Lovers of supercar know, it is difficult to reconcile extreme performance and optimum efficiency when talking about a convertible. Weight, rigidity, aerodynamics, are the inescapable laws of sportiness. And in this area, nothing will ever equal the rigor of a coupe! At least, almost never. Because at McLaren, we see things differently. The structural design of the models would be so perfected that the brand does not hesitate to discover its most advanced machines.
The McLaren 720S, a hypercar of 720 hp. The McLaren 600LT, an entry-level sports car in its most ultimate version. Today the Woking firm would seem able to meet all needs, without loss of performance. Hard to believe ! We went to discover these two nuggets in the US. Head to Arizona for a wild ride in the very heart of the Wild West.
Extract from the show of March 31, 2019
The McLaren 720S Spider
The American West never disappoints. Grandiose landscapes, flora and wild fauna. Cowboy saloons are nothing more than movie sets and the gold mines are mostly abandoned. But in this case we did not have to dig long to find our vein of this sublime precious metal.
The McLaren 720S is a special case in the world of super sports cars : 720 hp is the power of a hypercar. And yet this McLaren remains a supercar that it is possible to drive on a daily basis. A true a priori paradox and yet it is indeed the case. Under its air of radical sportswoman, it even stands out as one of the most comfortable on the market.
However, we are talking about a McLaren and performance must remain paramount. And in this case, when the competitors have to load between 100 to 150 kilos of structural reinforcements to compensate for the loss of rigidity due to the cutting of the roof, the 720S (1.332 kg) is only 49 kg heavier compared to the Coupé, a real performance (Ferrari F488: + 90kg / Lamborghini Huracan: +120 kg).
In fact, this 49 kg overweight is simply due to the retractable roof mechanism. Engineers did not need to strengthen the structure. The secret of McLarens is thatthey are all designed around a monocoque carbon airframe that is both ultra light and rigid. This is a feature common to the entire range.
First interest, this cell is so light that it allows all McLarens to contain their weight much more effectively than the references of the segment. And this carbon cell has a second interest which in this case benefits the Spider versions even more: the structure is so rigid that they can do without their roof, without additional reinforcement. In barely 11 seconds and up to 50 km / h, we find ourselves in the open air. And that, without harming either the efficiency or the lap times!
But the most annoying for the competitors, is that McLaren could have done even better if they had wanted this more radical 720S Spider. No, there it still benefits from its small windows integrated into the rear structural pillars, offering an almost 360-degree vision completely new. Ultimate refinement, this Spider even has the luxury of carrying an electro-chromatic glass roof which bathes the passenger compartment in light, and can be darkened on demand if the sun is too strong. Delicate attention, when you have a twin-turbo V8 just behind the seats, which shows no restraint.
This 720S may turn out to be a ” versatile hypercar “, it nevertheless retains its pure sport driving modes. This is the other strength of McLaren, the electronics are so efficient that they manage to transfer all the power to only the rear wheels. Delicately, as long as you stay in Comfort mode. Because Track mode engaged, it is also able to dance on the track. You can even manage the drift angle according to your piloting skills.
En practice, behind the wheel and with the top off, the sound of this famous V8 – 4.0-liter twin-turbo 720 hp becomes even more impressive. And it still works just as hard! The accelerations are still brutal and the lengthening is surprising for a turbo engine! We also always have this incredible front axle which seems anchored in the asphalt so much driving is precise in all circumstances and at all speeds.
The craziest one concerns the lap times, so to speak, identical to those of the Coupé : the 0 to 100 does not change (2.9 s) and the 0 to 200 km / h dispatched in 7.9 small seconds only requires a small tenth more. V-Max side: 341 km / h! For once, McLaren announces 325 km / h when the roof is open. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to try, but one thing is sure it must blow your mind!
Too bad for the V-Max! What interests us most now is to check the effectiveness. For that, we changed the mount, to get on board one of the most spectacular McLarens of the moment.
The McLaren 600LT Spider
Technological challenge or simple show of force, McLaren also cut the top off one of its supercars the most extreme. And contrary to what one might think, one of the most sensational models on the track is not a hypercar, but the smallest McLaren in the lineup.
In its most ultimate configuration, it is called 600LT, for Long Tail. The it is not a question of versatility or compromise, but of offering pure driving sensations. The Long Tail, it’s DNA from competition: sharp aero, chassis optimized for optimal efficiency, racing tires and bucket, twin-turbo V8 pushed to its limits (no less than 600 hp). And above all, maximum lightening.
The McLaren 600LT represents a little the acceptable limit for this supercar can be approved on the road. The limit between a production car and a racing car. This is exactly the recipe for designing the LT models.
Engineers keep telling us, the most difficult in an optimization of this kind is the reduction of the weight. They hunt down every gram! The 600LT therefore incorporates carbon everywhere! Front blade, spoiler, floor, side air intake, spoiler and diffuser of course. Everything that could be lightened has been. Rims including! Compared to the most basic version, the weight gain is 100 kg.
The exhaust system integrated directly into the rear engine cover is quite simply the shortest and most extreme ever integrated in any McLaren. McLaren thus saved a few centimeters to gain a few grams. And yet, the brand still dared to cut the roof of this 600LT.
Result, 1,297 kg dry is only 50 kg more than the Coupé! The maneuver to uncover the roof can be carried out in 9 seconds up to 40 km / h. And this roof is completed by an opening rear window to contain the eddies of air, or better to hear the mechanics sing.
As a bonus, when the roof is in place, it frees up a load space of 52 liters, in addition to the front trunk. This makes this Spider more practical than the Coupé. But that’s not really the goal of today’s trial.
Any pilot will tell you: ” a convertible has nothing to do on a circuit! “. It’s heavier and less rigid than a Coupé so what’s the point? In fact, the mere fact of envisioning a racing car – or almost – a convertible, was already totally irrational. Suggest we go on the track with it, it seems really crazy! And yet, this is exactly what McLaren proposed to us to do at Motorsport Park in Arizona.
In practice, the mechanics retain all their character! The motor responds without the slightest inertia, with a temperament rarely seen elsewhere. The 50 kg of overweight is totally imperceptible. And not only are the performances almost identical to the Coupé version (same top speed, same lap times: 0 to 100 in 2.9 s and 0 to 200 in 8.4 s or +0.2 s) but in addition, the efficiency and sensations are identical!
After a few laps the finding is final. It’s pretty amazing to find such stability and stiffness in a convertible. The front end is still as incisive. The grip is exceptional, and the connection to the track is unfiltered! We fully appreciate the natural balance of the chassis. A small difference on the other hand with the Coupé, the Spider is much more breathtaking!
Tariffs more contained than those of the competition.
Lighter than their competitors, for similar performance, these McLarens are also a little cheaper too: 282,500 euros for the McLaren 720S Spider. That is € 33,325 more than the Coupé. But that’s 40,000 euros less than the Ferrari 488 Pista Spider (321,611 €).
The production of the McLaren 600LT Spider will be limited to one year, but no number of units has been defined. Its French price has been set at € 252,000, or € 20,000 more than the Coupé. And 10,000 euros less than a Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder (262,623 €). The new Evo Spyder being less ” exclusive “.
|Weight||More refined competitors|
|Carbon structure||V8 sound|
|Exhaust sound||We are still looking …|