Home / Auto / McLaren 600LT Spider 2019 REVEW – Exclusive first drive and impressions

McLaren 600LT Spider 2019 REVEW – Exclusive first drive and impressions

McLaren 600LT Spider

McLaren 600LT Spider (Image: MCLAREN)

Before driving the 600LT a lot of people who have driven it before will gushingly describe how magnificent it is like a parent telling you how fantastic their child is. At the end of the day without ever having that relationship with it then you’re going to struggle to connect and how wonderful can it really be? What sets it apart?

Right off the bat, there are a few practical problems with the car. Firstly the rear view visibility is pretty poor and doesn’t really offer much in the way of a view as the areas where the roof retreats into is curved in such a way it obscures much of what you need to see.

Secondly, the infotainment system and screen isn’t great and seems wilfully outdated. The screen and infotainment system doesn’t feel like it was designed for a premium car and the navigation was a bit iffy in places. 

However, compared to other McLaren supercars this is one of the more comfortable ones to be in. It seems roomier than the 720s when you’re driving but with its minimalist setup it gets just one seating control to move it forward and back and one steering wheel control to telephoto it forwards and back and up and down.

You can get pretty comfortable in the car which is positive but the passenger seat is not adjustable meaning it’s a ‘one size fits all’ situation. Thankfully it’s still relatively comfortable for the most part although you may get restless after elongated periods of time.

Alcantara may not be for everyone but it gives you a nice solid grip of the steering wheel and it doesn’t get too hot or uncomfortable when you’re driving for a long time, especially in the blaring Arizona sunshine, which is where the car was put through its paces.

One thing that must not be overlooked is the absolutely incredible job McLaren did with the retractable roof. The three-piece, powered retractable hardtop roof, takes around 15 seconds to fold down at speeds of up to 25mph. It’s not only secure and water resistant when it’s up but when it’s retracted and you’re travelling even at motorway speeds there is very little cabin interference.

Convertibles on paper always seem like the more appealing package as you get the best of both worlds but often they can be undermined by poor design. You can spend most of your time batting the hair out of your eyes and squinting as the wind assaults your eyelids with unwavering relent.

McLaren 600LT Spider

McLaren 600LT Spider (Image: MCLAREN)

Inside the 600LT Spider it’s a completely different story. The chaos remains on the outside of the cabin allowing you to enjoy everything else and focus entirely on the driving and hearing those stunning engine notes and you kick up the gears.

What’s more, there is also an option to have the roof up but a small window at the rear open so you can still enjoy the soundtrack of the engine on a rainy day. One caveat is that Express.co.uk did not test this during a rainstorm but McLaren reassured us that due to the way it is designed it will prevent rain from entering the cabin.

This design, however, is perhaps a bad thing for McLaren because of how capable it is with the roof up or down it begs the question why on earth would you buy the Coupe? Purists may argue you get the ultimate experience but if you had a Coupe and someone with the Spider pulled up next you on a summers day I defy them to not have any pangs of jealousy of the convertible.

The dual exhausts give a gorgeous engine note while you’re putting your foot down especially in sports mode when it splutters between changes. In seventh it sort of sounds like somebody strapped a jet engine to a canal boat. It’s an aggressive guttural roar due to the placement of the exhaust pipes on top of the car at the rear, a signature of Longtail (LT) motors. Inside the cabin it can at times feel drama-less at ‘standard’ town or motorway speeds but the soundtrack is the antithesis of that.

McLaren 600LT Spider

McLaren 600LT Spider (Image: MCLAREN)

Where the 600LT triumphs is in how well balanced it feels. It’s very receptive and involving. The steering is precise, sharp and does exactly what you want from it. It doesn’t have the same throw you into the back of your seat feeling that the 720S does when you put your foot down but it is still an incredibly fast and impressive vehicle.

It’s the less refined of the too but is also the one you should go for if you want a fun, balls to the wall sports car. There is also a split second of lag from the turbo when you put your foot down on the accelerator pedal it’s only momentary but if you stamp your foot down it there is an ever so slight delay but it is mostly unnoticeable on the road and only really was something we noticed on the track.

Rob Melville, Design Director, McLaren Automotive described the difficulty the British car firm had when incorporating these exhausts into the car.

“In creating the 600LT Coupé we took a radical decision to incorporate the top-exit exhausts, but it was an even greater challenge to make these work with the added complication of a retractable hardtop designed to operate whilst the car is in motion,” he said.

McLaren 600LT Spider

McLaren 600LT Spider (Image: MCLAREN)

“It was certainly worth the effort; not only have we retained the 600LT’s unique feature but we’ve also enhanced the visual and aural experience with the excitement and drama that only a spider can deliver.”

Where the 600LT differs from the 720S Spider is how it feels to drive. This is a ‘driver’s car’ which is an unhelpful term but it’s sort of the only way to correctly convey how it feels. The reasons for this are perhaps easier to communicate and the most important of which is the steering.

It’s so precise and accurate. There is a unity between you and machine, it does exactly what you want to do and gives you so much feedback which really helps with cornering especially at higher speeds. The suspension is fairly firm so you really feel every decision you make. It is an incredibly accomplished vehicle to drive and is confidence inspiring. It’s almost goading you to drive faster and you want to because you know it has your back. It’s got so much power and so effortlessly delivers it to you.

On a track if you take your foot off the power you can glide it into corners and then when you come out the other side you can stamp your foot to the floor and after a split second it comes back to life and charges you down a straight so quickly that you’ll be at 100mph before you even realise you’ve put your foot down. It’s addictive going from 20mph to 80mph in less time than it takes to read this sentence.

McLaren 600LT Spider

McLaren 600LT Spider (Image: MCALREN)

Speaking to McLaren employees and listening in to the briefing about the car you really get a sense of how passionate everyone is to challenge accepted norms and really push boundaries to create something exceptional. For example, the firm wasn’t satisfied to accept the same trappings a convertible has of being slower and heavier than a Coupe and endeavoured to remedy this by clever design and creating solutions to try and minis this gap.

For example, the car is 100kg lighter than the 570S Spider. It utilises its lightweight but incredibly strong carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis, which means it retains the structural integrity of the Coupe with a weight penalty of just 50kg. What this translates into is that it has a lightest dry weight of just 1,297kg, which is lighter than any of its rivals.

McLaren claims that this is at least 80kg less than any direct competitor and the resulting power-to-weight ratio of 463PS-per-tonne.

The weight penalties affect on the power is also fairly negligible. It is powered by the same twin-turbocharged, 3.8-litre, M838TE engine 592bhp and 620Nm powertrain as the Coupe paired with a seven-speed Gearbox. This allows the Spider to sprint from 0-60mph in just 2.9 seconds and from standing to 124 mph in just 8.4 seconds – an insignificant 0.2 seconds slower than the Coupé.

McLaren 600LT Spider

McLaren 600LT Spider (Image: MCLAREN)

Its top speed with the roof raised is 201 mph while it still reaches 196 mph with the roof down which means you’re not going to notice that reduction in power at all. The way its body has been sculpted, the rear wing and the extensive use of lightweight carbon fibre means the vehicle also produces the same 100kg of downforce as the Coupe despite it being a convertible. The dihedral doors had to be modified to accommodate the new roof which actually made the car more practical to get in and out of which is also a plus point.

The car can be specified in 16 different colour and ours was finished in Lantana Purple, which looks like it was designed for The Joker especially with the contrast brake callipers, but it comes in a number of other grandiloquent flavours such as Abyss Black, Papaya Spark, Cosmos which all sound like fancy cocktails you’d get in a boutique Soho cocktail bar.

Personally, the classic McLaren Orange looks incredible on pictures and also in the metal. Of course, the various shades of black and grey also look incredible but if you want the car to make a statement you can’t really look past the orange.

If there was an area to criticise it would potentially be the overall aesthetic from the front. At the rear, it is incredible with the rear wing, diffuser and gorgeous half moon lights but at the front it feels a little safe. It has a sort of mischievous grin but the designers also look to be exercising some restraint. Don’t get us wrong it’s a great looking car but it’s not as head-turning as some of its rivals and even as much as the 720s Spider.


Ultimately this is a fantastic piece of engineering but it is also so much fun. It is such a technological machine where every detail and decision has been fastidiously evaluated but it still gives you that rush and buzz when you get in and out of it. It’s not perfect but that really doesn’t matter as you’ll forget about all the small things as soon as you turn the engine on.

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