GT4 racing is great. Precious few series boast the diversity of a GT4 grid - everything from a Cayman to a Camaro has a GT4 racer, Alpine A110 to Audi R8 - with close competition on some great tracks. The cars are accessible and tremendous fun to drive, too, providing you get the Paddock Hill braking point correct...
To make the most of this, and presumably to mark its recent success (the 570S GT4 has won the Scandinavian GT title, taken wins in British GT and triumphed in Pirelli GT4 America) McLaren has opted to blur the lines between race and road like never before and build a road-going GT4 car: the 620R, a forthcoming model variant leaked to PH by someone lucky enough to be near the top of a retailer's call sheet.
A first-rate relationship with your local McLaren dealer is going to be essential if the car had you at hello because the manufacturer's official response to PH's request for further information was succinct: "This is a car we are offering to select customers by invitation only." By 'select' it would probably help to have a 600LT already on the driveway (as our willing PHer does) and of course 'by invitation' means that the 620R will be neither cheap nor plentiful. Expect the car to be lower volume than the LT - and more expensive, too.
The return on investment, though, is likely to be significant. Even with just two pictures to go on, it's clear that McLaren has upped its track-focussed game when compared to the 600LT. Plainly this is a race car made road legal rather than a road car aimed at occasional track use. The aerodynamic package, most prominently the rear spoiler, front splitter, intake arrangement and diffuser, all migrate from the GT4. It wouldn't be a race car, even one for the road, without some front aero flics, either, which are present and correct just ahead of what looks like the same 18-inch magnesium wheels. See that new roof scoop, too, and the fact that the 620R forgoes the LT's direct-exit exhaust for the race car's configuration. It'll sound different, then. But presumably it'll be the transformative effect on the handling characteristics which will stand as the new model's defining feature.
At the risk of reading too much into a rendering, side-by-side comparison with the 600LT indicates that the 620R is notably lower than its sibling, suggesting that the car has probably earned the GT4's coilover springs and adjustable dampers - and potentially its wider track as well. Just how much of that new aero package is adjustable remains to be seen - obviously the race car can be adapted to meet the demands of an individual circuit. Carbon ceramic brakes are a near certainty, and tyre choice is likely to be extensive, too. McLaren has a proven history of doing such things properly when it really sets its mind to it.
It also has some history when it comes to redeploying the GT4's dramatic look. Fans of the brand may recall the MSO X, a run of ten 570S cars commissioned by McLaren Newport Beach in January of last year which exactly mimicked the racing car's appearance. Of course, that was more of styling exercise, but the stripped-out interior (pictured) at least gives some indication of where the manufacturer might have gone with the 620R's cabin. Certainly you can expect all non-essential items to have been jettisoned, and while the renderings suggest that McLaren has foregone the installation of a roll cage, even more carbon fibre is almost certain to feature, alongside bucket seats, six-point harnesses, track telemetry and (we're all hoping) a button-strewn new steering wheel.
Among the few things we can chalk up as absolute certainties is a power upgrade over the 600LT. Here the new model obviously diverges from the restricted GT4 racer; McLaren nomenclature rules dictate that it is a 620hp car, making it the most powerful Sports Series variant yet. Given its positioning in what is now a five-year-old life cycle, and its anticipated introduction early next year, that may very well mean that it is intended as a farewell to the 570S generation. Appropriate, then, that McLaren has chosen a previously unused designation for it.
The 'R' classification would appear to signify a previously untapped relationship between race and road car. McLaren has turned road cars into track machines before - most recently with the Senna GTR - but has typically left it to aftermarket tuners to transform its circuit-only creations back to road-legal status. The 620R's introduction seems to signal a new determination to take this process in-house; particularly if the firm is responding to customer demand for something even more extreme following the arrival of the 600LT.
With production of the coupe gradually winding up - only the Spider is still available to order - it's plausible that buyers of the Longtail might feel somewhat shortchanged by the introduction of what is virtually guaranteed to be a quicker model - hence the strictly limited status of the 620R's production run and the early push by retailers. The latter will feel like they know the names of anyone longing to extract yet more performance from what is already a terrifically fast car - and will have lined up their allocation accordingly. Lucky for some, eh? We look forward to finding out just how lucky as the model's technical specification - and final price - are revealed in the coming weeks. And for anyone who's phone hasn't been ringing off the hook, we humbly direct your attention here and here. No pre-qualification needed.