Maintains the Longtail ethos of increased power, reduced weight, optimised aerodynamics, absolute driver engagement, track-focused dynamics and limited availability
2018 was a bittersweet year for McLaren. While their Formula 1 racing team sunk to new lows, their road car division achieved spectacular success. For the year, they sold 4806 cars worldwide, with sales up 43.9% over the previous year, making it another record breaking year for the British sports car maker.
And following the news of these successes, comes the latest addition to the McLaren product portfolio as the automaker works towards its targets set out in its Track25 business plan. This is the McLaren 600LT Spider, the drop-top version of the hugely capable 600LT Coupe released last year.
The 600LT Spider is actually the fifth car in McLaren’s history to carry the Longtail name, embodying the McLaren Longtail philosophy of increased power, reduced weight, optimised aerodynamics, track-focused dynamics and limited availability.
The LT bloodline dates back to 1997, when the McLaren F1 GTR ‘Longtail’ debuted. The car was actually a development prototype, and only nine examples were ever built. But, after being victorious in five of the 11 rounds of the 1997 FIA GT Championship, as well as finishing first and second in the GT1 class at Le Mans, almost 30 laps ahead of the opposition, the LT name was always going to be synonymous with greatness.
18 Years later at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show, McLaren brought back the LT name – this time adorning the 675LT Coupe, which sold out rapidly. In response to customer demand, a 675LT Spider followed, all 500 examples of which were sold within two weeks. The fourth model to bear the Longtail name, the 600LT Coupe, was revealed in July 2018 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and has since been hailed by critics as one of the finest cars in its class.
“The McLaren 600LT Spider adds a new dimension of excitement to the most extreme model in the Sports Series family, while losing none of the Longtail focus. Taking full advantage of the strength of the carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis has ensured that the new Spider has dynamic abilities and performance on par with the 600LT Coupé, for a weight premium of just 50kg and with no additional structural strengthening required. In addition to our weight advantage over competitors, we have also retained the top-exit exhausts that debuted on the Coupé – and I’m pleased to report that they sound and look even better with the roof or rear window of the Spider lowered!”, said Mike Flewitt, CEO, McLaren Automotive.
Thanks to its lightweight but incredibly strong carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis, the convertible 600LT retains the structural rigidity of the Coupe with none of the strengthening that is usually required with conventional steel or aluminium structures. The result is a weight penalty of only 50kg over the Coupe, which contributes to a dry weight of just 1,297kg for the Spider - around 80kg down on the Ferrari 488 Pista Spider and 100kg below the 570S Spider this 600LT is effectively spun from. A power-to-weight ratio of 340kw-per-tonne underpins an astonishing levels of performance and dynamic prowess.
The 600LT Spider benefits from the same twin-turbocharged, 3.8-litre V8 engine at the Coupe, but has had its electronics system retuned, the cooling system uprated and the shorter exhausts tuned to liberate more power. The engine produces the same 441kw and 620nm in the Spider as it does in the Coupe. The powertrain is paired with a Seamless Shift seven-speed dual clutch transmission that features Ignition Cut in Sport mode to facilitate faster changes whilst delivering a dramatic aural crack from the top-exit exhausts, plus Inertia Push in Track mode to optimize acceleration.
The 600LT Spider will reach 100kph from a standstill in 2.9 seconds, with 200kph achieved in just 8.4 seconds – a near-indistinguishable 0.2 seconds slower than the Coupé. The maximum speed is 324kph with the roof raised, or 315kph with it lowered. Speaking of speed, the retractable roof can be operated up to 40kph.
Incorporating technology proven in the 650S, 675LT and 570S Spiders, the hardtop roof is more secure and wear-resistant than a fabric alternative would be, as well as offering Coupe-like cabin refinement when in the raised position. Equally importantly, it allowed McLaren’s design team to maintain the focused design language and silhouette of the 600LT Coupé. When lowered, the roof stows elegantly with the assistance of soft-close technology beneath a tonneau cover located behind the seats; with the roof raised, this tonneau storage area provides an additional 52 litres of luggage space.
Performance is further enhanced by the lightweight carbon fibre bodywork that creates the Longtail silhouette and the same design of fixed rear wing as the Coupé which – despite the aerodynamic challenges posed by a convertible body – generates the same 100kg of downforce at 250kph. Ultra-precise, track-focused handling is supported by a forged aluminium double-wishbone suspension system with recalibrated dampers, firmer engine mounts and a lightweight braking system. The 600LT Spider is fitted with bespoke, track-focused Pirelli P- Zero Trofeo R tyres and the driving experience is further enhanced with quicker steering and sharpened responses from throttle and brake pedals.
Like the Coupe, availability of the 600LT Spider will be limited, with each car hand-assembled at the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey, England. The 600LT Spider is priced from £201,500 (ZAR 3.5 million) in the UK, and will be arriving in South Africa later this year, with pricing announced closer to the launch. That said, expect it to be slightly pricier than the 600LT Coupe which is priced at R5 250 000.