66 Magazine Issue 4 Summer 2018 - Page 57

in the 570S. They even removed the interior door pockets. That marriage of horsepower and weight loss equates to a bristling 0-100km/h in 2.9 seconds and, perhaps more impressively, 0-200km/h in 8.2 seconds. Straight line acceleration is one thing, but at an undulating, flowing F1 circuit somewhere in Hungary, naturally understanding exactly how track focussed the 600LT is, seems more appropriate. Climbing inside, the cabin is certainly akin to a race car. As an option you can specify the car with the same wafer-thin carbon race seats that the brand’s highly limited Senna features, which are magnificent. Once in, its typical McLaren. A contemporary, technical vibe but, with no infotainment it’s refreshingly sparse. You get the lay of the land within seconds. There’s a dial for the three drive settings to sharpen up the engine and seven-speed transmission’s responses, a second dial for the adaptive suspension and stability control settings, a robust Alcantara-clad wheel with chunky shifter paddles… and not much else. All bodes well for a genuine driver’s car. Quickly you realise car is impeccably well sorted, as both a road car and a track weapon. With each passing corner you can feel the Pirelli P-Zeros (developed specifically for the 600LT), adhere to the tarmac with growing tenacity. This is a hard-to-define sensation on many performance road cars, but it’s pleasantly pronounced here. The exhaust – only inches from your head – erupts with sharp cracks and hisses of fuel and venting boost with every up-shift. Third, fourth, fifth happen fast as the car hits 250km/h down the main straight, but there’s reassuring stability as the clever aerodynamics disguise all that velocity by cutting through the air like a hot knife through butter. In fact, aside from the aural cacophony, there’s a remarkable civility about the 600LT that’s unlike its competitors. For me, Italian supercars require precision and subtlety to get exit speed from the apex; over-cook it and the loading and unloading of weight is blunt and more-often catches you off-guard. That’s not to say the McLaren lacks excitement, but the car is so brilliantly balanced and composed mid-corner, it fills you with confidence to push much harder than feels natural. This affords the driver the ability to demonstrate heroic levels of turn-in and mid-corner commitment. You have to be quite deliberate to initiate oversteer, but when you do, that smooth torque delivery and ideal weight distribution rewards easily-controlled tyre-smoking drifts. Even getting it wrong is a riot. Turn Two at the Hungaroring is a tight, off-camber left with high entry speed. Reassuringly, the 600LT’s brakes deliver the same mega braking force as the P1 Hypercar, again thanks to that obsessive focus on weight. With aggressive trail-braking deep into the corner, you feel every ounce of mass transfer like a coiled spring; release brake pressure too abruptly and the rear steps sideways, but it’s all so utterly predictable, akin to lift off oversteer in a front-drive hot hatch. A quick recalibration of lock and throttle input and the car regains composure again perfectly. On other tracks drives, I’d panic and back off at that point. In the 600LT it’s all positive reinforcement, feedback on what not to do, so you can go faster next lap. While others are adapting their sportiest attributes to suit boxier family-friendly body styles, McLaren is bucking the trend with its product strategy and with the 600LT. The Woking, they’re dialling up those sporty aspects to eleven; not for the family, but for the most hard-core driving enthusiasts. Niche market? Sure. But they won’t get any arguments from me.