McLaren 765LT Review 2021 | Top Gear
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Car Review

McLaren 765LT

£ N/A
810
Published: 28 Sep 2020
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McLaren's third LT is its most ferocious yet. Take your brave pills and strap in

Good stuff

Ferocious speed, intense driving experience, looks sensational

Bad stuff

Not as biddable and flattering as previous McLaren LTs

Overview

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.

According to most measures, the carbon-tubbed 1,419kg 720S is already the lightest car in its class. Taking 80kg out of it 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. Replacing those would save weight, but it took a few goes to get right so your phone wouldn’t fall out when the doors were raised. End result: elasticated nets that save 800g. 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.

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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 high 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 1000 centigrade.

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. More importantly McLaren claims to have improved the torque response – vital given Ferrari’s ability in that area.

With a power to weight ratio of 564bhp/tonne, plus a shorter final drive ratio 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 2.8secs, 124mph in 7.0secs and do the standing quarter mile in 9.9secs. To 186mph, its time of 18.0secs puts it 3.4secs ahead of the 720S. Maximum speed is 205mph.

Overall it’s 57mm longer than the 720S, the lion’s share (48mm) of that at the back. But that’s 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 forthcoming GT R Black Series – double a standard GT R. 765 are being built between now and early next year, and all of this year’s allocation are already spoken for.

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No matter how good it is, the 765LT will not, cannot, have the impact of the original 675LT. At the time that was the step change for McLaren, the car – over and above the P1 – that really put it on the map for driver enjoyment. If the 765 can live up to that, it’ll have done its job.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

McLaren's third LT is its most ferocious yet. Take your brave pills and strap in

That the 765LT is hugely, shockingly fast and involving will come as no surprise. What might come as more of a surprise is that it mistakes aggression for driver engagement. This is obviously a fine line to tread, but it’s a line the 675LT, and to a lesser extent the 600LT, trod confidently. Our suspicion is that the 765LT will prove mighty on a fast, open circuit but that’s kind of by the by, because the magical thing about the 675LT is that it was awesome to drive everywhere.

As yet, we haven’t driven the 765LT on road, but on track it didn’t flow as well as we hoped. It’s terrifically fast, looks fantastic, its focus on lightweighting is peerless, it felt connected and fed back information very successfully, but was slightly jagged in its manners, occasionally seemed to be fighting against its driver rather than flattering them. It’s a harder charger than anything else in its segment, and some may like that, enjoy the challenge of keeping up with it, managing the occasional snatch and grab.

It has to be said that expectations were dizzyingly high for the 765LT, and by most measures it doesn't fall far short of the standards set not only by previous LTs, but also the fabulous 720S itself. But for us an LT is more than just a track weapon, it needs to have a sense of flow as well as precision.

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