McLaren debuts its new track star 765LT without the usual Geneva fanfare
As automakers scramble to adjust plans after organizers canceled the Geneva International Motor Show this week, McLaren is already forging ahead.
The British manufacturer introduced the all-new 765LT via video feed from its company headquarters on March 3. An aggressively colored and styled twin-turbocharged sports car, the 765LT is the latest in the line of “Longtail" McLarens, beginning with the F1 GTR race car in the 1990s up to road-legal versions like the 675LT. It’s the most powerful “LT" McLaren has ever made, though not as powerful as the Senna and Speedtail in its “Ultimate Series" line.
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The Longtail, or LT, distinction is geared toward tech-oriented driving enthusiasts who can afford the ample time and dough required to buy the car and use it solely for high-speed, adrenaline-surging track days. The 765LT is the most recent example of the polarization in the luxury market between mass-produced, gargantuan SUVs and hyperfast, hyperexpensive sports cars.
It’s also a bet that relative newcomer McLaren is placing to compete with two other longtime track barons: Ferrari, with its beautiful icons, and Lamborghini, with its elite performers.
Pricing for the 765LT has yet to be announced, but expect the MSRP to crest $300,000. Considering the popularity of the million-dollar Senna, which famously sold out all of its 500 units, the new LT’s 765 units are likely to disappear just as fast.
Under the Hood
With a V-8 engine and 755 brake horsepower, the car gets to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds and 124 mph in 7.2 seconds. According to McLaren it can accelerate 15% faster than its closest predecessor, the $299,000 720S coupe. The 765LT also runs leaner and meaner than the 720S, which means it’s lower, longer, lighter, and wider. The front ride height is 5 millimeters lower, but a kit that can lift the front of the car over speed bumps and driveways is available as an option. The nose is longer by 2 inches; the rear wing stretches back an additional 9mm.
That active rear wing hints at the true track-ready nature of the 765LT—it pulls hot air out of the engine bay and can also act as an air brake, improving balance and grip around a track. Elsewhere, new springs help reduce driving volatility from behind the wheel, stiffen the body of the car, and stay balanced.
While the ride won’t be as jarring as that of the Senna—just ask Motor Trend’s Jonny Lieberman, who hilariously chronicled his exploits driving one to the point of nausea on a highway in California last year—it will feel extremely stiff. After all, the LT family is expected to feed the speed lust of the most die-hard McLaren fans, rather than most drivers who prefer weekend cruising and running daily errands. For those chores, the GT is likely more appropriate.
Inside the Beast
Carbon-fiber elements make the 765LT look like an extreme motorized insect, especially along the sharply raked front splitter, the carbon-fiber venting and fender louvers, and the “snorkel"-style scoop on the roof. The interior is as caked with carbon fiber—and as spartan—as the exterior. The car’s central tunnel is made of carbon composite material, as are the trims around the windows and steering wheel clasp. A glazed-over C-pillar uses a special lightweight polycarbonate typically used in Formula One cars.
Door stowage nets replace hinged door pockets; thin Alcantara lines the cockpit, except on horizontal floor areas, which are bare. In the rear, a double-glazed panel exposes the top of the engine, so you can literally see the top of the powertrain over your shoulder. You can also show off the engine outside the vehicle through the polycarbonate rear screen.
These extreme elements do have a functional purpose: They make it extremely lightweight. Carbon-fiber racing seats save almost 40 pounds over standard McLaren 720S sport seats. Exclusive 10-spoke lightweight forged alloy wheels, titanium wheel bolts, and bespoke Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires together save more than 48 pounds from the standard 720S. The titanium exhaust system is 40% lighter than ones made from conventional metals. The windows and windshield come in a special thin glass.
Stereo systems and air conditioning have been removed for those track hounds bent on making their car the lightest weight possible. (You can request they be added back in, at no extra charge.) All told, the 765LT weighs a bone-thin 2,709 pounds—176 pounds less than the 720S.
By the way, that pretty engine sounds very loud. All-titanium quad-exhaust pipes, which have been enlarged to maximize the audio, bellow “a high-pitched, engaging note that becomes sharper and sharper at high engine revs," McLaren says. This is not the vehicle to take on a quiet Sunday evening drive through any parts of town where you’d like to be welcomed. Deliveries begin in September.