When McLaren send you an invite to try their latest sports car on a Formula 1 race track, you’d be mad to say no.
Freeing my diary, I headed out to Budapest and the Hungaroring to see what all the fuss was about.
LT stands for ‘Longtail’, this being only the third car to bear the name. That means it’s special. The original Longtail was a race-bred McLaren F1 GTR which won Le Mans back in 1995. The next LT’s came out a couple of years back in the form of the 675 coupe and spider, but this Longtail is the first time a baby McLaren from the sports series has worn the name.
Although this is a track-honed beast it’s still fully road legal, the numbers, however, seem anything but. From a standstill you can hit 62 MPH in 2.9 seconds, you’re average Ford Focus will manage the same in around 11.
It also weighs roughly the same as a Vauxhall Corsa, but it’s powered by a 3.8 litre V8 fitted with a twin turbo, which means you get 592 bhp under your right foot…that’s equivalent to five and a bit Kia Ceed’s.
After a few warm-up laps in a McLaren 570S, it was straight into a 600LT for a baptism of fire. Creeping out of the pit lane I keep a beady eye on my mirror making sure it’s safe to join the track. All clear. Foot to the floor. Wow. This thing is quick.
Now I’m not saying the 570S is slow, not at all, but this thing is another animal entirely.
The first corner approaches, a touch of the brakes sees me lurching forward in my seat to be caught by the belt. It’s a tight hairpin. Staying in second, I ease it through the apex. Wheels straight and it’s on the power again. Redline approaching and into second. Bang. It feels like I’ve just been hit from behind.
It’s nothing to worry about, that’s just how it changes gear…with all the fierceness of what feels like a cannon being fired directly behind you.
The jolt is caused by some fancy tech McLaren have borrowed from the 650S, dubbed ‘inertia push’ it uses the spinning motion of the flywheel to deliver that kick when changing up. It gets rather addictive. You feel as if you’re piloting a thoroughbred race car.
Deeper into the lap the Hungaroring gets tight and twisty. I’m held in place by the works of art that are the optional £4,990 super-lightweight carbon fibre racing seats. My whole lap is being recorded by the car’s onboard telemetry and three built-in cameras, so I’m feeling the pressure.
Thankfully I have a co-pilot with me in the form of a professional racing driver. He seemed rather chatty when we started out, now he’s gone quiet on me. That’s either a good thing, or he’s petrified. A quick look over and he seems calm. I’ll carry on.
Penultimate corner to the start-finish straight, hitting the kerb on entry, apex and exit I’m feeling like I’ve got this now. Practically a racing driver. The 600LT is egging me on, giving me the confidence to corner that bit faster, trust the tyres and their gecko-like grip a bit more, while the cacophony of those (road legal?!) top exit exhausts is interrupted by a whip crack with every gear change.
The straight is in sight, I nail the throttle. Speed building and I’m passed 70 in seconds. 100 flies past on the dials. My passenger finally speaks, only to say not to brake until he tells me too. 130. The front end starts feeling a little light, are we about to take off?! 140. We’re running out of straight, and the corner is fast approaching. I wait for what feels like an age, he still says nothing. Has he forgotten? I can’t do this.
Lifting off the throttle I slam the brakes on, flicking the left-hand paddle as I go. Scrubbing enough speed, we turn into the first corner once more. I’ve got another six laps ahead.
McLaren has transformed what was already a blistering machine in 570S form, to an even stiffer, louder, quicker precision instrument. Due to its size and wieldability this could well be McLaren’s finest road car to date.
Now, where did I leave that spare £185,500 that I had laying around?