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Here’s What It’s Like to Drive McLaren’s 611 HP Street-Legal Racer, the 620R

Pulling up to the motor club in this one will have everybody envious.

McLaren 620R Photo by Robb Rice.

As I pull up to the hotel entrance, the 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 shudders the ground beneath my McLaren 620R. Also trembling, with palpable excitement, is the parking concierge, who appears barely old enough to drive. “Are those the Senna racing seats?” he blurts, transfixed, ignoring the other vehicles. For a model comprising just 225 examples, of which only 70 will hit North America, the 620R has a reputation that precedes it.

The grand finale for McLaren’s Sports Series, the 620R is a street version of the brand’s FIA-homologated 570S GT4 racer, with the same engine and carbon-fiber chassis but unconstrained by motorsport regulations. On an open stretch of freeway, the 611 hp coupe, with 457 ft lbs of grunt available at 3,500 rpm, feels every bit the pole-position competitor, though the dual-clutch transmission manages the seven speeds with such stealth precision that it barely registers. Increased grip is thanks in part to a new front splitter, air intakes and vents on the carbon-fiber hood, plus the huge, three-way-adjustable rear wing. Altogether, it amounts to 408 pounds of downforce at 155 mph.

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Driving the McLaren 620R in Malibu.

The 611 hp McLaren 620R.  Photo by Robb Rice.

The ripping engine and high-tech aero combine to help the 2,826-pound (dry weight) coupe hustle to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds before topping out at 200 mph. Velocity is reversed via the indefatigable carbon-ceramic brakes fitted with forged-aluminum calipers. An optional motorsport-grade damper enables the aluminum wishbone suspension to be optimally customized for closed-course performance, while the road-focused adaptive damper found in my test model allows for three drive modes—Normal, Sport and Track—throughout the various handling and power-train settings.

The cockpit of the McLaren 620R.

The race-purposed interior means everything is in easy reach, from the controls on the elevated center console to the dihedral doors fit with pull straps.  Photo by Drew Phillips, courtesy of McLaren Automotive.

Any sane buyer will opt for the track-oriented suspension, because to choose otherwise is to miss the point of the car entirely—not that the machine will stop reminding you. To maximize weight savings, the glovebox and carpeting have been scrapped from the already spartan interior, and other sound-dampening is minimal. At idle, the mirrors vibrate so hard as to be unusable. Induction sound from the optional roof-mounted air intake adds to the cacophony. Given all the noise, only those with a twisted sense of humor will option the 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system, though dedicated racing types will gladly upgrade to the Pirelli slicks and six-point cockpit harness.

The rear view of the McLaren 620R.

Aerodynamic elements, such as the three-way-adjustable rear wing, contribute to a total of 408 pounds of downforce at 155 mph.  Photo by Robb Rice.

As McLaren’s Sport Series swan song, the 620R may also be among the last to rely solely on combustion, if the new hybrid Artura offers any sense of direction. One thing’s for sure: With a starting price of $275,250, it’s on the short list for anyone looking to incite fear and envy at the motor club—not to mention on the vision board of a certain young valet.

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