Sports cars get no more serious as trackday toys
But they do get cosier and more useful on the road
What is it?
It’s the raciest McLaren road car yet. This is the 620R, and we’re told to think of it as a slightly softened racecar as opposed to a pumped-up Sports Series car.
Using the 570S GT4 as its base, it’s actually much more powerful. Motorsport regulations keep GT4 car engines wound down to 500bhp (or less) but with the rulebooks duly binned, McLaren’s 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 now peaks at 620PS, or 612bhp. Which is 20bhp more than the 600LT, making this the most powerful of McLaren Automotive’s ‘entry level’ shape of car.
Actually pigeonholing it is tough, and it’s fair to describe the 620R as fantastically niche. Road-legal status means it’s not eligible to race in any series, but its overtly hardcore nature will likely stymie frequent road use, too. There’s no nose-lift as standard, so it might not even make it off some driveways. On first impression it almost feels surplus to the range – McLaren makes a GT4 race car, and it makes the 600LT ‘road racer’, this 620R living on a thin and blurry line between the two.
But dig a little deeper and its appeal shines through. You can choose between 32-way mechanically adjustable suspension (standard) or McLaren’s adaptive setup toggled via an interior dial (optional), depending on whether yours will get more use on circuit or road.
A set of fully slick tyres is optional and can be slotted on and off the car without any chassis changes. So, drive to a trackday on its standard P Zero Trofeo R road tyres, switch to slicks in the paddock, then drive back home hours later on still intact road rubber. Presuming you’ve sent a mate ahead in a van with your spare wheels, naturally.
You get the fixed rear wing of the GT4 car too – with different end plates and an integrated brake light to make it road legal – and it can adjust through a handful of downforce settings, offering up to 185kg. Inside, you can hook up cameras and telemetry to see your lines improve and your lap times tumble (or to capture the accident that ensures YouTube infamy).
“Wouldn’t I just get a racecar?” you might (reasonably) ask, especially given the 620R’s £250,000 price tag. Well, 2020 has dealt us some strange hands, and among the more first-world issues raised by a global pandemic was the halting of all circuit activity. So having some number plates on your track toy might now seem a lot less pointless than it first appears.
What's the verdict?
If you’ve no interest in trackdays, you ought to have no interest in the 620R. It fills a gap in the market we weren’t even sure existed – a road-legal racecar that’s ineligible to race – and which you almost need a powerpoint presentation to fully get your head around. But know that it’ll be wasted as merely a road car.
We suspect few people will drive one of these to a trackday, put the slicks on, then drive it home again, either. But having a dedicated track toy that you can actually use on the road every now and then? After the way 2020’s panned out, we can really see the appeal in that.
It’s more focused – i.e. less fun – than a 488 Pista, bit it’ll develop your talent (rather than flatter it) as a result. It’s a car whose professionalism draws you in and which we reckon will become quite addictive. The fact its extra toughness also makes it McLaren’s most histrionic road car yet is a mere bonus for masochists like us.