Ferocious speed, intense driving experience, looks sensational
Not as biddable and flattering as previous McLaren LTs. Blame the tyres
What is it?
You know the drill. LT is to McLaren what RS is to Porsche. Lighten, sharpen, intensify. It’s a formula McLaren has got down pat now. There have been two LT models before, the 675LT in 2015 and the 600LT in 2018 and both were utterly tremendous, not only great on track, but arguably just as rewarding on the road. There’s little variation from the basic template this time round. The 765LT has another 45bhp over the 720S it’s based on and is 80kg lighter.
How much weight are we talking?
The carbon-tubbed supercar weighs in at 1,339kg. Or you can have it as a 1,388kg Spider with a roof that tucks itself away behind the seats. Anyway, removing 80kg from a 720S is not the work of a moment. Rather than bore you with every weight loss detail, here are a couple of highlights: the 720S has stowage compartments in the upward opening doors, and they’re designed so your phone doesn’t fall out when the doors are raised. Now they’re elasticated nets. 800g saved. One per cent of the total.
Thinner glass for the windscreen accounts for 1.7kg, polycarbonate glass round the back a further 4.3kg. The big ticket items are the seats, wheels, open aluminium mesh on the back deck and titanium exhaust. You can go lower than 1,339kg by visiting MSO – McLaren Special Operations – who, for £30,000 will replace the standard outer door skin and rear bumper with carbon panels, saving 7kg. Only you will know because the panels are painted. Maybe do that to offset speccing the no-cost air con.
What about downforce to keep it on the deck?
Downforce is increased by 25 per cent over the 720S, although McLaren won’t talk actual numbers because this, unlike the Senna, is not a downforce car. Still, the rear wing now has 50 per cent more surface area and sits 60mm higher on the back deck. Up front the ride height has been dropped 5mm, the track width increased 6mm and all sorts of suspension fiddling and fettling has occurred. There’s now a helper spring in addition to the main spring, a stiffer torsion bar, a quicker steering rack and new suspension algorithms. The brake calipers are from the Senna, and if you spend an extra £15,000 you can have its big brother’s discs as well. Those, 60 per cent stronger than conventional carbon ceramics and with four times the thermal conductivity, take seven months to create, including three months baking in an oven at over 1,000 centigrade.
An extra 45bhp doesn’t sound that much.
Agreed, and the engine is probably the least remarkable thing about the 765LT. The piston and gasket design has been changed and the fuel and oil systems uprated to help deliver a total of 755bhp (765PS). The torque peak of 590lb ft at 5,500rpm is only up 22lb ft. McLaren claims to have improved the torque response.
Bet it’s rapid, though…
Not a bet we’re taking. With a power to weight ratio of 564bhp/tonne, plus a shorter final drive to stack the gears more closely, the 765LT is a hell of a sprinter. On the standard Trofeo R tyres it’ll hit 62mph in 2.8 seconds, 124mph in 7.0s and do the standing quarter mile in 9.9s. To 186mph, its time of 18.0s puts it 3.4s ahead of the 720S. Maximum speed is 205mph.
LT stands for Long Tail right? Is it actually longer?
Yes it is – if only by 57mm over the 720S. The lion’s share (48mm) of that is at the back and is mainly a symbolic nod. The letters, not the length, tell the story here. One of attention to detail and claims of maximum driver engagement. In the flesh it’s a stunning looking thing, low, aggressive and angry, and at £280,000 its £70,000 markup over the 720 looks reasonable value compared to the £335,000 Merc is charging for the GT R Black Series – double a standard GT R. 765 are being built, plus another 765 Spider roadsters. Those start at £310,500.
Give us a snapshot of how it drives.
It pins your eyes wide open. The combination of outrageous speed and constant information through the steering, chassis and seat of your pants not only means the 765LT feels alive, but that the sensory bombardment can get close to overload.
Find a flow – not as easy here as in the 675LT – and it’s super-rewarding, bubbling with feedback and excitement, but there’s an edge to the 765LT that you need to be wary of. Those turbos ramp up very fast indeed and the Trofeo tyres need to be hot to work well. We found the SottoZero winter tyres actually gave the car less snatchy road manners.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The 765LT doesn’t have the dexterity of the 675LT. At the time that was the step change for McLaren, the car – over and above the P1 – that really put Woking on the map for driver enjoyment. But the 765LT isn’t that far off.
Its focus on pure driving comes at the expense of the more obvious and accessible charms of rivals from the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. But for steering feel, chassis balance and sheer communication, this has everything else licked, up to and including the latest 296 GTB. It’s a fortune of course, and with more road noise and interior racket, plus a very firm low-speed ride, lacks the habitability that makes the 720S such a well-rounded car. This is a notch more visceral and aggressive. Don’t take liberties with it, but you don’t need to – it’s enthralling at any speed, in any conditions.