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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

A tail of two cities: 1400 miles in a McLaren 600LT

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We crawl at 40mph or so, but I can’t risk going too slowly in case somebody arrives at some greater speed from behind us. Every time the road ahead disappears behind a screen of water or is lost in disorienting reflections, I simply wait for the crunch of carbonfibre against Armco. 

Thank heavens, I think aloud, that the 600LT’s track-day tyres were swapped for P Zeros: even these all-weather tyres aquaplane now and again. More stressed than I have ever been in a car, I pull off the autobahn and wait for the storm to pass.

Blessedly, the next morning is dry and bright. We head west away from Munich towards Stuttgart. Along the way, we nudge 170mph a couple of times before traffic slows our progress. At around midday, we cross into France, where the autoroutes are so much quieter than the German autobahns that they’re actually more pleasant to drive along, despite their strict speed limits. Our run through France is uneventful but, along the way, we stop at the old Reims pit buildings, for a certain Bruce McLaren raced Formula 1 machinery here five times, winning the non- championship race in 1962.

The sprint back to Calais is a short one, but the 600LT’s lightweight seats have long since ceased to be comfortable. Our backs are sore and our legs numb. Those seats are perfect for circuit driving, I’m sure, but for very long stints at the wheel, they’re not so brilliant. They are the reason that I don’t feel too sorry to wave goodbye to the 600LT, although before we do that, a road closure on home soil in Kent means wefind ourselves driving along a bumpy B-road – a classic British stretch. The car feels tense, but the damping is so good that the ride isn’t at all crashy or uncomfortable. The margins between this car and the 570S may be small, but by being a little bit better than an already superb performance car, the 600LT is a show-stopper.

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We make west London late on Wednesday evening, two solid 14-hour days behind us. I wave the McLaren away and, as it disappears, I begin longing for my next drive in a 600LT.

Budapest to London, the scenic way: 

From Budapest, we drove to Vienna, picking up the A1. At Salzburg, we turned off towards the south to the Grossglockner Pass before diverting to Munich. The next day, we went along the A8 into France, to Reims, Calais and, finally, home.

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