Just west of the Sunset Strip’s swanky sushi bars, Italian boutiques and beer-stained nightclubs the Boulevard transforms into an automotive candyland — one rife with sharp corners, hip-swaying S-turns and dizzying dips.
Lined with video game palm trees, it’s the kind of place that begs for misbehavior even if you’re driving a rented Corolla. But behind the wheel of a McLaren — especially when it’s the latest offspring in their legendary Longtail family — you might as well be licking your lips with a forked tongue.
You’ll be gunning the British performance marque’s spectacular twin-turbo V-8 to make it howl, and burping lightning quick downshifts just to hear the 600LT bark and protest angrily at slowing down.
The most delightfully obnoxious aspect of this latest Longtail, the 592-hp powerplant, is not the most revelatory.
That would be the 600LT’s agility and road feel: the steering is so communicative if feels like you’re tracing your fingertips on top of Sunset’s pocked concrete. In Track Mode it’s as if the Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires are so sensitive they could read braille.
There’s so much chatter from the steering wheel, in fact, you’ll swear there’s no secret Sunset can hide from the 600LT. Which translates into an almost prescient agility: twitch the wheel and the Mac is already there, slicing the road like a scalpel incision.
It’s dangerous in a way; at times my passenger, pale and white-knuckled, was too stressed to even peep a word of dissent, yet I was convinced the 600LT wasn’t even flirting with its limits. Its grip is so sure-footed you have to be on a closed circuit to even begin testing the mid-engined supercar’s limits.
Which makes sense, really. In the world of McLaren, the normally disparate worlds of "street car" and "race car" are never far apart.
Ever since their Formula One-inspired F1, often called the greatest road car ever made, the difference between what McLaren sells at showrooms and what they lock up in a paddock has never been all that considerable. But that distinction is even more blurred when it comes to their Longtail family.
Ever since the first of its name back in 1997, the “Longtail" designation bears great import in the history of McLaren. That F1 GTR Longtail was born as a response to the shady shenanigans other constructors were using to blur the line between “production cars” and homologated racecars in GT series.
Focused on optimizing aerodynamics, shedding weight and increasing downforce, the F1 GTR Longtail went on to claim the top two podium spots at that year's 24 Hours of Le Mans (beating the closest competitor by nearly 30 laps), and five of 11 FIA GT Championship races.
The 600LT is the fourth McLaren to bear the Longtail moniker, and like its great grandfather it too focuses on aerodynamics, weight and downforce.
Dual top-exit exhaust ports — the most stirring visual difference between the 600LT and the 570S it is based on — check all three goals.
McLaren engineers will tell you it’s to fit a new diffuser that shaves almost 30 pounds from the 570S, and along with a new rear wing helps add another 220 pounds of downforce.
But we know it’s really there for the drama.