Lotus Exige V6 S3 vs Mclaren 600LT Owner Comparison

Mclaren 600LT vs Lotus Exige V6 S3

I thought it may be of interest to post a little owner review and comparison of my experience to date with the 600LT. As many know I had my Lotus Exige V6 for over seven years before moving over to the Mclaren which I've now had for over two years. So I think I can provide a decent comparison as more Lotus owners consider a similar move. 

Analogue vs Digital

I miss the simplicity of the Lotus in some ways. Mclarens are full of electronics and sensors which are very sensitive. However the mechanical side of things are very similar to Lotus and easy to work on once you've got over the fear of working on a car which is expensive. It is a car at the end of the day and the Mclaren community often forget this and imagine it as some unicorn which only a Mclaren dealer can touch (more on this later).

I do occasionally miss the manual driving character that you had with the Lotus it is more engaging in some situations and on certain types of drives. The PDK of the Mclaren is like a shotgun in contrast, its aimed to be precise and fast as opposed to enjoying the movement of a manual throw or heel and toe action.

The PDK has two modes in the Mclaren (well three but in reality you just use two), Sport uses ignition cut during shift (fuel still pumping) which basically gives the shift a ‘kick’ which is a real shove and designed to provide a more immersive shift experience and of course more pops and crackles. Track on the other hand uses inertia push which is a slight clutch dump to use the momentum of the engine to push the car forward thereby reducing the engine rpm into the higher gear. Science aside, Sport is fun for honing around and being a bit of a kid, Track is more efficient, seamless, and wont disrupt the balance of the car when on track. Im unsure if these settings are on the 570S I believe its something they reserve for the LT models.

I suggest not to use Sport on track it disrupts the balance of the car. Even though sport is deemed to give more crackles and pops, no doubt on track and in track mode you don’t miss anything!

Handling is very similar to the Lotus. Yes the Mclaren is assisted via hydrologic’s, but it still feels very good and agile both on road and track. The assistance does help when parking and yes you can say the whole ‘man’ thing of go the gym bud but reality is that the Lotus is a bit of a faff when trying to turn the wheel at low speeds with no assistance.

Like with the Lotus, I’ve found a need to improve the geo on the Mclaren, and it has more freedom to adjust the camber vs what I had with the Lotus which resorted to me having to machine down my uprights. Although I appreciate im a special case in this department going to such measures! With the necessary geo and improved wider front tyres I retro fitted (235 vs225) the LT is pointy and feels solid. People will comment that its not as engaging, and maybe by 10-15% vs the Exige, but it makes up for it in different ways particularly lap times. You also need to check if they're comparing the 570S rather than the 600LT and after being in both on track they feel very different.

Dampening. This is hard to compare as I'd gone too far with a track setup on the Lotus, however the adaptive suspension is good both on and off track with the Mclaren. I don’t see a need at this time to upgrade the suspension whereas I did with the Lotus albeit I went a little too far and killed its practicality on B road hoons as it just became too hard.

Traction Control on the Mclaren is very very good, if its still a bit unclear ill say it again its very very good. On the Lotus I found the TC quite intrusive and I could feel the individual wheels of the car kinda fighting against one another. It frustrated me soo much on the Lotus that I would just turn the whole thing off. On the Mclaren it is much smoother and almost seamless at how it kicks in and addresses any problems. You can adjust the traction control to give you some extra slip this varies across sport and track mode in essence track mode giving you even more slip which you definitely feel on track.

The Mclaren uses an open diff as per the Lotus, folks will know I moved to a proper LSD on the Lotus with good results, so a potential upgrade for the 600LT in the future.

Even though the TC gives you slip I would like more, you can still get the back end out but would be good to slacken it up a little more for longer sideways action. Arguably no point upgrading to an LSD if I cant get confident in just running with no TC. I’ll be honest even after a lot of track time im still nervous about turning everything off the way the power delivery can hit with the turbos can be a little abrupt and im still not 100%. So more time and experience needed.

Power & Noise

No doubt the Mclaren is a rocket, the acceleration and handling just make it nuts to drive, on track GT3s and even GT3 RS don’t have a chance. That said Johnny in his GT2 RS MR did make a mockery of me at Silverstone last year but hey Johnny is a pro driver and that GT2 is just in another dimension! Best to way explain the combo of acceleration and handling of the 600LT is if a Nissan GTR and Lotus Exige had a baby and created the 600LT.

Lap time comparisons between the Exige and 600LT, the difference is pretty big at Donington around 4 seconds, at Silverstone around 8, and further room to improve over time and with more coaching.

The Lotus with its supercharger had better throttle response, in the LT you do have some turbo lag but once you're used to it you work around it - Once you hit the power band everything just goes nuts! In the future a map and downpipes should help improve the lag but more track time for driver development needed first.

The 600LT albeit not NA has a different exhaust note that is just full of crackles and flames that make you feel like a kid. Do not underestimate the characteristics of the exhaust tone based on the likes of what you read on pistonhead forums etc… its epic just different to say the Lotus 430 Cup.


I miss my big wing.

Lotus Exige V6

The LTs wing has to be low to account for the exhaust. The Exige is a great looking car, in some ways ahead of its time when launched just like the Emira, Lotus are designing some good looking cars that go beyond their pay grade.

No denying the ‘billionaire’ doors are special and you never get bored of them.

Nothing more to add, both great looking cars, but the LT just pips it … it is a supercar with supercar looks at the end of the day.


The 600LT has a much nicer interior and environment for trips. Better for 'weekend' away trips and will get your partners approval. The radio and sat nav are rubbish although I didn't have these in the Lotus so no real biggie 😆 Connect your phone via Bluetooth and you’re all good.

The wash of Alcantara everywhere in the Mclaren gives it that luxury feel whilst also keeping to the ethos of a road/track car. For me the Lotus was a bit bare to feel ‘nice’ and the bare aluminium sometimes gave me kit car vibes hence I upgraded to the full carpet setup to make it a little more homely. Agree function over form with the Lotus but personally the Mclaren finds a nice balance between the two. Again you’ll get another approval point from your partner with the Mclaren.

The seating position on the 600LT is just perfection with the P1 seats. Ignore the Senna seats yes they’re lush to look at and you can brag to your mates but the number of Mclaren owners with these seats having a retainer with their local chiropracter is a testament to them not being ideal for long trips.

As many know I had many issues getting my position right in the Lotus, to the point of modifying the steering column, and changing to Tillet seats. The alignment of the brake pedal is spot on for left foot braking so much so trying to use your right foot feels weird.

I miss 6-point harnesses. On track the P1s are very supportive but miss that 6-point 'fixed in' stability so as I did with my Lotus I’ll be installing a harness bar and belts over the course of the year.

Reliability & Costs
The Lotus was super reliable never ever had an issue. The Mclaren, although you hear horror stories, it’s been okay. Okay in terms of it not being amazing but no way near horror. Over the last two years, I've replaced the exhaust (£600 second hand) as the OEM developed a crack so I moved to a non valved option.

This was a nice little upgrade, the valveless exhaust option which is actually a USA spec exhaust removes the heavy back box which comes as standard on the UK spec cars. You get a little more noise and crackles by removing the box. At the time the car was under warranty but trying to deal with a warranty replacement was just a pain so I just handled it myself. 

On track I’ve had zero issues with noise limits.

I also had a vacuum solenoid die which cost £800 all in to be replaced by V-Engineering (Mclaren independent). Also a cracked windscreen, they crack as the glass is very thin, managed to sort under insurance so just the excess £150. 

Recently there's been a discovery that the door hinges do have some weakness and in turn can crack, even though at the time of me discovering mine had been effected and I was outside of warranty, Mclaren as a gesture have resolved the issue which is pretty good news for once!

You will hear the cars have a problem with corrosion of the paint, its something which is a sore point for many owners as its a known issue but one Mclaren seem to want to ignore. IF you discover the issue within the first five years of the new date of the car you're fine, although after this time you're on your own. This is pretty crap as Mclaren won't share paint codes and obviously this causes challenges when trying to get things resolved if you want to do it outside of the main dealers. 

I have not extended my warranty as I felt Mclaren just don't use common sense and lots of common issues now excluded so decided to 'self warranty' which gives me options to use my own common sense. For those who have a Mclaren or thinking of moving to Mclaren and also going through the conundrum of extending warranty or not I've written an extended blog here: https://alias23.com/blogs/news/should-i-renew-my-mclaren-extended-warranty

In terms of running costs you have to expect the costs are going to be a lot higher than the Lotus. The Exige was basically cheap to run on track, at least once a year I'd need to change discs and pads, no different with the LT except your looking at near 4x the cost. Tyre usage is not bad, im running AR1s and I'd say I get the same longevity as I did with the Lotus, price wise the difference isn't that bad maybe £200 extra for a set.

Mclaren Dealers
This could be an essay. Simply put the dealer network is crap, poor service, very little common sense, crazy expensive. For example £800 for an oil service vs an independent which would be £350. McLaren Guildford are decent but have to abide by Mclaren rules so lets say a spring breaks on a dampener, common sense would be replace the spring (£200), but Mclaren make you buy the whole suspension strut (£4.5K). Its just nuts and unfortunately adds to the perception of Mclarens being unreliable etc etc...

If you stick with the brain washing of Mclaren dealers then things can get painfully expensive, however there's some great independents now which do use common sense and can make things more reasonable (if such a term can be used for Mclaren). I've found RE: Performance, XP1, and V-Engineering as being excellent alternatives to the main dealer and if anything more knowledgable!

I'll continue to document my ownership so make sure you sign up to the newsletter for updates :)

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