Just look at it: The limited-edition 2020 McLaren 620R has a race car livery, a giant, manually adjustable carbon-fiber rear wing that sits 12.5 inches off of its tail, real diffusers out back, a carbon-fiber roof with an air-intake snorkel, carbon-fiber side scoops, dive planes on the front fenders, and a carbon-fiber hood with twin flow-through “nostrils” to reduce lift on the front of the car. You can even order it with race-number decals. You’re forgiven if you think this is a race car, and you aren’t entirely wrong, either.
What Is the 2020 McLaren 620R?
Put simply, McLaren has homologated for street use its race-winning GT4-class 570S GT4 factory race car. Without the typical engine-output regulations of a race series, the 620R’s twin-turbo 3.8-liter flat-plane crank V-8 pumps out 612 horsepower (620 metric hp, hence the name) and 457 lb-ft of torque. In its standard specification, the 620R’s single-piece carbon-fiber Monocell II chassis doesn’t come with air conditioning, touch-screen navigation, or an audio system. Our test car had those put back, the first two at no cost.
This test car also did away with the standard “GT4’s two-way manually adjustable coil-over motorsport dampers, which feature 32 clicks of adjustment per corner for compression and rebound rates.” Those were replaced with the Sport series cabin-adjustable adaptive dampers with the anti-driveway-scraping nose-lift feature. These additions, of course, add weight, with this McLaren 620R tipping the scales at a still tidy 3,203 pounds, or about 100 pounds more than the slightly less powerful McLaren 600LT we tested a couple of years ago. Interestingly, these two cars offer the same weight-to-power power ratios, having to move just 5.2 pounds per horsepower.
How Quick is the 2020 McLaren 620R?
In a word: very. With its standard easy-access and highly effective launch control, a rapid-fire seven-speed twin-clutch automated manual transmission—featuring what McLaren calls “inertia push” that uses the flywheel’s mechanical inertia as a torque boost between upshifts—the 2020 McLaren 620R rockets from a standstill to 30 mph in only 1.4 seconds, or the same time as the 600LT.
By 60 mph, however, the 620R’s “nostrils” and dive planes begin to add 143 pounds of aerodynamic downforce and, were the rear wing in its most aggressive position, up to 408 pounds at the rear. These racy aerodynamics begin to exact a toll on the car’s acceleration: At 60 mph, the 600LT gains a tenth of a second on the 620R and never looks back. By the end of the quarter mile, the 600LT enjoys a 0.4-second, 6-mph lead over the 2020 McLaren 620R. Still, a sub-11-second quarter mile at more than 130 mph is an impressive rarity for a rear-wheel drive sports car.
How Does the 2020 McLaren 620R Drive?
Racy. Despite the dihedral doors, there’s no graceful way of getting into or out of the car. You must sit first, then swing your legs in; reverse the order to get out. Note the red door-pull straps. Had our test car been fitted with the available six-point racing harnesses, these straps would be the only way to lower the door yourself.
The single-piece, lightweight carbon-fiber racing seats are pretty unforgiving. Our test 620R was fitted with the wider-than-normal “Touring” seats, which were problematic when circulating our figure-eight test course. These extra-wide fixed carbon-fiber seats held me firmly while cornering at more than 1 g, but the shift from side to side was pretty violent and unnerving.
From my test-day notebook: “Man, life comes at you fast in this car. It’s a bit soft on corner exit due to turbo lag, but then it explodes! What a sound the V-8 makes, and you can hear the whoosh of air-intake behind your head.”
I had supreme confidence in the carbon-ceramic brakes, and the ever-firm pedal, but when I was travelling at 85 mph across the middle of the course, I had to back up the braking point. That’s because I shot off into the rubber tire marbles on the first lap and had a moment.
Indeed, there isn’t a lot of tire here (proprietary Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R MC, 225 mm wide in front, 285 mm in the rear), but they seem to work their magic. The 2020 McLaren 620R delivers sharp turn-in, there’s very little initial understeer, and the car is generally well balanced on the skidpad. The electro-hydraulic steering is magical, with the right amount of feel and precision you rarely find anymore.
Is the 2020 McLaren 620R Worth It?
Starting at $278,300—our test car was optioned to more than $300,000—the 2020 McLaren 620R is priced on the high end of cars like this. The 2021 Lamborghini Huracán Evo RWD, the least expensive Lambo, starts at $214,866. The 991-series Porsche 911 GT3 RS, when you could still buy one new in 2019, offered a similar driving experience and performance for a starting price of $188,750.
For those who intend to track their 2020 McLaren 620R, I’d recommend it – especially those who are into setting the car’s manually adjustable rear wing and dampers for track conditions. It’s a competition-proven car, having claimed more race wins and podium finishes than any other McLaren GT race car to date. Get one while you can, as 255 of the 350 total examples are allotted for the U.S.
Yes, the paint scheme is too over the top for our taste, and the less brutal, more comfortable, MotorTrend 2016 Best Driver’s Car winner, the McLaren 570S, is the McLaren for everyday driving. Its price starts at $195,000, and you can get it in the classic McLaren papaya orange. But if you’re a performance car and racing enthusiast, the 2020 McLaren 620R is for you.
2020 McLaren 620R Highlights:
- Track-ready aerodynamics
- Competition-style looks
- Exceptional handling
- 612-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 engine
- Starting price of $278,300
|2020 McLaren 620R Coupe|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$311,080|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Mid-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||3.8L/612-hp/457-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,203 lb (41/59%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||179.4 x 76.6 x 47.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||10.9 sec @ 131.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||97 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||1.05 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||23.5 sec @ 0.87 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||15/22/18 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||225/153 kWh/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.11 lb/mile|
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