The McLaren 600LT is literally setting the supercar genre on fire

Supercars are as much about drama and theatre as they are raw pace and sleek styling.

And the $455,000 McLaren 600LT gets off to a superb start with its stationary party trick – the ability to shoot flames out of its twin exhausts mounted on the top of the engine cover behind the occupants.

With such a short distance between the bangs going on in the twin-turbo V8 and where they exit the car, some heat and revs soon create spits of orange and blue flames belching from the exhausts.

It certainly shows you mean business when blasting away, something it does superbly on the way to touching 100km/h in 2.9 seconds.

Rear guard action

Those exhausts and the sizeable rear wing also make for an interesting view out the back.

Typically you're looking at the windscreen and roof of whatever is behind you, the limited vision further clouded by the heat haze from those exhausts.

All of which adds to the sense you're driving something out of the ordinary. As does the vibration pulsing through the car as the engine rumbles away.

While it's a V8, it doesn't have that classic V8 warble, instead adopting a throaty, hoarse roar that's in keeping with the bad boy image.

Forward thrust

Then you press the accelerator and things really liven courtesy of the outputs from the twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8. There's a wisp of laziness before a heady 620Nm of torque increases thrust.

Advertisement

Revs swiftly rise and the full 441kW (or 600 horsepower, hence the name) comes on tap as the engine ups its bark, the 600LT lunging forward feverishly.

In a car weighing just 1356kg it makes for a brutally brisk machine.

Second and third gears are particularly potent, a seemingly never-ending rush as the engine roars towards its sweet spot.

It's a wild ride, and one that ends very quickly on public roads through fear of losing your licence.

F1 thinking

There are hints of F1, too, perhaps no surprise given the McLaren name was honed on the track.

In the most aggressive of its three engine modes the digital dashboard adopts a race-focused display, complete with gearshift lights modelled off those in Formula 1. First some green lights illuminate before red ones and, finally, blue lights flash warning it is really time to select the next gear.

Then it's a touch of the shift paddle to implement one of the fastest upshifts you'll experience.

It's exciting stuff and in the right situation will continue all the way to a top speed of 328km/h.

The slim zone

Weight savings are a big focus for the 600LT, with McLaren claiming some 100kg has been shaved off the already lightweight frame. The less you're carrying around the faster the car can accelerate.

The removal of air-conditioning (12.6kg) and a sound system (3.3kg) helps there, although most owners tick those boxes to bring it straight back.

Plus, our car featured a 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system, further negating some of those weight savings.

But with a carbon fibre body and intense focus on saving weight it makes for a lithe and exciting machine.

Track focus

It's soon clear one challenge is getting all that power to the ground, even with sticky Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tyres (they're semi-slicks set up for dry race track running ahead of all else).

The 600LT wants to spin its tyres, activating the traction control in the process.

Indeed, it's a track focused machine; those who know their McLarens know LT is more than a couple of randomly chosen letters. It denotes Longtail, the treatment given to McLaren road cars to better prepare them for the race track.

The car sits 8mm lower than the regular Sports Series models, but its nose is perilously low. Fortunately there is a hydraulic lifter to raise the nose at anything up to 60km/h.

But there's no hiding the firm suspension that has the car jolting over bumps, to the point of being borderline unbearable in its stiffest Track setting.

Sharp handler

At street speeds you don't get the benefits of the aerodynamics, but the tyres certainly increase cornering grip.

McLaren also persists with hydraulic steering (most new cars use electric power steering) for a wonderfully fluid feel, one that helps position the car and adjust during bends.

The carbon ceramic brakes are also supremely powerful, barely challenged even during heavy applications on the road.

It's clear the Longtail has supreme abilities, ones best experienced on a track rather than road.

Growing the family

While McLaren has struggled on the F1 tracks in recent years, the brand has been kicking goals with its road cars.

The sold-out Senna is epic and the 720S more than a match for Ferrari.

Sales have responded, too. In 2018 McLaren sales globally increased 44 percent over 2017 (although they dropped 24 percent in Australia), about half that of Ferrari.

The 4806 deliveries meant McLaren sold more sports cars in 2018 than Lamborghini.