forged-aluminium suspensions use elements from the Super Series featuring both the front and rear double wishbones and suspension uprights of the 720S and the tires are specially developed Pirelli Trofeo Rs. Ultra-lightweight wheels help reduce the unsprung mass and enhance the LT’s cornering ability and the carbo-ceramic brakes stop the car from 200 kph to 0 in just 117meters, only 1 meter more than the P1. 

So much for a car which finds itself perfectly at home in mountain passes and twisty roads. Is it possible to engineer feeling? Most likely, yes. Driving the McLaren 600 LT is a great sign of hope for all those who love driving first and foremost and this is a supercar made for drivers and not for posers. 

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