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McLaren 600LT Spider review: lean and roofless

McLaren 600LT Spider

Regular readers may recall I said the McLaren 600LT was the most exciting car I drove in 2018. My review concluded: ‘The [forthcoming] 600LT Spider is essentially the same, but with a folding hard-top roof. Will that end up being the best driver’s car launched in 2019? Don’t bet against it’. Time to discover if McLaren has done the double.

First, though, a quick recap. The 600LT is a harder, faster version of McLaren’s ‘junior’ 570S supercar: less daily-driver, more track-day toy. The LT suffix stands for ‘Longtail’, and you’ll find a fixed spoiler and twin top-exit exhausts on the elongated rear deck. Some parts, such as the lowered suspension and bigger brakes, are borrowed from the more exotic 720S, while power climbs by 30hp to 600hp.

Read more Motoring Research reviews FIRST on City AM

The 600LT’s F1-style carbon fibre chassis is so stiff that chopping off its top requires no extra bracing. The electric roof – which folds in 15 seconds at up to 25mph – adds 48kg, but the Spider still weighs up to 100kg less than its 570S sibling, depending on which options you choose. The thinly-padded racing seats from the Senna hypercar are 3.66kg lighter, for instance, while titanium wheel bolts shave a further 420g. Masochists can even forgo air conditioning (12.6kg) and an audio system (3.3kg) in the quest to cut kilos.

McLaren 600LT Spider

On-paper performance is scarcely compromised versus the coupe. Zero to 62mph takes an identical 2.9 seconds and, at 201mph (or a hair-raising 196mph with the roof down), few will quibble about a 3mph deficit flat-out. This latest Longtail isn’t just about straight-line speed, though: corners are its specialist subject. With that in mind, I set my alarm for 5am, fire up the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 – thus waking up most of south London – and flee the city for deepest Suffolk, in search of B-road bliss.

It’s before dawn and I still have the M25 to contend with so, rather than going fully topless, I retract the drop-down rear window. The truncated tailpipes, which spit flames at high revs, are now inches behind my unguarded eardrums, their furious rasps and downshift detonations so hard-edged they could crack concrete. Previous McLarens were criticised for sounding muted. Not this one. My 600LT Spider does have a stereo (3.3kg penalty be damned), but I don’t switch it on once.

As the sun burns away the morning dew, I exit the A12 and fold the roof fully. The effect is like licking salt after downing a double tequila: an intoxicating sensory overload. The V8 revs like a superbike, body control is utterly iron-fisted and the 600LT’s hydraulic steering is so direct it feels almost precognitive. It turns into bends with motorsport-grade adhesion, then punches outwards with concussive force. This blend of deft dynamics with shock-and-awe savagery is something only the more focused Ferraris and Porsche’s GT cars can equal.

McLaren 600LT Spider

It’s not perfect, though. The 600LT coupe is incredible on-track, as I learned last year at the Hungaroring, and I’ve no doubt the Spider would feel just as tenacious and explosive. Likewise, on smooth roads, it’s hard to imagine a more rewarding way to lose your licence. However, on broken British tarmac, with all its cracks and potholes, the 600LT can feel too firm and unflinching. By the time I rejoin the M25 home, I’m like a tired toddler suffering a sugar-crash.

So, today’s nugget of prudent consumer advice: if you want a daily-driver, go for the softer-sprung 570S. A weekend plaything? Definitely the 600LT. As for the best driver’s car of 2019, we have a few months of the year left – and a review of the new Porsche Cayman GT4 still to come. Place your bets now.

Price: £201,500

0-62mph: 2.9sec

Top speed: 201mph

CO2 G/KM: 266

MPG combined: 24.1

This review was originally published in City AM.

In pictures: McLaren 600LT Spider

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McLaren Senna recalled for fire risk

McLaren Senna recalled for fire risk

The McLaren Senna has officially been recalled due to a fire risk. This follows numerous reports of cars combusting, including the Senna of famous YouTuber, Salomondrin.

The cause of the fires has until now been unknown. However, the recall details an issue with wiring sustaining heat damage.

A branch of the vehicle harness runs close to a metal link pipe heat shield. The heat damage causes overfueling to the engine, which then increases catalyst temperatures. It’s the catalyst that has been identified as the source of the fire risk.

Cars affected were built between 21 June 2018 and 20 June 2019. McLaren advises owners that if they think their car may be affected, they should contact their McLaren dealer urgently, if it hasn’t already contacted them.

Salomondrin (real name Alejandro Salomon) posted a video of his car catching fire in January. He’d had the car less than two weeks, and had done around 400 miles, when it went up while he was driving. He claimed that while driving he noticed sparks and fire shooting from his exhaust, landing on the ground and staying lit.

He found an area where the car could burn without fear of setting surrounding trees or foliage on fire, and left it to do its thing.

McLaren Senna recalled for fire risk

The Senna joins a host of recent supercars that have suffered from fire issues. During testing recently, a prototype for the McLaren Speedtail burst into flames in Surrey, England.

A prominent past case of combusting supercars was the Porsche 911 GT3 of 2013. Following reports of multiple fires, Porsche recalled all ‘new’ GT3s for significant engine work.

Likewise, with the Ferrari 458, there were multiple incidents of cars catching fire. It was recalled for a change in adhesive, to a less flammable type.

This is the world’s most immaculate McLaren F1

Restored McLaren F1

McLaren is flexing its official Certification program by MSO again this year, by showing off chassis F1 #63  in a freshly-restored and newly-certified state. You can see it in person at Hampton Court Concours d’Elegance 2019 next week.

The restoration took 18 months, and involved a full engine and transmission rebuild, and a complete interior retrim.

On the inside, new leather and alcantara trim is complemented by a new steering wheel taken from MSO’s stockpile of original parts. The owner kept the original wheel as a memento – so cool.

Restored McLaren F1

Following the rebuild, the BMW V12 engine was even dyno-tested to make sure it produced figures befitting an F1.

Other parts were also sent back to their original suppliers for refurbishment and rebuild. The dampers went back to Bilstein while the driveshafts and hubs were also refreshed by their original supplier.

The result, after those 18 months, and 3,000 man-hours, is a near good-as-new McLaren F1, track-proven and complete with a certificate of authenticity and history file. The owner even got a scale model created from a laser scan of the car.

Restored McLaren F1

MSO’s certified program is pretty well the closest thing anyone will get to experiencing taking delivery of a brand new McLaren F1. The catch is that you have to own one to send in for a restoration in the first place…

“Just 12 months ago we announced the MSO McLaren F1 Heritage programme with the unveiling of F1 25R, resplendent in Gulf Racing Colours”, said Ansar Ali, Managing Director, McLaren Special Operations.

Restored McLaren F1

“Following an extensive restoration, which was very much a labour of love for our team, it’s an honour to now display chassis 63 at the Hampton Court Concours d’Elegance.

“With the work the team has carried out, this car will continue to fulfil the original brief for the McLaren F1; to create the world’s finest road car.”

The 250mph McLaren Speedtail is named ‘Best in Show’

McLaren Speedtail is an award-winner

McLaren’s Speedtail, the long-awaited hyper GT currently in development, is still some way from the clutches of its lucky owners. However, it has been named ‘Best in Show’ at an event in France – the Concours d’Elegance at Chantilly Arts & Elegance.

This is a previously unseen example of the Ultimate Series grand tourer. Presented in a Saragon Quartz body with an Oxblood aniline leather and nubuck interior, it’s subtle but stylish.

It’s intended to showcase the bespoke luxury materials and finishes available on the Speedtail.

McLaren Speedtail is an award-winner

It wowed the crowds, winning ‘Best of Show’ 2019 in the Concours d’Elegance. Grand touring was a bit of a theme for McLaren at the event, with the Speedtail joined by its junior sibling, the McLaren GT.

As a reminder, the McLaren Speedtail is the marque’s fastest car to date, with a top speed of over 250mph. It does so with the power of a petrol hybrid powertrain with over 1,000hp.

Famously, it joins the F1 in being able to bring two other passengers along for the ride. Yes, the classic central-driving three-seat layout is back. Just 106 examples of the Speedtail are set for production, with each one reportedly spoken for.

McLaren Speedtail is an award-winner

“To have the McLaren Speedtail recognised as ‘best of the show’ by the judges of the Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille is a great honour for us,” said David Gilbert, managing director Europe, McLaren Automotive.

McLaren Speedtail is an award-winner

“The McLaren design team is always brave in its approach. Receiving this award for the stunning design, craftsmanship and innovation is a fantastic reward to the team back in Woking.”

Revealed: the cheapest way to own a new McLaren 720S

ride-on McLaren 720S

McLaren has unveiled a new version of the 720S supercar and it’s 700 times cheaper than usual. Inevitably, though, there is a catch.

The £315 electric ride-on 720S is perfect for the children of discerning McLaren owners. It even has the trademark butterfly doors.

ride-on McLaren 720S

Other features not unlike the normal 720S include an infotainment screen, complete with the ability to play music or movies. Because this baby McLaren isn’t entertaining enough already…

Being a kiddy car, it’s barely the size of a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. There’s no word on how much power the electric motor makes, but safe to say it won’t be troubling the real thing.

Also new is the autonomous driving feature. Well, semi-autonomous. Parents who don’t fancy handing their little one McLaren power can control the car remotely.

ride-on McLaren 720S

As for other bits of realism, the car starts on a key, and has accelerator and brake pedals. It even has brake lights for when the driver hits the anchors. It could be a bit of an analogue hero, too; we doubt this new model has ABS.

Three- to six-year-olds can get into a ‘Papaya Spark’ orange 720S from official McLaren retailers later in the year. Other colour options will follow soon afterwards.

McLaren puts on £50 million supercar display

McLaren display in Woking

McLaren has assembled 23 of its modern-day road cars at its Woking HQ to celebrate the company’s employee, friends and family open day.

The line-up of cars – which was too big to fit within the dimensions of our standard image size – is thought to be worth around £50m.

It’s the first time McLaren has ‘reunited’ its modern icons in Woking, with 3,000 employees present to see the unique line-up.

Everything from the P1 GTR to the new Speedtail was on hand to create a colourful and expensive display of sports cars, supercars and hypercars. For a full list, skip to the bottom of the page.

‘How far we’ve come’

Mike Flewitt, chief executive officer, McLaren Automotive, said: “Seeing our famous line-up of cars assembled here for the first time today is a reminder to everyone of how far we’ve come as a company in such a short space of time and the ambition and innovation of our people who have helped create that success.

“It’s thanks to them, with the support of their friends and families, that we have been able to achieve so much, so quickly and launch so many amazing cars, over 90 per cent of which are exported around the world.

“Our ambition as a company remains stronger than ever and we look forward to adding more amazing drivers’ cars to our range very soon.”

McLaren £50m display in Woking

A month ago, McLaren Automotive celebrated the 20,000th car to be built in Woking. A total of 4,800 cars left the factory in 2018, with 90 percent of the cars exported to more than 32 different markets.

Mike Flewitt said: “While demand for our products continues to grow, we aim to balance that to maintain exclusivity for our brand and our customers. It is fitting that we celebrate this achievement with a 600LT Spider, which has been a huge success for us with all production slots for the coupe variant now sold out.”

For more McLaren goodness, check out our guide to the special cars linked to Le Mans and everything you need to know about the new McLaren GT

The line-up in full

McLaren 570SMcLaren 570S Spider McLaren 570GT
McLaren 570S GT4McLaren 675 LT SpiderMcLaren 675 LT
McLaren 600LTMcLaren 600LT SpiderMcLaren GT
McLaren SpeedtailMcLaren F1 XP5McLaren P1
McLaren P1 GTRMcLaren SennaMcLaren 720S GT3
McLaren MSO 720S SpiderMcLaren 720S McLaren MSO 688HS
McLaren 650S SpiderMcLaren 650S CoupeMcLaren 12c 50th Anniversary Spider
McLaren 650S Can AmMcLaren 12 (Job #1) 

Spoiler alert: McLaren 570S gets aggressive new styling kit

MSO Defined High Downforce Kit for McLaren 570

Track-focused 600LT a bit much for you? Well, you can now get (most of) the look on McLaren’s more affordable 570S models, courtesy of the MSO Defined High Downforce Kit.

At first glance, a rear spoiler may seem to be stretching the definition of ‘kit’. However, the carbon fibre wing works together with additional aerodynamic guide vanes on the underside of the car to create a measurable effect.

For £7,950, you get an additional 75kg of downforce, along with plenty of added attitude.

MSO Defined High Downforce Kit for McLaren 570

“We are constantly looking for opportunities to make the latest and very best designs and technologies available, not only to new car buyers but also to customers who already own a McLaren,” said Carl Whipp, global aftersales director at McLaren.

“The new MSO Defined High Downforce Kit is a perfect example of this ethos, offering both a transformative visual enhancement and dynamic benefits.”

Ground effect, visual effect

MSO Defined High Downforce Kit for McLaren 570

Cynical? We were too, but when you consider the target market for the 570, adding a bit of ‘skunkworks’ visual addenda to the options list isn’t a bad idea. Especially given many customers will be visiting aftermarket vendors for similar add-ons. McLaren is aiming to edge out the likes of Novitec and Vorsteiner with its own offering.

It doesn’t look half bad, either. It’s hardly the sort of air-cleaver McLaren offers on some of its Ultimate Series models, but this smaller wing suits the subtler Sports Series cars rather well.

MSO Defined High Downforce Kit for McLaren 570

The best bit? Without those 600LT-style top-exit exhausts, there’s no chance of your new spoiler getting singed.

The HDK is available from official McLaren retailers now. Bear in mind, however, that the four hours it takes to fit is not included in the price.

Gordon Murray’s online museum is virtually brilliant

Gordon Murray McLaren F1 LM

Warning: if you intend to immerse yourself in the virtual world of Gordon Murray’s online exhibition, a lunch-hour won’t be enough. Tell your boss you need to spend the afternoon researching. Or something.

The One Formula exhibition is an internet-based museum, allowing visitors to ‘wander’ (and wonder) through 50 years of Gordon Murray’s work. It’s free to enter and there are no queues.

Forty different road and race cars are on show, ranging from the iconic McLaren F1 to Ayrton Senna’s MP4/4 Formula One car. Visitors can even ‘sit’ in the cockpits, which is something you’re unlikely to do at a real museum.

Well, not unless you fancy having your collar felt by a friendly security guard or being chased off the premises by a curator.

‘The next best thing’ to reality

Gordon Murray IGM MinBug

Professor Gordon Murray, CBE, said: “It is such thrill to share my passion for engineering purity, beautiful design, aerodynamic excellence, and technological innovation. Creating an exhibition in a free-to-view format, accessible to all, in stunning virtual reality is exciting and a source of great pride.

“For the One Formula exhibition, we gathered almost every race and road car from my 50-year career to date, and we were inundated with requests from fans across the world who wanted to visit. Being a short-term, private exhibition meant we couldn’t share our passion with these enthusiasts. So, doing so in virtual form is the next best thing!”

Other exhibits include the IGM MinBug designed and built by Murray in 1971, the IGM Midas-Alfa of 1981, the OX flat-pack truck, and the TVR Griffith.

The opening of the exhibition coincides with the launch of Murray’s One Formula book, a two-volume, 900-page epic charting 50 years of automotive design and engineering.

To lose an entire afternoon ‘walking’ through the online exhibition, visit oneformulagordonmurray.com.

From F1 to GT: The history of McLaren road cars in pictures

McLaren is known the world over for its success on the racetrack, but in recent years it has also challenged Ferrari and Porsche on the road. Not many race car constructors could pull off the move, but McLaren has. Here, we chart its history.

More McLaren on Motoring Research:

McLaren F1 (1993)

The revived McLaren company had also targeted a move from racetrack to road for years, but only decided to do so in the late 1980s. Legend has it, the decision came after team boss Ron Dennis and designer Gordon Murray got chatting in an airport after a delayed flight.

The McLaren F1 became the firm’s first-ever road car at launch in 1992 – and, with a 242mph top speed, easily the world’s fastest. Fittingly, it’s P1 in McLaren’s road car codename chronology.

Ironically, the F1 went full circle back to the racetrack and won Le Mans…

Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (2003)

Skip forward a few years (and a few abandoned projects) for McLaren’s next road car: the 2006 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. Codenamed P7, it was a Mercedes-Benz concept that McLaren put into production – hence the name hierarchy.

A faster 722 version, a Roadster, the limited-run Sir Stirling Moss and McLaren Edition MSO versions would follow

McLaren MP4-12C (2011)

McLaren’s breakthrough road car, the ‘P11’ MP4-12C (you’ll note a few more McLaren ‘P’ concepts were lost along the way). At launch, McLaren announced to the world it was a Ferrari-beater: it wasn’t quite, but it would soon develop into one.

At the end of 2012, McLaren dropped the MP4 bit from the name: it was now officially just ‘12C’. As well as adding a drop-top Spider, it also boosted power from 600 to 625 horsepower, tweaked other parts of the drivetrain and fitted proper door release buttons rather than the troublesome ‘swipe to open’ launch system.

McLaren P1 (2013)

Revealed at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, the McLaren P1, codenamed P12, was a stunning hypercar that’s part of McLaren’s pinnacle Ultimate Series range. Just 375 were made, with 58 track-only GTR variants following. Its active aero, gratuitous turbo ‘whoosh’ and road-hugging track mode are now the stuff of legend.

McLaren 650S (2014)

In 2014, McLaren revealed the 650S at the Geneva Motor Show. Dubbed ‘P11M’, it was a 12C wearing a P1-style nose. The idea was to offer 12C and 650S alongside one another, but orders for the 12C naturally dried up. McLaren thus discontinued the 12C (and offered the 3,500 existing 12C owners a ‘650S upgrade’ pack). The 650S was also available as a drop-top Spider.

McLaren 675LT (2015)

In 2015, the mighty 675LT arrived. That’s LT for ‘longtail’, harking back to the 1997 F1 GT. A full-length rear airbrake, hyper-tuned suspension and a wild 675 horsepower engine made for an exceptional drive (and enough speed around a track to almost match the P1). Weirdly, they also took a tin-opener to this most hardcore of models, for the Spider variant.

McLaren 570S (2015)

McLaren rounded out 2015 with what was to prove its important car yet – the 570S. A more affordable, more accessible sports car to take on the Porsche 911 and Audi R8, this is the car that saw McLaren Automotive grow to its target of building 4,000 road cars a year – and beyond. A drop-top 570S would follow, for those who want their Sports Series McLaren with a bit more sky.

McLaren 570GT (2016)

The 570GT was the first modern McLaren that wasn’t billed as an out-and-out sports car. It was more rounded, with (slightly) more supple suspension and a side-hinged glass tailgate that revealed a load bay bigger than many superminis. It’s this GT theme that the firm has subsequently developed further…

McLaren 720S (2017)

The mighty McLaren 720S was the firm’s Super Series replacement for the 650S – and the first time it had given one of its cars a ground-up makeover. The name says it all: 720 horsepower. Performance is absolutely incredible: no wonder it scooped the 2019 World Performance Car of the Year prize. Now available in open-air Spider flavour, too.

McLaren Senna (2018)

McLaren’s next Ultimate Series model was a curious follow-up to the P1. Once you get past the controversial styling, you find no hybrid systems and less power than the car that preceded it. That’s because the Senna is all about pure track work – lightweight function over form. You know what doesn’t give as much downforce as a Senna? Most conventionally pretty cars. You know what weighs a lot more? The P1, with its batteries. We reckon this 800hp tribute to Ayrton goes well enough without extra electric puff.

McLaren 600LT (2018)

Long-awaited, given the superb reaction to the 570, was this more hardcore 600LT variant. You know the drill: weight down, power up, handling tuned, aero added. This fire-spitting GT3 RS-baiter topped many Car of The Year votes, including our own. Curiously, this hardcore track version is also available with the wind-in-the-hair experience. Further testament to the stiffness of that incredible carbon tub.

McLaren Speedtail (2019)

The Speedtail is the second wave of McLaren’s two-pronged hypercar attack. It’s pretty much the opposite of the Senna in every way. This car is all about being smooth and comfortable: a hyper GT. A 250mph 1,000hp hybrid whale-tail private jet for the road, it will also carry three occupants, with the driver in the middle – a nod to the F1 that started it all.

McLaren GT (2019)

Finally, the GT. It’s a new model inspired by the success of the 570GT. This is the third of McLaren’s road cars (after the 570GT and Speedtail) to shirk outright track performance for grand touring prowess. Its sleek looks immediately mark it out as something more nuanced than its bewinged brethren. Its boot will take overnight bags and golf clubs with ease, while a new infotainment system should be a big improvement. Still want that Aston Martin DB11 AMR?

McLaren GT: all you need to know about the baby Speedtail

McLaren GT

McLaren has unveiled its new GT model. It will be the fifth independent model in the range, excluding LT, Spider and GT versions of its 570 and 720 models.

You might wonder where it sits in the McLaren range. The Sports, Super and Ultimate Series models are easily divided by performance, price and exclusivity.

McLaren

The GT is intended to be a bit more nuanced, shirking a focus on outright performance for a specific use: Grand Touring. Think of it as a middle ground between the 570GT and the Speedtail, though definitely closer to the former…

The first true McLaren Grand Tourer

McLaren GT

It doesn’t quite find a home within the existing three-level structure of McLaren’s lineup. It’s still a McLaren – mid-engined, with a twin-turbo V8 and a carbon tub – but everything has been tuned and geared towards being a cosseting continent crosser.

McLaren GT

So that means the ride comfort, cabin refinement, control optimisation and weights have all been geared towards amenability and daily usability. The new Proactive Damping Control suspension system is instrumental in realising the GT’s new more cosseting personality.

The ride height and ground clearance have even been developed with urban driving and speed bumps firmly in mind. 

McLaren GT: elegance over aggression

McLaren GT

While the GT is recognisably a McLaren, some of the marque’s more controversial design elements are gone, in favour of a more traditional look.

That means no 720S-style ‘eye sockets’ or even lights in the shape of a McLaren logo, as per previous cars. It’s a simple, slim and elegant light design, with no excessively-sized vents at all. That means most of the madness of the Senna is nowhere to be seen.

We say most, given that those gaping side vents rear of the doors look oddly familiar…

McLaren

There isn’t even any active aero, as far as we can tell. There’s no aggressive splitter, no jagged aero-focused rear end. The exhausts are low down and the diffuser is by no means intrusive.

The air exit vent, within which the elegant strip lights reside, is of a stylish and modest shape, sitting under a subtle ducktail into which the top of the car tapers.

McLaren

The styling, while more subtle than what we’ve grown accustomed to from McLaren, isn’t where the GT-ness is at its strongest, though.

You have to step inside.

The cabin of the McLaren GT

McLaren

Some of the finest luxuries in motoring are space and light. While the GT is no four-up tourer like a Ferrari GTC4Lusso, it has an overabundance of transparent surfaces that bathe the cabin in light to give it an airy feel.

The obvious large glass areas are joined by a transparent roof and buttress elements, first seen on the 720S Spider.

To look at, besides being nicely naturally lit, the interior is familiar McLaren. It does, however, feature the new (much improved and much needed) HERE infotainment system, which is McLaren’s most sophisticated system to date.

McLaren GT

One thing a GT car needs is a sizeable boot. The GT comes complete with 570 litres of storage space including the front trunk (or ‘frunk’).

In the back, McLaren knows the audience it wants for this car.

McLaren

The rear storage is big enough for a set of golf clubs, big bags and skis, and accessible via the front-hinged, full-length glazed tailgate (under which you’d find an engine in most supercars).

That lid is available with power operation, for the ultimate in McLaren GT convenience…

Power and performance: it’s still a supercar

McLaren GT

While a Grand Tourer, it’s still the McLaren of Grand Tourers. As such, you can expect serious performance for when you’ve finished relaxing.

The 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is a development of the units found in the 720S and Senna. With 620hp and 464lb ft of torque, it’s the least powerful of the three, but provides a ‘torque curve to ensure seamless, relentless acceleration’.

McLaren

Because 0-62mph times aren’t very GT, McLaren quotes a nine-second 0-124mph time. Assume that 62mph will arrive in the low threes. Top end, it’ll be going 203mph.

Truthfully, performance figures are almost an irrelevance in this car. As long as it’s got good overtaking power (it’s a McLaren, so this is a given), it does the job.

How much is it and when can I have one?

McLaren GT

The McLaren GT is available to order now, and if your name is one of the first on the list, you can expect delivery ‘towards the end of 2019’. Prices start from £163,000, but we expect a nicely-specced car will be closer to £200,000.

Twenty thousand cars? At this rate, McLaren Automotive will hit 25,000 units in no time at all.