First drive review: 2020 McLaren 600LT Spider sounds serious, delivers on the track

by admin February 20, 2019 at 2:46 am

Arizona Motorsports Park sits beside Luke Air Force Base outside Phoenix, so visiting drivers are treated to a non-stop free display of air power courtesy of F-16s and F-35s.

The base is home to the F-35 demonstration team, whose preparations for the 2019 air show season provided overhead entertainment as the 2020 McLaren 600LT Spider I’d been summoned to drive beckoned. While the supercar wowed on the track, the F35’s flat-spin recovery and slow-speed, high angle of attack flight drills dazzled overhead.

The roaring jets provided a distinctly professional-grade soundtrack to accompany the music of the 600LT’s 592-horsepower, 457 pound-foot 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8. The F-35 Lightning II might not produce the lyrical snarl of a P-51 Mustang’s Merlin V-12 piston engine, but the noise is purposeful and menacing.

2020 McLaren 600LT Spider

2020 McLaren 600LT Spider

2020 McLaren 600LT Spider

2020 McLaren 600LT Spider

2020 McLaren 600LT Spider

2020 McLaren 600LT Spider

So it is with the McLaren. Twin-turbo V-8s simply don’t speak in the symphonies of V-12s, or even naturally aspirated V-10s and V-8s. This is critical for the 600LT Spider, because like the coupe, it has top-exiting exhausts that provide an aural shortcut for engine sound to the cabin.

The obvious difference is the Spider’s electrically powered three-piece folding hardtop, which can be lowered in just 15 seconds at speeds up to 25 mph. With the roof out of the way, engine sound is even more omnipresent than it is in the coupe..

With the top raised, the driver can lower the 600LT’s rear window glass, which also clears a path between those dual exhaust tips and the cabin. With the window closed, however, the Spider is indistinguishable from the coupe inside.