Friday 30th October 2020
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First drive: McLaren 765LT. Image by McLaren.

First drive: McLaren 765LT
The latest Longtail is another absolute blinder from McLaren.

 



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McLaren 765LT

5 5 5 5 5

The third car in the exalted lineage of the McLaren Automotive Longtail series, this is the sensational new 765LT: the most powerful, the fastest and the most intense Super Series Macca yet to see the light of day. We've had a brief taster of it around Silverstone's International Circuit and, honestly, even that high-speed track felt like it wasn't quite quick enough or spacious enough for this outrageously rapid machine...

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: McLaren 765LT
Pricing: 720S from 215,055, 765LT from 280,000
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, seven-speed SSG dual-clutch automatic
Body style: two-door supercar
CO2 emissions: 280g/km (VED Band Over 255: 2,175 first 12 months, then 475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 12.3mpg
Top speed: 205mph
0-62mph: 2.8 seconds
Power: 765hp at 7,500rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 5,500rpm
Boot space: front 150 litres, rear 210 litres, total 360 litres

What's this?

It's a McLaren 765LT and while we know that the Woking marque's alphanumeric naming policy can start to look a bit... well, samey after a while, this is not a mere typographical error on our part and in fact a Retro Drive of the much-vaunted 675LT of 2015. No, this is an all-new, third instalment in the heralded Longtail (LT) series of McLaren Automotive. Now, those of you possessed of a certain knowledge level regarding your cars will already be counting up and working out that if the aforementioned 675LT was a development of the 650S Coupe, and the tremendous 600LT of 2018 was a laser-focused version of the 570S, then surely that makes the 765LT the fourth Longtail in the line? After the one which started it all, of course, the McLaren F1 GTR Longtail of the late 1990s?

Well, not strictly. You see, the F1 was from the McLaren Cars era, whereas the McLaren Automotive epoch began in 2010 and continues to this day. So that's why we're calling this the third LT; but maybe three, as De La Soul once sang, is the magic number. Because this is the most powerful LT yet. It's the most powerful Super Series car yet, actually, so about the only way you'll ever get 'more' from any Macca is to strap yourself into one of its bonkers Ultimate Series cars - like a P1, a Senna or the sophisticated Speedtail, perhaps. Or maybe you've already got your name down for an Elva at the princely price of 1.425 mill, who knows?

You might want to cancel that order for your 815hp, windscreen-less hyper-roadster, though, because it is hard to know how it could be any more thrilling or involving than a 765LT. To develop this singularly phenomenal car, McLaren uses no less a basis than the mighty 720S; itself no slouch, given that it has 720hp and weighs a mere 1,419kg DIN, neatly enough achieving its light weight from learnings McLaren took from the process of developing the first two LTs (yes, yes, the 600LT came out a year after the 720S but Woking was already working on the former by that stage). Like any LT, the 765 has five basic 'pillars' that make up its DNA, these being: increased driver involvement; reduced vehicle weight; track-focused dynamics; fully optimised aero; and more power than the car it is based on. Mix in a dollop of limited-build desirability and, voila, you have the 765LT.

It ticks off all those pre-requisites above in devastating fashion, although we'll leave expounding upon the increased driver involvement and the track-focused dynamics attributes for the 'How does it drive?' section of this review. For the fully optimised aerodynamics, look to the jutting front splitter, the larger rear diffuser, those side skirts, that active rear spoiler (built at the McLaren Composites Technology Centre, or MCTC, in Sheffield; it is one of three main carbon parts on the 765LT which are the first to come from the new facility in the Steel City and then be fitted to a McLaren production car), and the vents slashed into the 765's front wings above the wheels. All of these items help the LT to flow air more efficiently about its dramatic shape, primarily, although they also manage to turn the stunning 720S into this fearsome-looking contrivance. Then there's the power, which is raised to 765hp (+45hp on the 720S, hence the nameplate) along with a 30Nm hike in torque to a maximum 800Nm - these numbers achieved by increasing the boost pressure on the two turbos attached to the 4.0-litre M840T V8 that is mid-mounted in the 765LT. This has necessitated the fitment of uprated forged pistons and a triple-layered head gasket taken from the Senna, in order to cope with the strenuous demands placed upon the engine. The V8's exertions are, as ever on a McLaren, channelled to the rear wheels alone through a seven-speed SSG dual-clutch gearbox.

There's also a high-flow fuel system which adds 0.8kg to the kerb weight, with another 4.2kg of mass coming courtesy of another set of components taken from the Senna, namely its massive carbon-ceramic brakes and attendant callipers. But, despite these additional five kilos outlined here, overall the 765LT is, if you tick one specific option, 80kg lighter than the 720S. At 1,339kg with fluids, you're looking at a ridiculous 571hp-per-tonne and McLaren is keen to point out the car's dry weight too, which is a supermini-esque 1,229kg.

So how did the company achieve this diet on a car which was pretty skeletal already? Rigorous attention to detail, that's how. The 765LT's ultra-lightweight forged alloys with titanium bolts and Pirelli Trofeo R tyres save 22kg. Various carbon-fibre panels and meshes strip out another 14.3kg, while the standard deletion of the air-conditioning (-10kg) and audio (-1.5kg) systems speaks of the hardcore focus of the 765LT; mind, both of these can be fitted back in at no extra cost. A full titanium exhaust system (-3.8kg) is 40 per cent lighter than the same pipes made out of stainless steel and it culminates in the signature quad exits of the special McLaren's rear. Lighter suspension springs (-1.5kg) in the LT's development of the 720S' linked-hydraulic Proactive Chassis Control II (PCC II) set-up provide the body control and there's a lithium-ion battery (-3kg) that has nothing to do with any EV pretensions. Inside, carbon fibre for the centre tunnel and the door cards is responsible for another 2.5kg being junked and the removal of the floor carpeting takes out another 2.4kg; it's also in here where you need to tick an option box for another sizeable weight saving (and to get to the hallowed 80kg reduction), as the cost-extra carbon-fibre race seats are 18kg lighter than the standard chairs. Finally, the glasshouse: the front and side windows are still actually made of that stuff, albeit thinner than the glass in the 720S, while the rear screen and any 'windows' aft of the doors is now made of polycarbonate. Net saving here is 6kg and that's taken from items which are mounted high up, of course. Goody.

The price for all of the above is 280,000, a 64,945 premium on the base price of a 720S. However, you get all the engineering upgrades listed above, as well as exclusivity: like its peak horsepower output which justifies the badging in one respect, only 765 examples of the 765LT will be built worldwide. Apparently, 2020's build run has already been accounted for and 2021's remaining models are doubly over-subscribed - so there's precious little chance of you buying a 765LT if you haven't been assigned one already, as demand significantly outstrips supply. Even if you have the considerable pile of readies to afford this scintillating McLaren, you've probably missed the boat as it is.

How does it drive?

Before we get onto the actual sensations of driving the 765LT, let's look at the numbers... because they're frankly preposterous. We have to call the McLaren a supercar because it is a derivative based upon a supercar and it also lacks for any sort of electrification or four-figure power outputs. But in terms of the sheer, brazen speed of the thing, it's every inch the hypercar. The McLaren 765LT, despite 'only' having two driven wheels which limits off-the-line traction, runs 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds. It will tick off 0-124mph in seven seconds flat (yes, seven) and if you want to go to 300km/h (or 186mph, if you will), you can get there from rest in a trifling 18 seconds precisely. It'll run a 9.9-second standing quarter-mile. It does 205mph flat out (which, if anything, looks a tad conservative). Its mammoth brakes and trim form mean it'll stop from 124mph in 108 metres and from half that velocity in a mere 29.5m. All utterly, utterly astonishing stats.

But as nothing to actually experiencing a fully lit 765LT going about its business. As we said at the top of the piece, we only drove the McLaren in its natural environment (on a race track) and so we can't talk about low-speed ride quality (it's pretty damned comfortable on a track, mind, for something so intense), rolling refinement or how placid it will feel when it's stuck in traffic on the M23. Yet what we can say, without a doubt, is that even on a circuit - where fast road cars often lose the sensation of intense acceleration due to the wide open spaces afforded by a place like Silverstone - the 765LT is easily amongst the fastest things we've ever driven. Out of the tight, third-gear right-hander at Chapel and onto the famous Hangar Straight, the 765LT blasted from about 70mph to 174mph by the braking zone for Stowe as if the laws of physics were only advisory and not mandatory. It is absurd how fast it is. And don't worry - that titanium exhaust neatly sidesteps the acoustic dullness that can afflict some other iterations of this McLaren V8 biturbo engine, so that the metallic, angry yowl of the 765LT leaves you in no doubt just how insanely quickly you're ripping through the atmosphere. Smashing SSG 'box, too, because it's whip-crack smart and operated by some beautifully tactile carbon shift paddles on the wheel itself.

Blistering, brain-frying speed is not even the 765LT's party piece, though, because it has a chassis of otherworldly talent. Typically bizarre British autumnal weather meant we had our first session on a moderately damp (but drying) track in low double-digit temperatures with Pirelli P Zero tyres fitted to the McLaren. And the way it danced and slithered through corners, informing its driver with crystal clarity about its every move and intention, was just heavenly. So when, later in the day, the McLaren bods felt confident enough to put us on the Pirelli Trofeo R rubber, as well as turning the car up into its focused Track setting (and, latterly, the traction control to Dynamic), there was the potential for a very embarrassing, very costly accident to happen. After all, this is a mid-engined flyweight on semi-treaded rubber we're talking about...

But the true magic of the 765LT is that it is deeply rewarding and yet hugely approachable in equal measure. It never feels terrifying or spiky, although the rear end moves around quite a lot under braking; allowing you, if you have the mesmeric skill (NB: not us, guv) behind the wheel, to rotate the car into bends with staggering elegance with a trace of trail-braking. However, it's the way you can minutely adjust your line, even in high-speed, high-commitment raking bends with the grippy Pirellis fully loaded up, that elevates this car from the levels of dynamic genius to almost that of a deity. It is a seriously, seriously beguiling machine and 765 incredibly lucky sods indeed are getting something quite outstandingly remarkable here. We sincerely hope they use their 765LTs and don't just shove them into a garage to appreciate in value, because a chassis like this should be enjoyed for every minute of every day that all the petrol in the world can last. Glorious.

Verdict

Honestly, the last McLaren this correspondent drove was something of a disappointment, an engineering target aimed at but missed by a fair margin. This 765LT, though, is the polar opposite: managing to meet and then drastically exceed the already feverish pre-drive expectations and turn in a god-like performance. Sure, we drove it in exactly the place it will only be able to shine its very brightest - for instance, can you access its undoubted dynamic talents at 50mph on a damp and drizzly B4022 with the same amount of joy as you can barrelling into Abbey at 100mph and trying to hold your nerve as the near-300,000 car slides towards the outside of the track? - but when the McLaren 765LT does display its full repertoire of dynamic talents, it shines with all the coruscating brightness of a massive supernova. This is a thunderously, astoundingly, magnificently talented machine of a like rarely seen in the automotive world.

5 5 5 5 5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 29 Sep 2020









  www.mclaren.com    - McLaren road tests
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2020 McLaren 765LT Silverstone UK drive. Image by McLaren.2020 McLaren 765LT Silverstone UK drive. Image by McLaren.2020 McLaren 765LT Silverstone UK drive. Image by McLaren.2020 McLaren 765LT Silverstone UK drive. Image by McLaren.2020 McLaren 765LT Silverstone UK drive. Image by McLaren.

2020 McLaren 765LT Silverstone UK drive. Image by McLaren.2020 McLaren 765LT Silverstone UK drive. Image by McLaren.2020 McLaren 765LT Silverstone UK drive. Image by McLaren.2020 McLaren 765LT Silverstone UK drive. Image by McLaren.2020 McLaren 765LT Silverstone UK drive. Image by McLaren.








 

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