'Longtail' is more than just a word at the McLaren supercar company. It’s a homage to the McLaren that won the classic Le Mans 24-hour race in 1995 and also provides the punctuation for its track-focussed road rockets.
McLaren makes cars with three speeds – fast, very fast, and silly fast – and the latest 600 Longtail fits into the 'very’ group with the promise of near-racecar performance in a class where it swims with the sharks from Ferrari and Lamborghini.
It is unveiled in Sydney as McLaren opens the order book with a pricetag of $455,000 and news that the car is already sold-out well into 2019.
The 600LT sits in the middle of the McLaren line-up in Australia – a considerable way below the first McLaren Senna which has just hit the road in Melbourne with a sticker some way beyond $1.4 million – and lands here with impressive numbers.
It sprints to 0-100km/h in in just 2.9 seconds and on to 200 in 8.2 seconds and packs 441 kilowatts and 620 Newton-metres from a turbocharged 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine.
“This car is absolutely where McLaren customers want to see their cars. It’s people who want the performance element, want dramatic styling, and want to use it on the road,” the Asia-Pacific managing director of McLaren Automotive, George Biggs, tells Australian Business Traveller.
“It’s the first time we’ve done a Longtail in the Sports Series. We have hopefully created the ultimate engagement with this car. It is a track animal, barely road legal,” Biggs says with a smile.
The 600LT sits between the 570S and 720S in the range, and puts more emphasis on weekend play at a racetrack or in road rallies, although the styling is still not as extreme as its Italian rivals.
Putting the car into context requires a quick refresher drive in the 570, which copes easily with weekday traffic in Sydney and the opportunity for an occasional straight-line sprint and quick corner.
Drama comes as standard with any McLaren and the bold blue 570 turns lots of heads, yet it’s surprisingly docile and enjoyable. Not grumpy or thumpy, with ride comfort that’s more like a limousine and a driving position that’s one of the best in the world.
Tickle the throttle and the V8 engine launches the car, but while never as intimidating as a Ferrari or as look-at-me as a Lamborghini, the 570Gt remains as ruthlessly efficient as an MI6 agent.
Commuter traffic is easy in the 570, apart from people who run close as they turn to gawk, which means it is one of the most user-friendly supercars.