by Deiondre van der Merwe
If you could choose between finding your one true love on earth or the McLaren 600LT Spider, what color would you get it in? It's bold to assume that the 600LT is enough of a companion to erase any need for human connection, but the cockpit of the Surrey-born supercar makes it an arduous task to remember that anything else but the road beneath it even exists. The twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter churns out 592 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque without breaking a sweat, enabling it to be the absolute track demon that it is. Well, that and all the carbon fiber. But is the more powerful Ferrari 488 Pista Spider a better option? Or would you be better off with a Porsche 911 GT2 RS or GT3 RS?
Having only been released in 2019, the McLaren 600LT Spider is still relatively new in the world of supercars. It's the fifth car from McLaren to receive the Longtail moniker after the F1 GTR Longtail that made its debut in the nineties. Based on the wildly successful 570S, the 600LT puts a bigger focus on its track-tackling abilities. The supercar in question gets rid of over 200 pounds of weight in comparison to the 570S Spider and adds more power to the mix. The difference is 30 horses exactly, but who's counting? Redesigned bodywork effectively lengthens the 600LT by just under three inches in favor of the Longtail-inspired approach, effectively improving downforce while it's at it.
The 600LT Spider carries over for 2020, and by May of this year, all of the 600LT Spiders due for the US had already been fully ordered. The last 12 cars all came with the special MSO design theme. US-bound cars may be registered as 2021 models, although no changes are made from the 2019 iteration and production ends in 2020.
Unveiled in early 2019 together with the coupe, the 600LT Spider gets the same Longtail treatment as well as the carbon-fiber crash diet to reduce weight. The spider variant weighs only 110 pounds more than the coupe and retains its performance statistics, including a sprint to 62 mph in under three seconds.
The 600LT Spider comes in one form and is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. A full carbon fiber chassis maintains the rigidity of the convertible, and the supercar has 19-inch wheels in front and 20-inch wheels at the rear. Standard convenience features are limited to keyless entry, push-button start, with no cooling air-conditioning, and auto-dimming rearview mirror in the fight to reduce the weight. Basic infotainment allows for a seven-inch infotainment screen that enables Bluetooth streaming and audio can also be played using the auxiliary input. A four-speaker sound system is standard and safety features include a rearview camera and hill start assist.
While it may be lax on cushy convenience, the 600LT excels at everything it was meant for, and that’s being one of the ultimate track weapons on the market. Its lower (not outright obtainable) asking price makes it slightly more accessible to those who can’t afford a similarly focused rival that costs upwards of $300,000, and that’s one of the biggest reasons that it steals customers right out of the hands of its rivals. It’s an excellent supercar that allows its driver plenty of personal connection and beyond that, a damn thrilling experience behind the wheel.
Given their shared DNA, the 600LT Spider bears similar design characteristics to the 570S Spider. The iconic McLaren-arc headlights draw attention to an intimidating face that's set off by a carbon fiber front splitter. The use of the lightweight material continues, and the extended side air intakes and side sills are also made out of the glorious graphite. The 600LT gets 19-inch multispoke wheels in the front that increase to 20 inches at the back, and both sets are firmly hugged by a set of Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires. The most notable difference comes in at the rear, where the twin exhaust outlets have been relocated to just above the fixed carbon-fiber spoiler, and a jutting carbon fiber diffuser ties it all together. The key difference between the 600LT Spider and the regular old 600LT is that the former boasts the ability to drop its top on a sunny day in California.
While the addition of the Longtail badge was once used to signal a much longer body in comparison to the everyday model, the use of the moniker on the 600LT alludes more to its track-ready disposition than a notable increase in length. That being said, it's still three inches longer than the 570S on which it is based and has a total length of 181.3 inches. It has a wheelbase that measures 105.1 inches and has a width of 82.5 inches with the mirrors included. Standing at a 47.1-inch height, it's 0.2 inches higher than the 570S. It also boasts one of the lightest weights in its class and comes in at just 3,099 pounds, which is 215 pounds lighter than the 570S Spider and 103 lbs heavier than the 600LT coupe.
The mid-mounted engine responsible for the 600LT's demonic nature is a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 that produces 592 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque. In black and white, it falls behind the Ferrari 488 Pista Spider's 710 horses, but it also cuts just over $24,000 from its price tag in comparison. The V8 enjoys a committed relationship with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that McLaren calls the Seamless Shift Gearbox, and boy, it's seamless indeed. It also shifts 25 percent quicker and jumps at the opportunity to downshift in expert fashion. The combination of raw power and a masterful seven-speed results in a cracking 2.8-second run from 0-60 mph.
We have McLaren's MonoCell II to thank for the 600LT Spider's lightness and rigid handling. The full carbon fiber chassis ensures enough strength to avoid additional strengthening for the sake of structural rigidity for the convertible, and the Spider sacrifices hardly any dynamic handling or performance in comparison to its fixed-roof sibling. A smooth and eager throttle response is a given, even at higher speeds. The 600LT Spider simply eats corners for breakfast and when the roof is up, it's hard to believe that it's a convertible. It has a near-supernatural ability to make driver and car one, and the connection between human and machine is difficult to manage without leaving too much room for the former's error, but the 600LT matches its mania with capable stability.
Buying a 600LT Spider and worrying about the fuel bills that come with it is like buying a mansion and worrying about the cost of electricity. When you're constantly tempted to reach illegal speeds, it doesn't come as a surprise that the V8 will eagerly guzzle fuel. According to McLaren, it'll return figures of 15/22/18 mpg city/highway/combined, which isn't totally horrible if you can summon enough willpower to avoid putting the pedal to the metal every day. With the 19-gallon fuel tank at full capacity, the McLaren will allow for around 340 miles with mixed driving, but this figure is only theoretical, and we doubt that it'll allow for over 280 miles, at least with one of us behind the wheel.
The interior goodies may be relatively sparse because, well, weight reduction for the win, but the ultra-lightweight seats clad in heavenly Alcantara plant occupants as close to the road as possible. Not only does that lower the center of gravity, but it also allows for some extra space for a six-footer to find a comfortable position. Ample headroom is offered by the 600LT and if you're mutantly tall, drop the top and enjoy even more freedom. Forward visibility is fantastic, but unsurprisingly, you'll have to rely primarily on your side mirrors to get a picture of what's happening behind you.
If you're dreaming of taking your 600LT across the desert and in between the mountains on a mid-life crisis road trip that's bound to go on for days, you'd best make it a solo one. The McLaren is home to a diminutive frunk that offers 5.3 cubic feet of space, which is enough to fit a large suitcase snugly. If your wife refuses to let you go at it alone, both of you will have to stick to squishable duffel bags to make it work. In-cabin storage is far less accommodating, thanks to the absence of a glove compartment in the name of weight reduction. The center console allows for a water bottle, and two small nets will have to do.
The list of standard features on the 600LT Spider doesn't go on for very long, and the limited suite reveals how much McLaren sacrificed to bring us the ultra-light and track-focused supercar we love. Keyless entry and push-button start are included along with dual-zone climate control that doesn't include air-conditioning. An auto-dimming rearview mirror and automatic windscreen wipers round off the convenience. In terms of driver-assists, cruise control is standard, but aside from a rearview camera and hill assist, you're pretty much on your own. Air conditioning is optionally available and heated power-adjustable seating with memory joins the extra-cost list. The availability of six-point racing harnesses rounds off the optional extras.
Instead of the up-to-the-minute infotainment systems found in more premium McLarens like the 720S, the 600LT favors the older IRIS system. The seven-inch touchscreen's absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is only mitigated slightly by Bluetooth streaming and satellite radio. The single auxiliary input can also be used to get that Spotify playlist out through the standard four-speaker sound system, though you can choose to have no sound system at all. A premium 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins system will do it better, but it comes at a price. All things considered, you'd be better off ignoring the creature comforts and appreciate the 600LT for what it is.
Being an infant in the world of supercars, the 600LT Spider hasn't suffered a single recall as yet, but just in case, McLaren offers a three-year basic and drivetrain warranty and a 12-year one for corrosion. Roadside assistance is also valid for three years and no mileage limit applies to any of them.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has officially crash-tested or rated the 600LT Spider for safety as yet, which is a common occurrence for six-figure supercars. McLaren makes it clear that the 600LT isn't there to molly-coddle you with driver assists like blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert. What it will do is remain rigid and protective in the event of an accident thanks to its carbon fiber chassis and dual front and front side airbags protect occupants even further. A rearview camera and hill assist are standard, and a rearview camera as well as front and rear park sensors are standard.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
We could fangirl over the 600LT Spider all day if given the chance, but we know you want the quick version. This McLaren, in particular, is a marvel of engineering, designed to attack twisty tracks with unfaltering aggression. The absence of some modern conveniences comes together with hardcore technology to make a car that honors track cars of yore and represents the image of a modern supercar perfectly. The crude power produced by the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 is refined by modern technology as it is pushed out to the rear wheels, and the result is a precise track weapon that is worthy of the challenge against the likes of the Ferrari 488 Pista Spider. Aside from being a brutal powerhouse, the 600LT offers its pilot the divine connection between man and car that enthusiasts crave, and should be appreciated for that above all else.
With a starting price of $256,500, the McLaren 600LT Spider is significantly more accessible than the Ferrari 488 Spider. It's also $16,500 more expensive than its fixed-roof sibling, so only die-hard convertible fans will turn a keen eye onto the Spider version. Nevertheless, the production cycle has a short lifespan, limiting the availability of the 600LT to smaller numbers. There's a very large possibility that you could clear the $300,000 mark within 15 minutes spent tweaking the configuration by adding extra exterior bits and carbon fiber switches.
With just one model available, it's up to you and the optional add-ons list as to how your 600LT Spider turns out in its final form. Firstly, we'd opt for the Curacao Blue exterior paint and stick with the standard wheels in a diamond-cut finish. Just one carbon-fiber upgrade will do, and that's Upgrade 1 that adds the mirror casings and extended side intakes. If you can do without the extra comfort, opt for the super-lightweight carbon-fiber sport seats. Air conditioning is also worth adding. For the last touch, add the carbon fiber interior trim.
Aside from a rather hefty increase in price for the 720S Spider, the two McLarens host different engines. The latter gets a more powerful 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 710 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. The one is as track-focused as the other in character, but the 720S is more adept at chewing a corner and spitting it out. The interior of the more expensive McLaren has more to offer in terms of infotainment thanks to a large center screen that serves as the hub of technology. Still, none of them allow for niceties like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The inside of the 720S isn't as bare-bones but shares similar features with the 600LT. At just under $60,000 more affordable than the 720S, the 600LT is slightly less powerful but paints an attractive picture.
The McLaren 570S has enjoyed plenty of success, and it comes as no surprise that McLaren chose it as the foundation for the 600LT. It's an upgraded version of the 570S, and the 600LT improves its aerodynamics and solidifies its higher spot with a more powerful engine. It's faster and more agile, and styling cues differentiate it from the rest with extra carbon fiber bits chucked on liberally. It gets lighter wheels and gains a fixed rear wing, along with rerouted exhaust openings that are located above the rear spoiler. The combination of slightly higher power outputs and a weight that is over 200 pounds lighter than the 570S means that the 600LT is better equipped for the track. Still, the 570S offers a more convenient interior that boasts features absent from the 600LT. In every other aspect, the 600LT improves on the 570S and delivers a track-ready car that doesn't sacrifice legality.
The most popular competitors of 2020 McLaren 600LT Spider: