It probably seems a bit superfluous to describe the new 620R as a ‘track-ready’ McLaren. Aren’t they all? Even the ‘grand touring’ oriented McLaren GT would give a good account of itself on any track day. But even by McLaren standards the 620R is a bit special. 620 metric horsepower in a lightweight 1,282kg sports car with high downforce aero kit adds up to a whole lot of track day thrills.
Among the safety features of the 620R are an immensely strong single-piece carbon fibre Monocell chassis providing protection and rigidity; carbon-ceramic disc brakes with aluminium callipers for repeated fade-free braking; and front, side and knee impact airbags should the worst happen. Perhaps the most important safety feature of all is driver skill, and each of the 350 McLaren 620R models to be built come with free expert driving tuition at a Pure McLaren Track Day.
The McLaren team has taken the 570S GT4 racing car and turned it into a road-legal production model. It gets the same aerodynamic hardware, including a serious-looking rear wing that can be adjusted to varying degrees of downforce. Compared with the standard 570S on which it’s based, the suspension is lower, track is wider, and it comes with carbon-ceramic brakes, centre-lock wheels and a low-exit stainless-steel sports exhaust. The front bumper, splitter and bonnet have been redesigned with special dive planes that contribute up to 30kg of the 64kg downforce delivered by the frontal aero package. Meanwhile the adjustable carbon fibre rear wing is the same as the one fitted to the 570S GT4, with up to 185kg of downforce in its most aggressive setting.
With its focus on track driving, the interior of the 620R is fitted with carbon fibre racing seats and 6-point race harnesses, though there are also normal seat belts for road use. The 620R doesn’t have carpets or a glove box; air con, sat nav and audio system are all no-cost options on the basis that most track day fanatics don’t need or want the extra weight. Exterior colours are McLaren Orange, Silica White and Onyx Black, and you can also choose a livery based on that of the Ultimate Series McLaren Senna.
The 650S Spider boasts the same vigorous 3.8 litre V8 engine as its coupé counterpart.
In most convertibles, a small but noticeable amount of performance and dynamism is sacrificed for the looks and driving enjoyment peculiar to roadsters.
Not so with this vehicle, whose engineers have made heroic and successful efforts to give it the same athleticism as its sibling.
The Spider may give up a miniscule amount to the coupé in terms of its maximum speed (204mph, as opposed to the coupé's 207mph).
But has an identical 0-62mph acceleration time of 3.0 seconds, and reaches 100mph from a standing start in 5.8 seconds – 0.1 second less than the coupé.
The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox offers a sublimely smooth ride in all circumstances, and is controlled via racecar-derived paddles on the steering wheel.
The Adaptive Dynamic Panel, meanwhile, enables you to choose from three driving modes (Normal, Sport and Track), each applicable to certain circumstances.
Most road versions of race cars are slower than the vehicles they pay homage to, but the vagaries of the GT4 series regulations mean that the 620R is more powerful than the 570S GT4. With 620PS (610bhp) and 620Nm of torque driving the rear wheels via a seven-speed Seamless Shift gearbox, the 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 blasts the 620R from 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds. Top speed is just 200mph, but that’s only because the McLaren’s aerodynamics prioritise cornering downforce over top speed. Technical highlights include the two-way motorsport-spec coilover dampers, with 32 clicks of adjustment to tailor compression and rebound for specific track driving conditions.
Other features include lightweight suspension wishbones and uprights, stiffer springs and anti-roll bars and solid steel top mounts. The 620R runs on Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R semi-slick road tyres, but an outstanding feature of the 620R is that you can swap to the optional full-slick track tyres without any need for further adjustment.
You don’t get on-board Netflix and wall-to-wall touchscreens
in a track-focused McLaren; all its technology is devoted to cutting lap times
and the only widescreen you need is the one that shows you the next corner. That
said, a lightweight Bowers and Wilkins audio system is available as an option.
You also get a centre-mounted 7-inch touchscreen with the McLaren Track
Telemetry system, and if you specify the optional Roof Scoop upgrade you can
include the three-camera MTT system.
The 620R can lap McLaren’s test track even faster than the 600LT. Though
intended for the track, it can be used on the road and it’s surprisingly
civilised when pressed into that role. But the track is where it excels, and
the 350 customers for this limited-edition model will enjoy unleashing its
performance in the environment it was created for.