Ian Lamming is caught in the magical web of McLaren’s 600LT Spider.
Posted by Ian Lamming on Thursday, 31 October 2019
HAVE you noticed? Yorkshire folk are taking over the world. But that’s okay by me as there’s Yorkshire blood flowing through these veins.
Not satisfied with staging the country’s premier cycling event, the Tour de Yorkshire, being the biggest county in Britain with the lion’s share of the best scenery, they are now staking claim to one of the world’s best sports car makers, McLaren.
What? I hear you cry. Or as we say up North, ya wot? Yorkshire is now McLaren’s second home after opening its Composites Technology Centre, between Sheffield and Rotherham. McLaren’s biggest free-standing dealership in Europe has just opened its doors on the outskirts of Leeds and if that’s not enough, the firm’s chief designer is from Yorkshire, Rawdon to be precise. Now that’s what I call a takeover bid. Right grand, eh?
It is hard to think that the automotive arm of the firm has only been making cars since 2010, the first customer grabbing his 12C the following year. Since then they have made a significant mark on the world of hypersports and supercars and their plans for the future are as ambitious as they are exciting – 18 new cars are on their way including a replacement for the legendary P1.
Until then I’ll ‘make do’ with driving the 600LT Spider and looking at and licking the brand new GT, the latest model to be designed by that grand ex-Bentham School lad Rob Melville.
The 600LT is extreme McLaren. It’s a longtail and built for performance, image and to scare people and pets with its aggressive looks and snarling exhaust note.
Standing on the asphalt, in chicane grey, it hugs the ground so tightly that it looks like a bump in the road. Lift the dihedral driver’s door and drop into the low cabin and it feels like the cockpit of a spacecraft. The sports seats only move back and forth and the rear cushion and squab are tilted back, as if you are on a launchpad awaiting take off. Close the door and the aeronautical feeling is even more pronounced.
The tiny Alcantara steering wheel is adjustable and the cockpit is a swathe of texture, whether that is leather, alloy or carbon fibre.
Press the starter and the 3.8 litre twin turbo V8 bursts into life offering a characteristic McLaren aural assault. Drop the rear window and there is nothing between you and the top exiting exhausts – designed to shorten the pipework and therefore save weight.
Everything is extreme, including the aerodynamics, everything is designed to be light, such as the carbon fibre body panels and roof, the titanium wheel bolts. This thing weighs 100kg less than the 570 but turns out more power. That makes it as quick as the 720.
Sprint time to 60mph is a bewildering 2.8 seconds, the quarter mile comes up in 10.5 seconds and the top speed is 201mph. To put that in context, by the time my car hits 60mph, the 600LT is doing about 130mph. That’s crazy fast.
Equally astounding are the carbon ceramic brakes which will stop the McLaren from 60mph in 100ft – now that’s not in the Highway Code.
Once under way LT is surprisingly easy to drive thanks to an excellent seven speed automatic transmission and amazingly comfortable ride. The power steering remains hydraulic, rather than the now ubiquitous electric and the difference is stark offering the driver so much more feel and feedback.
Feel-good knows no bounds. When you are in the McLaren nothing else matters; not the state of the country, nor the condition of the roads, not the quality of the scenery, nor the severity of the weather – who cares, you are in a McLaren, society’s answer to good mental health.
On swamped motorways the Pirelli P-Zeros displace water like the stream of artics that are dumping gallons of spray on the uber-low windscreen. There’s little chance to test the stunning performance of the LT so it’s time to play with the paddles, trying 70mph in seventh, then sixth and fifth…all the way down to second – wow, that’s loud.
Pulling back into McLaren Leeds, the brand’s most northernly English outpost, I instantly want to go straight back out again; you simply never get enough of the McLaren experience.
But inside the showroom is the new GT, a car I think would be even more suited to my lifestyle.
The decathlete of the range, GT is a new class of McLaren harking back to the original ethos of grand touring. It is quick (3.2 secs to 60mph), fast (203mph), powerful (620PS).
But it is plush, more relaxed and comfortable, while being practical too. There are 150 litres of storage under the bonnet, 420 in the boot, room enough for golf clubs and luggage. The rear section is cooled so luggage isn’t affected by engine heat and there’s the option of a ‘superfabric’, developed with the help of NASA, that can even withstand the cutting edge of a Stanley knife. Expect GT to drip in high quality leather and cashmere, with touch points in machined alloy.
Hi-tech extends to the roof – which is electrochromic – switching from solid to transparent at the touch of a button.
Oh, how the limited-to-600 LT sates the appetite for scintillating motoring – only for it to be whetted again by the new GT. It’s all enough to get my Yorkshire blood stirring, pumping and rushing to my extremities. Only a McLaren does that to me.
McLaren 600LT Spider
Engine: 3.8 litre V8
0-60mph: 2.8 secs
Top speed: 201mph
Combined MPG: 23.2
Transmission: seven-speed auto
CO2 g/km: 276
Price: from £201,500.00