What is it like to drive?
We’ll start on road, where this is actually the most exciting and involving McLaren of the lot. Everything the company puts out – even the wilder Long Tail versions of its supercars – ride with such uncommon smoothness and refinement for a mid-engined, carbon-tubbed car, that a bit of extra toughness is oddly welcome.
Spec the optional roof scoop – you’d be a fool not to – and you’ll hear the chuffs of air being gulped in, while harder cornering elicits the clinking and clanking of the unused race harnesses sliding around (you have to wear the regular three-point seatbelt on road).
The SHEER DIN at cruising speeds from its reduced sound insulation mean the stereo is fighting a losing battle unless you turn it up to madly loud levels. The mechanical suspension is unrelenting even towards the softer end of its settings, too; it’s not excruciating, but it’s far from the levels of comfort we’ve come to expect of McLaren. Cat’s eyes and ruts in the road are screamed right at you where they’re normally communicated in hushed tones.
If this will mostly be a road car, you probably want the adaptive setup, especially for the nose lift it brings. But if you’re a little masochistic about using track toys on the road – revelling in the compromises you need to make to justify the rewards you’ll then reap on circuit – there’s a lot to like about the standard dampers.
And you do need to take the 620R on track to make sense of it. McLarens have never been short of grip, precision and ruthless acquisition of speed on road, so cutting yet more slack from the Sport Series has resulted in a car whose limits you’d be foolish to exploit on road.
Sure enough, on track the pieces fall into place. It displays all of the seriousness of a GT4 car, but with a lot more power and none of the stress of actually racing. There are no heroically late-brakers filling your mirrors, you’re just upping your game at your own pace.
Popping on the slicks and ramping up the downforce sets a talent level far beyond any stock supercar on a trackday, and one you may not immediately step up to if your wallet is bereft of a race licence. But conversely they provide so much confidence, you’re soon drawn helplessly in, wishing to spend hour after hour upping your game to extract the best from this car. Its additional power over a GT4 racer means there’s more to learn (and more to bugger up). It operates in a realm beyond the cars you might conceive as rivals on road – GT3 RS, 488 Pista – feeling lighter, sharper and so much more professional. Which, yeah, means it’s got less of a sense of humour, too. It’s a car in which you up your game, not marmalise your tyres.