We knew the 600LT Spider was going to do well here – but getting well clear of the objective, measurable performance level of a 570S is what you’d expect of this car. And even though we were comparing a 600LT Spider carrying a slight weight penalty with a 570S Coupé with no such encumbrance, that’s precisely what the LT did.
Launching under McLaren’s electronic governance, with that strangely smooth and unexpectedly non-violent, wheelspin-free, immaculately managed fervour these cars all show in those circumstances, it did just enough to dip under the 3.0sec barrier from rest to 60mph. It only narrowly missed the 6.0sec threshold to 100mph, at which point it’s three-tenths ahead of a 570S and still pulling clear. The car has first-order, no-prisoners-taken acceleration on tap, then. Enough to narrowly beat a Ferrari 488 GTB off the line, and then to only very gradually surrender the initiative to the Italian over the next few hundred yards on the way to the standing quarter-mile marker and beyond.
Porsche’s 911 GT2 RS was the other main performance benchmark, we’re told – and McLaren can consider that another box ticked. The German – a hundred horsepower up on the Longtail, remember – would need to run all the way to 120mph before starting to get its nose out in front, according to our figures.
That performance level is all the more remarkable when you consider that this car uses McLaren’s older 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 rather than the significantly more torque-rich 4.0-litre from the 720S. On close inspection, the engine doesn’t quite impress like the bigger one in more transient, subjective terms. It’s noticeably softer-feeling in its responses to throttle inputs at low revs than some turbocharged equivalents, although much crisper as it revs to 4000rpm and beyond.
Meanwhile – to some testers, at least – it still sounded less like a supercar engine, at times, than an Embraer turboprop passenger plane running its engines up pre-takeoff; or, at other times, like some gigantic leaf blower with anger-management issues. Sitting with your head out in the open, so close to the exhausts, remains an intriguing pleasure, it must be said, but the simple truth is that rivals have engines that are more exciting and operatic to listen to while you’re doing it.