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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Joining the McLaren Automotive lineup this year is the 600LT Spider, the convertible variant of the track-focused 600LT. The limited-run convertible, which starts at $259,000, is a member of the exotic brand's Sports Series. Power is supplied from a 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V-8 engine with 592 hp and 457 pound-feet of torque. Here's a roundup of snippets of 600LT Spider reviews from the automotive media.

"On the relatively smooth tarmac between Scottsdale and Arizona Motorsports Park, the 600LT Spider delivered beautiful driving dynamics, with a firm, short-travel brake pedal and only the very occasional need to go anywhere near full throttle; even half-pedal, short-shifting acceleration in this car produces unbelievable waves of power that require very real levels of restraint to stay out of trouble. And I'm not talking letter-of-the law speed limit driving, here, or avoiding tickets. That ship sailed long ago. I'm talking about staying out of jail. Pick a road, pretty much any road: the 600LT is capable of, roughly, triple the speed limit anywhere I can imagine. 100 or 120 mph in a 35 zone is well within the realm of physics for this thing."

"Top-down motoring with all windows up demonstrated clever aerodynamics that left the cabin calm and conversation friendly. Left in Sport chassis and Sport powertrain modes, the 600LT Spider was a happy little cruise missile on the highway with the top raised. At part throttle, the hum of the engine was not intrusive, and only the coarsest surfaces intruded into the cabin. The cleverness of the transmission in drive was impressive, but who leaves a McLaren in drive, right? While the ride is noticeably firmer than that of a 570S, it's never jarring."

"I'm no racetrack newbie, yet it's still unsettling to blow past the course's last brake marker before stomping on the 600LT's diamond-hard stop pedal. The ceramic discs bite hard and kill speed with immediacy. Flicking the Alcantara-wrapped wheel in either direction tucks the front end in, the Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires offering tremendous cornering grip. The suspension's adaptive dampers keep matters nearly flat in Track mode, but doesn't kill me as I clip a curbed apex.

The 600LT is phenomenal, and easy to drive fast. But that doesn't mean there isn't some drama baked into the experience. Dialing the McLaren's stability control to its Dynamic setting loosens the leash, letting the rear end step out in a controlled slide worthy of silly grins and style points.

The whole package is remarkably neutral, enabling drivers to walk the fine line between grip and slip while bombing around the track. Communicative, weighty steering lets you feel when the front tires are reaching their limits, and there's tons of feedback delivered through the carbon-fiber chassis tub, right up to the seat of your pants."

"While the transmission is a joy to work, the tires provide the sort of grip that makes deploying the engine's power out of a turn less a question of bravery and more one of patience. The 285/35/20 rear tires are Pirelli P Zero Trofeo Rs and they feature a compound unique to the 600LT. The grip levels border on glue-like.

I tried — really tried — to get the tires to let loose. Launch control doesn't cause a loss of composure (in fact, it may have enhanced it), and even switching off the stability control and mashing the throttle can't defeat the tires in such a way that the McLaren is hard to control. There's just constant, unshakeable confidence.

And of course, organ-rearranging acceleration. But even as the G-forces crush me into the driver's seat and force my kidneys and lungs to swap locations, my ears are happy. And if I'd been driving at night instead of on a bright, cloudless day, my eyes would have been thrilled, too, thanks to the 600LT's top-mounted exhaust. Every car should have top-mounted exhausts."

-- Brandon Turkus, Motor1

"The car is fast. Do I even need to tell you this? You hit the throttle, let out your breath and you're already in the triple digits. It's effortless and far too easy.

But what's especially great is the handling. The 600LT Spider uses a hydraulically assisted steering system, which makes turning the wheel heavier at low speeds and provides better feedback when you're going fast. In a world that's overrun by numb and feathery electronic-assisted systems, the weight is welcome. It guides the Spider's nose to laser-focused turn in, feeding information from the front wheels beautifully up into your hands."

-- Kristen Lee, Jalopnik

"Like with the 600LT Coupe, the Spider's manners on everyday asphalt are surprising. I'm not going to tell you it isn't a firm ride, and I wouldn't argue with some more lumbar support in the fixed-back sports seats, but it's far from the jarring ride you might expect given the Longtail ethos. No, it wouldn't be my first choice of McLaren to commute in every day, but the fact that I'm even considering it in those terms is fairly astonishing in itself."

"It's true, when hauling ass on a racetrack or up a canyon road, I don't have much time to think about musical exhaust notes and whether this one pleases me. I'm keeping a peripheral eye on the shift lights and the rest of my energy focused forward. But, after realizing the inanely low speed limits here (come on, guys, 65 mph?), I drop back and cruise. It's then that the drone, made louder by the lowering of the rear window, starts to annoy me.

There aren't any big potholes here in the Southwest, but the roads aren't always smooth. The Spider's near perfect power steering and suspension setup transmit every dip, chunk and edge on the black top and communicate the exact millisecond the front tires are about to give way. I would have bet my life this was a standard hydraulic steering setup and not a hybrid. It feels rock solid on center and meaty around the 10 minutes of gradual sweepers I find somewhere between Scottsdale and Litchfield Park. I can't remember the exact steering feel of the Ferrari 488 Spider, one of my current top three, but it couldn't have been much better than this."