Crowned evo Car of the year 2018, the 592bhp McLaren 600LT is an outstanding supercar. Though the 570S is undoubtedly impressive, its overall focus is compromised by its inherent need to work on the road. This has been stripped back for the 600LT, granting the driver access to what feels like the Sports Series’ raw talent underneath.
The 600LT is sublime on track. Even when the ABS is triggered over a kerb, the car’s stability is exemplary and adjustability on the throttle mid-corner is like no other. All of this combines to create a car that’s somehow unthreatening, asking much less mentally and physically than a car such as the Senna, yet is nearly as composed and exciting. Its lap times might be slower, but there’s absolutely a case for saying it’s more enjoyable.
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Featuring a more conventional set-up than hydraulically-linked Super- and Ultimate-Series McLarens, the 600LT rides with greater firmness and a nuggety seriousness that places it closer to a Porsche 991.2 GT2 RS than the Ferrari 488 Pista. The payoff for this firmness? An instant sense of connection - from the first full rotation of the wheels, the 600LT communicates its intent. Turn-in is immediate, the nose reacting the moment you turn the wheel. The incredible, confidence-inspiring grip also allows you to load up both axles quickly, setting the car up in a beautifully balanced four-square cornering attitude.
A downside of the 600LT is that it’s almost too fast for the road, something the model shares with others from the marque - to get near its limits you need to be pushing very hard, and at some serious speeds. At more sensible speeds, there's perhaps not the adjustability you get on track, but the feel, poise and agility of the 600LT more than make up for its lack of humour. The 600LT is a seriously impressive supercar, and one that is quickly beginning to define a new benchmark for its more storied rivals.
It’s hard to comprehend just how far McLaren has come since the 12C, and in such a short space of time. The 720S is now the new McLaren Super Series flagship having taken over the reigns from the 675LT. The car features an all-new body design made from superformed aluminium surrounding the carbon tub chassis. The bi-turbo V8 has also been enlarged to 4.0 litres and now produces a ludicrous 710bhp.
McLaren’s goal was not just to make an incredibly fast and powerful car though. Rather than targeting a track-biased result, the 720S had to be a supercar you could use everyday. One of the stand out features of the 720S is the comfort and ride quality that it manages to achieve despite being razor sharp when needed. The ride and pitch control is near peerless and makes it a rival for any of the current crop of ‘everyday’ supercars – while at the same time being much more special.
Despite being racing car sharp, the 720S is not quite as exciting to drive as you feel it could be. A large part of this is down to the engine. It’s by no means dull; in fact, it often feels as though your right foot is connected to a hyperspace button, such is the speed at which it propels you forwards. But none of this detracts from the fact that it is not overly engaging, especially aurally – the engine note lacks the character of rivals like the Ferrari 488 GTB.
Regardless, the 720S is a phenomenally capable car and enables one to experience near-McLaren P1 performance for a fraction of the price.
Ferrari 812 Superfast
When the Ferrari F12 arrived, it moved the hyper fast luxury GT market on in a manner few could comprehend. In replacing the F12, Ferrari had a massive job on its hands. But it’s clearly succeeded, and the 812 Superfast is nothing short of spectacular.
With a naturally aspirated V12 that is unhinged and without restraint, the character of the car is hard to match. The engine note is exquisite but angry and provides a sense of theatre that every supercar should possess. Straight-line performance is nothing short of otherworldly, and throttle response from the naturally aspirated V12 is beautifully fast. But despite this, the 812 is nowhere near as scary as its ‘Superfast’ moniker would suggest.
A large part of this is down to the immense traction that the 812 generates. With a new four-wheel-steering system aiding handling, the traction is initially hard to understand as the amount it is able to generate leaves you with a sense of disbelief.
The steering too, is quick, and after a few minutes guiding this big car from bend to bend becomes almost intuitive. However, due to this it can also come to feel disconnected – quite unnerving, and takes some getting used to. In our eyes the 812 is not quite as good-looking as its predecessor, either.
Despite the marginally negative aspects, we really are splitting hairs and the car is miraculous. We had no idea how the 812 Superfast could be on to another level to the F12, or if in fact there was another level at all, but Ferrari has managed it and created an all time great supercar.
Lamborghini Huracan Performante
The original Huracan felt slightly limp compared to its big brother, the Gallardo. The engine and the noise it voiced were awe inspiring, but the driving experience itself left a lot to be desired. However, the new Performante has rectified the failings of the original and has finally become the car we always hoped and new the Huracan could be.
With a Nurburgring lap time of 6.52.01, it eclipsed the Porsche 918 Spyder by five seconds and that is not a figure to be taken lightly. Despite clearly looking like a road going version of Lamborghini’s Blancpain Super Trofeo racing car, the Performante really is almost as hospitable as the standard Huracan. It could honestly be used every day - provided that the fixed-back bucket seats are left firmly on the showroom floor. They are terrible and horrifically uncomfortable.
The car is essentially a harder hitting, more extreme version of the standard car. Despite producing 29bhp more than standard making 631bhp and being 40kg lighter, what changes the car completely is the Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA). The active aero system that the Performante has is unlike anything seen before and is arguably what enabled it achieve the lap time that it did.
Driving on the road, it’s hard to experience the full effects of the ALA but you are more than aware that it is there aiding you through every input. Despite being so heavily track focussed, Lamborghini must be praised for how forgiving they have enabled the car to be on the road – it’s not just some unusable track day monster.
Unsurprisingly it’s ballistically fast with a soundtrack to match. The chorus from the exhaust is pure GT3 racing car and the stability and traction generated by the rear biased four wheel drive system gives you the confidence to go out and enjoy the car for what it really is.
Designed and produced under interesting circumstances, the Ford GT was a long time in the pipeline. With it being based on the highly successful GTE Le Mans racing car, it’s hardly surprising that the GT is utterly sublime on track.
The carbon tub houses a 638bhp 3.5 litre twin turbo V6. This is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox and delivers power to the rear wheels. With the push rod suspension set in race mode, the car drops 50mm and hunkers down on the road. It’s here that the aerodynamics of the car can be fully exploited and appreciated. The car really does posses racing car levels of grip and the only restricting factor is the lack of slick tyres.
The moment one gets in the car and pulls away, the racing car DNA comes out in spades. Sadly at lower revs where the car will probably be driven most, the engine note is on the grainy and angry side. This begins to dissipate as the revs rise and the engine begins to fill with character. As a track car in full track mode, there are few supercars that can match it, but this is to be suspected considering that the car’s platform is a Le Mans winning racing car.
Sadly the superiority that the car enforces on the track is rather lost on the road. The car is so uncompromised that on the road you would be hard faced to believe that you weren’t actually in a racing car. It’s too firm, too noisy, and too unrefined. Will this be an issue? Of course not – the GT’s initial production run sold out almost instantly.
The main issue with the Ford GT though is the price. At over £400,000 it is more than twice a lot of its rivals, and while many of its contemporaries may not be quite as complete on the circuit, they manage to also be refined and work as everyday road cars. Make no mistake, the GT is a monumental and epic car to drive on track but it doesn’t quite hit the mark on the road.