McLaren’s new 600LT hasn’t been around long but it’s earned a reputation as the carmaker’s ultimate entry-level supercar thanks to a combination of competitive pricing and stunning performance. It’s the lightest, most powerful and quickest road-legal sports series McLaren out there, outperformed only by the company’s limited edition exotics with six-figure pricetags.

The 600LT, available as a coupé or a Spider (convertible), is typical of the models that have made McLaren so successful in recent years. Although the company has been building road cars of some kind or another for many years, it is only recently that it achieved volumes that place McLaren apart from many rivals. Earlier this year, McLaren produced its 20,000TH car, a surprising figure in the rarefied sphere of supercar manufacturing. As it happens, number 20,000 was a 600LT Spider.

McLaren has also managed to develop a certain characteristic appearance for its cars and there’s no mistaking any of its models for a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. McLarens have a look of their own and are becoming instantly recognisable. The 600LT models add a large rear wing to maximise downforce at high speeds.

The 600LT uses lightweight carbon fibre bodywork that weighs 100 kg less than that of the company’s 570S, a car of similar size and design. Incidentally, LT stands for ‘Long Tail’ and ‘600’ is a reference to the car’s hefty horsepower rating. These weight reduction efforts contribute to the 600LT’s impressive performance figures.

Buyers of the 600LT can go beyond the basic specifications and opt for Clubsport or Clubsport Pro packs that feature even lighter weight plus additional track-focused features. All versions have carbon ceramic discs and ultra-light alloy wheels bearing bespoke P-Zero Pirelli tyres, along with forged aluminium double-wishbone suspension. This all adds up to a car with exceptional handling prowess and breathtaking acceleration.

The cockpit evokes a racecar ambiance with form-hugging sculptured seats that really make you feel part of the vehicle. As with all cars in this class, threading your way in through the swing-up doors takes a bit of getting used to for older owners, but once behind the suede-wrapped steering wheel, it’s a very comfortable and secure-feeling experience.

Don’t look for rows of round dials on the instrument panel of a 600LT. Instrumentation is all-digital, long the norm in competition cars and now well established in the supercar field. Interestingly, the infotainment touch screen is vertically oriented at the centre of the dash. The general layout is easy to scan and pretty much intuitive.

The 600LT is bound to be a great success for McLaren, partly due to its very competitive price. It’s possible to pay 100,000 euros more in this class and still not get as many advanced features or the same outstanding level of performance. Many people will buy the car just for its sinuous good looks and undoubted prestige, but it’s under the skin where this McLaren really shines.

ENGINE: 3.8-litre twin-turbo V-8, 600-horsepower.

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed SSG with three modes.

ACCELERATION: Zero to 100 km/h in 2.9-seconds.

TOP SPEED: 328 km/h.

I LIKED: Every imaginable supercar feature at a very reasonable price point. Lightweight carbon fibre bodywork is a big plus. McLarens have developed a very distinctive look of their own and the 600LT really stands out, even among other cars in this class.

I DIDN’T LIKE: Older drivers may find this car, along with its rivals, difficult to get in and out of. Once inside, it’s well worth the effort.

MARKET ALTERNATIVES: Ferrari 488, Lamborghini Huracan, Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Mercedes-AMG GT R.

WHO DRIVES ONE? People who have bought Ferraris and Lamborghinis in the past and would like to try something different, though not overly expensive.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY: Now available at approximately €220.000.