Editor’s Note: I would like to thank SPR for offering to write a great in-depth review on his new McLaren 620R. We rarely post guest articles but I thought this one was well worth sharing.
I finally had a chance to drive my 620R in two drives about an hour apiece. To me, the 620R is totally worthwhile for the price and really is not just the sum of its parts – which are extensive and when added up, very expensive and exclusive. Just so you get my background as there will be a lot of 600lt and 570s track pack comparison, I own the latter and was looking to upgrade to a roof scoop 600lt. I’ve driven all McLaren’s including 720, etc. so I can compare. In the end, I’m so glad I went 620R. Here’s my two cents.
The handling is beyond superior to a 600lt. The ride is more nuanced than the 600lt with better compression and rebound settings. I’d liken it to what the 600lt is as an evolution of technology over the 675lt in terms of better and more superior setup. The car doesn’t get upset on bumps mid corner as the 600lt does, which while maybe fun is slower and induces unwanted weight transfer. The transitions from braking to cornering are better longitudinally and on axis yet still, as is rear damping where the 600lt likes to get upset, push and hop. The 600lt is just stiff all the time with seemingly equal settings of compression and rebound. The 620R is totally different – and in each mode superior. Interestingly the 620R’s stiffer drivetrain mounts initially trick you from feeling some of the apparent suspension harshness both cars are reviewed as having. The front end grip is sublime. If you drive a 600lt hard with the esc off or in dynamic mode and think the car is well balanced; you are mistaken. The 620R truly confirms what a neutral car it is. At first you lean on the front end more and more and more because you can’t believe the massive front end grip from the wider track and GT4 setup, only to anticipate rear oversteer. It simply doesn’t. The car is that balanced, and it loads with perfect suspension characteristics making driving aggressively a dream and immeasurably more predictable than a 600lt.
These differences come from the suspension components, which are in fact totally different and provide such acumen. Whereas the 600lt is stiff at all times in all modes and feels like my track pack dialed up one setting, the 620R’s suspension is far more refined and technological advanced. If you drive it over smooth roads, it is far more compliant and flatter, being evident as having far more advanced damping over the normal bumps and midcorner. That comes from the coilovers which are entirely bespoke to the 620R running helper springs. As a result, the suspension is more compliant, smoothing out small bumps like a GT2RS and is not nervous as a 600lt is all the time, no matter the setting. Some owners who own both, complain the 620R is not as “racy” as a 600lt; this is not so. Anyone who says that obviously doesn’t drive hard or through corners with proper form, how the car was developed as intended. It is far stiffer than my track pack and at times stiffer, but totally different than the 600lt. It runs all gt4 components, hubs and sway bars. The gt4 sway bars and parts definitely change the handling over a 600lt with apparent less roll. Some say – it runs rose joints everywhere instead of rubber bushings on all of the suspension which attributes to the accuracy in corners. I haven’t had it on a rack yet to look, but from pretending to be the Stig in the canyons, I’d agree by how it loads and handles without undue deflection noticeable in the 600lt and track pack alike. The coilovers, even though not the manual motorsport ones are far superior to the 600lt in compression and dampening in every setting. It is also readily apparent the 620R runs superior stability and traction management likely learned from the long and successful GT4 campaign. When loading the car in a corner, a 600lt will hop all around like a bunny from bumps at the limit. The 620R is unfazed and soaks everything up without weight transfer and is far flatter. Interestingly, my dealer told me McLaren did not or will not provide the manual coilovers in the US. (I tried to obtain a car with them because I’m apparently a sadist per some reviewers of them.) This follows, as in US at least, McLaren will not let you or a dealer spec a 620R – dealers are provided allocations and given the option to only say yes or no to preconfigured cars – they cannot even choose the color.
The steering is likewise amazing. It is not as stiff as a 600lt which provides programmed in enthusiasm but has better resolution and clearly different programming than my track pack. The additional feel is no doubt a result of the GT4 components and drivetrain mounts. You see McLaren fitted the 620R with what seems like solid drivetrain mounts made from granite. Gone is the normal compliancy taking up NHV of the 600lt, even though McLaren states the 600lt runs stiffer units than the track pack. This is immediately apparent when you start the 620R. The entire car buzzes and vibrates – so much so when driving the rear and side mirrors are blurry. You can skip the massage for a day of driving! Some might complain about the stiffness; I find it engaging and suits the car. Interestingly, there is a harmonic to it. Around 2500 rpm, the car actually buzzes enough to rattle some carbon fiber interior bits- which are extensive and sublime. It’s pretty cool and the immediacy of the drivetrain is more transparent without the slop they remove, especially on downshifts with that incredibly loud CRACK!
One of the biggest surprises is that the exhaust is loud as hell and cracks HARD with downshifts – far louder and more violent than the 600lt, which is pretty cool. The 600lt seems to have them programmed in on race mode and become anticipated after knowing the car. The 620R’s vary and are genuine. The 620R’s transmission has different and superior shift programming and varies shifting better than the 600lt’s programming based on load, steering and what you’re doing with throttle percentage. The 620R’s sport setting seems faster and more violate than the 600lt’s track setting. The 620R’s track setting varies and can go from Dr. Jeckly to Mr. Hyde depending on the driving aggression. The 600lt’s just seems fixed per setting. My friend who was with me at delivery and drove through a short canyon drive in the 620R was howling like a wolf at the moon when it cracked at downshifts and laughed the entire drive. He kept saying he couldn’t believe how good the suspension was and exhaust sounded and of course how cool the roof scoop noises are in person and he comes from a formula D background, has a heavily modified Porsche TTS…and poor hearing.
Adding to that feeling and noise, the 620R has lighter window glass throughout and has not a single carpet or insulation comfort device. Instead, you see the beautiful carbon tub and are provided a sticker where your feet go for traction and to not mar the tub. As a consequence, you hear everything being flung up under the car seemingly more than a 600lt.
The brakes initially feel similar to a 600lt, however, from the canyon drive and being cold seem to run a more aggressive compound. This is evident by cold squeal; I don’t object. The 620R runs the same 600lt lightweight calipers paired with a senna booster which gives a longer and more progressive pedal than my track pack and calipers from the earlier models. The track pack brake pedal is more of a switch and then provides varying levels of hard pedal in a short travel. I don’t know if the 620R runs the upgraded senna rotors given GT4 pedigree, but that might be the only other possible difference if so. I’ll add SRF this weekend to see if that changes the pedal a bit and removes some travel and stiffens it up. From a decently long canyon jaunt, the brakes felt good, and pedal actually improved. My 620R only has just over a thousand miles and sat for many months, so that may be some of it.
The aero is a significant improvement with the S duct, quad guide vanes and GT4 rear wing. The turn in and front end grip from the GT4 splitter and dive planes simply destroys the 600lt I drove before on the same Trofeo Rs. It’s quite surprising. I used to hate the small 225/285 Trofeos on Finspeeds that I ran on the track pack, but surprisingly the 620R Trofeos get up to temp quicker than the track pack’s Cup2s on the Finspeeds. I saw temps in the 140s during my canyon drive and the temps immediately fell to 100 after a short freeway drive. The fender vents are functional with reliefs in the wheel liners. I never looked at the liners on a 600lt to confirm if they do same. There is significantly more aero felt on the 620R with more guide vanes than the high downforce kit. It is very noticeable in the canyon drive I took over a 600lt. McLaren publishes it has double the downforce of a 600lt and it is apparent. The wing comes in the lowest setting, so I changed that to the middle. The front end is simply amazing compared to the 600lt and it is crazy how compliant it is, yet you can throw it in to a corner and it sticks without objection or understeer the 600lt and track pack have.
The entire rear parcel shelf in carbon is pretty amazing site to behold. I think a lot of people don’t give it the credit it commands – I didn’t really notice it at first showing on a black 620R. What’s interesting is the interplay between the exhaust and roof scoop and how loud the exhaust is with the MSO titanium versus the 600lt exhaust. I’m told the MSO muffler is basically a straight pipe. In the 600lt, you can hear the roof scoop as primary. The roof scoop is still very audible though in the 620R and sounds amazing but is definitely second in presence to the exhaust. However, if you short shift the 620R you are back to par and enjoying the scoops breathing in and out off throttle along with the blow off valves. This is easy to do as the 620R runs a superior engine tune more than just the higher horsepower denotes. The 620R has massively superior torque in the midrange so much so you can short shift it where you bang off the limiter on a 600lt. Interestingly, the 620R runs a smaller gas tank only using 15g when fully empty. The 620R exhaust is deeper than the 600lt. The 600lt exhaust is about as loud as my track pack with the sport exhaust but deeper.
The IRIS is far more responsive by newer updates as a 2020 and includes new apps including streaming services the 570s/600lt do not. It also has a hard drive whereas the latter also do not. The 620R picture at start up is a nice touch like the 600lt has its own differentiating it from another sport series. However, at this price point, it would be nice if McLaren matched the photo to the actual car color (mine is orange) instead of portraying a white 620R on all units. The taller GT4 center carbon console is initially gimmicky but makes sense when you run the harnesses and cannot move as much, and even in normal driving is actually more comfortable and safer by less reach when selecting drive/esc modes. The red door pulls are the same. The extended carbon interior is nice. My track pack has the full extended carbon interior including center console and alcantara throughout, P1s fitted, but has a lower center console. I like the look of the red door nets on the doors in lieu of leather doors, but the latter actually stores things well. Everything for weight savings, right? But why are the nets, red center 12 o’clock stripe on the steering wheel and door pulls red? Why not orange or the option of matching the exterior as the 600lt permits? This is especially strange as my car has orange harnesses (with black regular belts) which leave the red color a bit confusing. It seems this was an attempt by McLaren to differentiate and make the car more special and unique. I like the splash of color but would have preferred orange (track pack is also Orange – see the theme?) As to the harnesses, in front of the massive carbon rear panel they are attached to the MSO harness bar. The shoulder belts loop around the bar and thread through the seats. The side belts have the outer fixed, and the inner mates to the seat latch. They all tie into the submarine belt which states “Track Use Only.” The locking mechanism is great, the initial setup is not; I almost castrated myself on the first drive as they were set for a midget and McLaren doesn’t make adjusting easy, burying the adjustment under the seat. The other adjusters in contrast are great. The shoulder belts have pulls with loops at the ends, and you lift up the clasp, yank the loop and release setting them. The side belts are normal belt ends.
The Senna seats are interesting and very different than P1s. Visually they’re gorgeous of course with only drips of padding to not obscure their fully carbon composition. The Sennas locate you at the hips and shoulders versus hips and lats in the P1’s, which would be good if you’re say… a more rotund gentleman. The hip area is the same, both being touring. They are very comfortable once in. For the short drives I’ve done, they are more comfortable than the P1s. However, the Sennas require more gymnastics to get in and out of. I felt I mastered getting out of the P1s without looking too silly. Perhaps I need to learn to summersault egress better. In either, the trick is to push the seats all the way back and roll out using your left forearm on the sill to swing your right let out and squat up. With the Sennas, the wheel is closer to the egress gap given the taller bottom sides and shoulder carbon excursions. Even with the additional summersault moves added to the egress procedure making it a chore, they are just so sexy dripping of carbon throughout that it is no moment. Ingress is the same, but you have to miss the shoulder excursions of the Sennas. A point goes to the P1’s as they have a wide pocket at the front where I like to put my phone. The Sennas just have delicious carbon. There is no real storage if you intend to drive the 620R hard and not have things fly about whereas in the track pack has an enclosed armrest and door pockets I could put things without ejection. With the Sennas, I find I put my phone in a hat on the passenger seat because they are so open, it will fall without. Alternatively, if I need to use it, I tuck it under my thigh as you can’t get to your pockets in situ with the higher thigh sides of the Sennas blocking your access. The center console between the seats in the 620R is open, entirely carbon inside which is nice, yet removes storage or a place to stick your elbow. No worry- the Senna seats won’t allow your elbow to reach there anyhow!
The roof scoop is amazing to look at, both inside and out. Exteriorly, it is amazing how McLaren mirrors the gloss carbon at a perfect angle down the center of both the roof and over the scoop. The same is true of the front bumper, splitter and hood. It is truly a hallmark of craftsmanship. I love how the scoop protrudes so far and has large gap from the roof under it at the front like a Pagani. Same goes for the entire GT4 carbon front end and S ducts with the beauty of the carbon nostrils under the bonnet. If they had the full GT4 size, and I couldn’t use the frunk, I wouldn’t complain. In the interior, the scoop ducting follows the inside carbon theme of being matt and extends from the roof going through the back firewall to feed the airboxes. In the rear view mirror, you can see it coming from the roof and splitting into a Y with the track camera in the middle. It’s nice seeing the full extended carbon interior tub sills which match the large matt carbon of the roof scoop ducting as well as all other interior carbon bits on the center console, doors, switches, IRIS et al. The full carbon sill cover is a major pop over my track pack’s half leather finishers.
The B&W stereo is similar to the 8 speakers in the track pack (seemingly by adding the tweeters,) but does have more sound fields in the options which is cool. I will say while it sounds as good and better with the extended highs, the lack of carpet is noticeable on the sound. It’s cool seeing the B&W logo on the bottom of the speaker pods on the doors when you open it, I don’t think the track pack shows same, or I just never noticed. It is neat seeing the slick tire option in the settings in addition to Trofeos. Otherwise, the menus seem about the same as the most recent updated sport series. The rear view backup camera screen being in the cluster is better than in the IRIS on earlier cars. My track pack although being a 2017 and am told should be in the cluster, had it in the IRIS. The car has the 3 camera track pack and I recorded and am trying to offload same as of late. FYI, my 620R is the exact car Doug Demurro reviewed on YouTube – you know, the Thisssss… is a (car) guy. Interestingly, Doug was in the memory of the track app when playing with it. Ha!
It is REALLY nice having the front lift. It was missing on my track pack despite being on the window sticker – thanks McLaren. However, it is cumbersome that you have to go in the menu and find it to use it though instead of just a designated stock or new button on the dash like the 765lt and Artura. You also can’t use it if there is a warning or without the seat belt latched which is annoying. The soft close doors are very nice as passengers can’t always seem to figure out the doors, and for once the door alignments are good – they had to be adjusted several times on the track pack. The carbon armadillo cover on the engine is nice. It’s funny, my 620R has the weird quirk of a piece of blue tape saying MSO on the rear firewall likely from production to add the roof scoop. I’m surprised Doug didn’t see that. Oh McLaren… It’s interesting how McLaren smoked the back window to hide where the third brake light was as it is in the wing now. The roof scoop consumes a bit of rear visibility. The wing is pretty impressive in person. I used to bad mouth it given the cost, but I get it now. The large 620r decal on is fun – my ARP wing is just carbon. It’s nice how they added covers over the wing adjustment bolts to finish it off (Must be removed when adjusting the wing.) It definitely is mounted far more rigidly to the chassis than my APR wing. They’re about the same size, but at different heights. You really can’t see much out of the back of the 620r compared to my track pack with the APR. The GT4 wing seems a little lower and the third brake light consumes area under the wing along with the roof scoop and trim under the roof line making visibility poor yet amazing to see the roof scoop ducting. On the rear it’s interesting that the 620R doesn’t run the track pack’s larger rear spoiler at the taillights. Otherwise, it looks the same with the same rear setup but with pinstriping on the 620R diffuser. The nano finish on the 620 tips is nicer though than the stealth on the track pack being flat.
Thus, IMHO, a 620R is special and more value than just the sum of even its exterior parts with the roof scoop, full carbon roof and cantrails (track pack has palladium roof but not cantrails.) It would be nice to have the rest of the external carbon bits. I may see about adding depending on how abhorrent the prices are after the fact. I think McLaren charges like 25k for the full exterior kit of rear bumper, spoiler, engine cover, doors, side ducts, mirror caps and side skirts as an option only on one of the 225 cars that already exist, that you cannot option and are no longer being made. Thanks for reading!
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Note: Pictures provided by SPR