A Week With A Supercar & The Realization That Followed

It’s one thing to drive an older car that gives you the sensation of high speed, but it’s a total other thing to genuinely drive fast.

I’d heard of this phenomena from others who have more seat time than I do on the track, and it’s a concept that I find may be hard to comprehend until you’re in the driver’s seat yourself.


I actually learned this quite literally a few weeks ago when I was given the opportunity to not only take the new McLaren 600LT out for some local driving and photos, but also spend a full day beating on it with the McLaren Club of San Francisco at a private owners’ track day.

Sounds like an epic experience, right? It was, but that’s not to say there weren’t some drawbacks either. Primarily, the realization of why these types of cars are totally unnecessary in the real world. I’ll get to that later though, as I’d rather start this off on a positive note.

Fun At The Corkscrew

The entire ordeal started out with an invitation to San Francisco McLaren’s private track day session at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. To be frank, I went into this without a single clue as to how it was going to play out. Was I going to drive a car? Was I going to be riding shotgun with one of their pro drivers? Was I going to be timed, or be part some sort of competition?


Without a clue in mind and some honest butterflies in my stomach, I took the Monday off from work and made way to Laguna Seca bright and early. Upon arrival, I was greeted with around 50 or so supercars being prepped in the paddocks – primarily McLarens, of course. A short drivers meeting within the different experience level groups was held, and before I could blink we set out on the track.


The car of choice: A 2018 McLaren 600LT. I found it to be a proper thoroughbred amongst the others, but I’ll dive more into that in a bit.

My sessions were to be accompanied by one of McLaren’s professional test drivers throughout the day, and I honestly wouldn’t have had it any other way. The amount of knowledge that I gained from his guidance was absolutely incredible. Everything from throttle control, to use of the entire corner, powering out, late and trail braking, and understanding the limits of the car – even learning the correct line through the absolutely blind Corkscrew. It was information overload, but an experience that would be unparalleled elsewhere.


As for the 600LT, what an impressive machine it was. Eight hours of back-to-back sessions between myself and two other drivers resulted in absolutely zero catastrophic failures. At one point the turbos began to get a little warm, and by the end of the day the tires were pretty much heat-cycled out, but other than those two minor drawbacks the car drove just as it had first thing in the morning.


And the technicalities of the car, well, all I can really say is that I am utterly proud of how far mankind has made it in the universe. With nearly 600hp and weighing just over 3,000lbs (1,360kgs), the 600LT is in a rank of its own. The chassis was incredibly stable, even at the crest of Laguna Seca’s straight at well over 150mph (241km/h). The carbon-ceramic brakes never lost their bite, nor did I ever get the sensation of brake fade. And I don’t think I could’ve lost grip if I even tried, even in Track mode.

In other terms, as berserk as the 600LT is, it was at home on the race track.


As the day ended, my body felt like it had gone through some sort of cross-fit session. My fingers were tingling, my back was aching, and I nearly made myself nauseous after so many hours of taking g-force after g-force through the rollercoaster of a track. To say I was impressed was an obvious understatement – until I took the car out later in the week on normal roads.

Here’s where things started to take a turn.

At Home On The Track, Not So Much On The Street

The moment I took possession of the car from the folks at San Francisco McLaren, I started to run into impracticality issues. There was a severe lack of space, though the ‘frunk’ managed to fit my camera bag (and that was about it). The ride was utterly stiff for being a ‘stock’ car, and most importantly, this thing couldn’t be any louder on the streets. And by loud, I don’t mean noise, I’m referring to the whole ‘look at me’ loud. You couldn’t be discreet about anything, no matter how hard you tried.

If you haven’t gotten the gist from my other articles, I prefer subtle.


‘Fair enough’ I thought to myself on the way up to my usual driving roads. Sure, the carbon seats and rigid uni-body provided quite a harsh ride, but this was a car that was designed to be driven in a spirited manner. And it was fairly well equipped with sat-nav and air-conditioning, so I continued trying to be optimistic about the car as the day passed.


The route to the shoot location consisted of some of the ‘fun’ roads that we frequent here in California’s Bay Area, and I thought I’d be able to unleash some of the 600LT’s potential again. Sure enough, I was wrong. Not because it couldn’t handle it, but because it was honestly just too fast.

Before you get all crazy on me, allow me to elaborate on this further. I promise it wasn’t user error…


I honestly believe that a proper driving experience consists of three critical pillars; the first being power balance, the second being handling, and the third being driver feel and/or feedback. Most will argue that the 600LT does all three of these, and performs well doing so. But I’d argue that though that may be true on the track, it’s almost too much for a road car.


Let’s put this into perspective: When driving something like an old Porsche 911 or a Datsun 240Z, you get sub-2,800lb (1,270kg) weight, sub-300hp, and a lack of any sort of technology to assist you. That results in a purely analog experience that enhances your senses, keeps you on your toes, and allows you to actually understand the inputs you’re putting in, and the results – or consequences – of those inputs. I think the term ‘slow car fast’ hits this characteristic right on the head.


Although the 600LT does give you feedback, it lacks this overall sensation tremendously. With a quarter of the throttle pedal and minimal steering effort, you can blow the doors off of any old car without even trying, all while being in something that probably won’t kill you since it corrects all of your mistakes on the fly.

Where’s the fun in that?

The Verdict

I ended the day in the heartfelt streets of San Francisco at one of my favorite garages. I figured it would be a nice way to digress on the experience.

Is the 600LT a thoroughbred on the track? Absolutely. But is it really a driver’s car? I’m not sure about that one…

For me, the purpose of driving is to go out and be able to mash on all of the pedals, all while not getting up to 100mph within a couple of seconds on the throttle. Maybe I’m old school, but I want to go through a turn with the car struggling to grip, forcing me to correct it with further input and quick reflexes. I want to make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes to further develop my skill. The last thing I’d ever ask for is computer assistance saving me, or the car. Is this foolish nonsense? Maybe…


Regardless of what side of the spectrum you agree with, there’s no denying that supercars are somewhat necessary. There’s hundreds of factors as to why these cars are produced in the first place. The innovation, the technology behind them, the cool factor – all of it makes sense in its own way.

But at the end of the day, even if money were no object, I’d still find myself in the seat of an old analog car.

Naveed Yousufzai
Instagram: eatwithnaveed



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I rarely post on these articles, but I just wanted to say this a great article! Well written, and a good read.

Naveed Yousufzai

I appreciate that, glad you enjoyed it!


I woulda picked the Senna just for kicks!

Naveed Yousufzai

If I could've, I would've :)


I think of supercars and other high-end cars the same way I do motorsport, in terms of their purpose: the "trickle down effect": awesome technology (not always necessarily performance related, either) is brought about with the rich car buyers funding the initial R&D, until its development is can be streamlined enough to put scaled-down versions of the tech in 'normal' cars. Eventually we all benefit.

Naveed Yousufzai

I totally agree, and by no means was I implying that I didn't appreciate the car, or that it didn't serve some sort of purpose. I guess in hindsight, I was just reminiscing on why analog is still my preferred choice of drivers car.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

A spot-on observation, Naveed. I work at a car dealer myself, and had the opportunity to drive various cars from supercars to even compact sedans. And supercars like this McLaren or even Lamborghini and Ferrari, they are just way too much to handle for urban driving. Too much power to be deployed nearly everywhere, you spend more time trying to be slow than to be fast. And the ride is so stiff, I would be my chiropractor's best client if I own any of those cars and drive them everyday.

I, too, prefer to drive a slow car fast, which feels much more rewarding when you take the car for some spirited drive up some mountain roads and nailing the perfect heel-and-toe as well as hitting those corner apexes correctly.

Naveed Yousufzai

It's all a preference, guess some of us are just old school.


Great article and definitely reflects my sentiments as well. Another side effect of faster cars is that roads that I love to drive in slower cars are not the same as the roads that I love to drive in faster cars. Case in point, Mt greylock is so much fun in a small hot hatch but not as fun in a sports car/supercar.

Naveed Yousufzai

That's also a great point. Some of the roads up here are so much more intense with fast paced car. So I totally agree with you!

Sebastian Motsch

Excellent write-up and conclusion, Naveed. Exactly reflecting my experiences with similar vehicles. There is just no way to even remotely have fun on public roads, because with every millimeter of pedal travel, you are already waving goodbye to your drivers license. I much prefer to drive a slow, analog car at the limit and still be halfway legal, while the smile goes from ear to ear.

PS: great pictures, especially lakeside and on the garage. Cheers.

Naveed Yousufzai

Appreciate that! Thanks!


Saying that those kind of cars arent needed, is mute.
Past food/shelter we technically dont "need" anything.
We dont need any of the "powered" stuff like seats/windows/locks or even an AC, yet we do have them, and they arent "good" to have, as they make cars heavier which means they use more gas.
Its more about being something i like, and i have the money to get it.
Why do ppl fly first class? They arive at the same time?
Its not needed. But some are willing to pay for. Same with anything past 4 wheels and a trunk.

Naveed Yousufzai

I don't disagree with you. I totally get the whole, "because I can" thing. I was more so directing my arguments to a personal preference. I also believe that just because you can, doesn't mean you should, but again, that leads to a personal preference.


sure at a certain level, the "i can" stuff isnt ok anymore, but stating they are completely unnecessary is a bit much.
or saying that those cars aren't good as a daily/regular car, completely misses the point.
+95% buying "those type" of cars dont need a daily driver, they have more than one car.

and with those type of cars, its the same as with many other things, e.g the military.
do you know how many things your using every day, that wouldn't be here without them?
example would be flash memory, as the military needed vibration resistant equipment.
and even when i look at the "eco" aspect, its not the case.
we waste multiple times more resources to heat/power/feed the population,
while producing way more emissions than ALL cars together.
not saying that is an excuse, but i rather reduce 10% of emissions from something like 1B tons of CO,
instead of 50% of something like 1M tons, that are coming from cars (numbers arent accurate).
until we have cars being the biggest emission problem (and i count electricity to charge cars as well),
i dont see why those shouldn't exist.


Great article on the 2018 McLaren. Easy to read and understood what you were saying. Great job an great photos.


That steeringwheel-shot is so awesome!


I agree with your sentiments about what makes a good driver's car. I have been learning about the counterpoints, though. One colleague told me he prefers the PDK in is E90 because it makes the performance more accessible (I accused him of just being too lazy to downshift). Another friend told me he loves the AWD and electronic aides in his F32 because it prevents him from putting it in a ditch like he did with his fox mustang in college.
Different strokes I guess. In any case, I am beginning to appreciate why someone would want such things in a street car.


Both of those people sound like idiots.


Great article. And perfect observations on the 'look at me' factor. One of the reasons I sold my 12C and R8 - attracted way too much attention for me. I also prefer handling precision to outright speed. There is more to life than 0 - 60 times.


just maybe this kind of cars are not built to be driver by a enthusiast that has only one car. I mean most owners of this have a stable of cars. and this one will definitely not their daily driver. So even if they say it's been driven from home to work. Its not 365 days a year.


I couldn't agree more. While I've never had cars as fast as the McLaren, I've had Superbikes, 400hp s13's, turboed Honda's and the like.

I now find myself in my mid 30's owning a well set up AE86 with close to standard power with decent tyres and a bucket seat, as well as a similarly set up NA Eunos roadster and they are quite honestly the two most fun-in-real-life situation cars I've ever had.

It's much better to be able to have fun at 45 mph around a corner compared to having to be doing double or more than that in a higher powered vehicle to get the same feeling. It's also much more rewarding driving an analogue car with no aides knowing that you're the only thing in control of your destiny.


Dont think I have ever posted on here before but just wanted to say amazing photos and probably the best colour / spec mclaren I have seen!

Drivers car / Track car debate I wouldnt know where to start. In the uk over 100bhp is probably useless unless you like getting up at 4am on a sunday, in the dry and you live in the black mountains but I know what you mean about when is something "enough" vs "too much"


It's funny because people actually think this car is fast. It's all relative--keep in mind a Formula Mazda will run faster lap times around Willow Springs and it will run for 10-12 entire race seasons before ever needing to be rebuilt.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: supercars are bought by morons who want to impress people with their pocket books, not real drivers.


You guys really don't like facts on this site huh?