We know that the McLaren 600LT is an incredible car. Back in September we gave it a rare five-star rating, while our sister magazine evo named it Car of the Year. So along comes the convertible Spider version and it gets the same plaudits, surely? Well, let’s just talk through the differences before we give our verdict.
In terms of the 0-60mph time, the stat stays the same, at a swift 2.8 seconds, in spite of a 50kg weight gain due to the motorised roof. Top speed drops slightly to a still-scintillating 201mph, and all that comes at a price of £201,500 before options – up £16,000 on the fixed-roof 600LT.
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So is it worth the extra outlay? You bet. The three-piece carbon-fibre roof folds back under its tonneau in just 15 seconds, getting you closer to the glorious rumble of the twin top-exit exhausts. You can raise the glass rear window to make it a little less blustery inside, but even at silly speeds you won’t be blown around too much. And if you must travel with the roof up, that window can still be lowered to boost the aural experience.
But it’s the 600LT driving experience that really gets you smiling – on the road or the track. As with the previous four Longtail models, the Spider has more power, less weight and tweaked aero with a more track-focused feel. Plus, as the name suggests, an extra 47mm in length over the 570S Spider.
McLaren chose the short and twisty Arizona Motorsports Park just outside Phoenix in the US to showcase the 600LT Spider’s talents – and what talents they are. As with the hard-top car, the Spider is phenomenal on track, with excellent throttle response, bags of power, sharp turn-in and plenty of grip. All highlights of the 600LT.
Not that the standard 570S is short of talent, but the Longtail ups it a sizeable notch. The forged aluminium double-wishbone suspension and stiffer anti-roll bars make the nose feel more responsive. With the car in its track setting, you turn in, aiming for the apex, and the car darts towards it like a terrier down a rabbit hole.
Then it’s hard on the throttle and those exhausts resonate with a bassy roar as the power comes in at pace. The bespoke Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres bite into the dusty tarmac and fire you off down the next short straight.
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Even though Track Mode allows more slip, the downforce through corners from the clever aero means you’ve got to be careless to break traction. This is a car that demands 100 per cent attention – not due to any wayward tendencies, but because of the sheer speed with which the next corner arrives.
Yet the combination of lightweight brake calipers, carbon-ceramic discs and a Senna-inspired brake booster means the LT sheds speed like few other road cars. It’s an intoxicating experience that leaves you craving more, with the Spider showing no discernible differences over the hard-top 600LT in terms of lap times.
But it’s not just about fun on the track; because its prowess and comfort on the road are impressive. You might not be able to explore the extremes of its performance, but you can still enjoy its power and poise.
It may not be the most suitable McLaren to be used every day, but you could do. Access is good (especially with the roof off), the cabin is comfortable and there’s space in the front boot for some shopping.
You may be frustrated by the laggy and tiresome infotainment system – and build quality isn’t exactly Germanic – but that’s not what this car is about. It serves up entertainment in a way that others cannot.