McLaren delivers us the most powerful and fastest car in the Super Series yet, in the form of the 765LT. It is, as you would expect, utterly exhilarating from start to finish and one of the most exciting vehicles of any shape or form you could wish to drive.
In the metal
The McLaren 765LT is the third in a line of 'Longtails' from the present McLaren Automotive, inspired - of course - by the old F1 GTR Longtail of the 1990s. So as the 675LT was an evolution of its then-contemporary 650S Coupe, and the 600LT was spawned by the 570S Coupe, this new one is based on the mighty McLaren 720S.
Like any McLaren LT model, the 765LT pursues a lighter kerb weight, purer driving reward for the driver and increased speed, packaging this up in an eye-catching body and then having the whole lot restricted to a limited built run in order to preserve the hallowed, special nature of the 'LT' honorific; in the case of the 765, just 765 examples will be built and it has, naturally and befitting of McLaren's numbering policy, 765hp to match. The 720S's already striking bodywork has also been made that little bit more striking still, courtesy of an enhanced aero kit that lengthens the front splitter and rear diffuser, adds on some '765LT'-branded side skirts and which sees an active rear spoiler made at the new McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC) added to the back of the car. This is the first McLaren vehicle to wear any parts made at the MCTC and the spoiler is not the only component on the 765LT from there, as the front floor and rear bumper are also crafted there.
That, along with aero slats above the front wheels, and a quad-exit exhaust made from titanium, give the 765LT a sensational, brooding presence that only the world's true supercars and hypercars can exude. Moreover, the idea of an LT is that it will be lighter and despite the fact the 720S was built to the trimmest of specifications, thanks to processes learned by McLaren from the 675LT and co-development of the 600LT, it has managed to slice another 80kg from the 720S's frame for the 765LT. To start with, the aforementioned exhaust is 40 per cent lighter than the same system rendered in stainless steel and so trims 3.8kg from the package. The biggest saving comes courtesy of the ultra-lightweight forged alloys with bespoke-developed Pirelli Trofeo R tyres and titanium bolts (-22kg), while the deletion of the air conditioning (-10kg) and the audio system (-1.5kg) are standard spec; buyers can option both back in at no extra cost. There's 14.3kg saved through new carbon-fibre panels and meshes, 3kg is junked by the use of a lithium-ion battery, the windscreen and side windows are made of thinner glass than in the 720S and the rear panes are replaced by polycarbonate items (total reduction: 6kg), the floor carpets are removed (-2.4kg), the centre tunnel and door cards are made of carbon fibre (-2.5kg), the springs on the suspension are 1.5 kilos lighters and, finally, to get the full 80kg effect then you need to option the carbon-fibre race seats, taking another 18kg from the 765LT's mass. This leads to a dry weight of 1,229kg and a DIN mass (with liquids and driver onboard) of 1,339kg, giving the McLaren a fearsome 571.3hp-per-tonne based on the DIN figure.
This is despite the fitment of larger brake callipers (+4.2kg) and a high-flow fuel system (+0.8kg) to compensate for the additional speed the 765LT can summon up. Not only that, but the 4.0-litre V8 engine's internals are uprated (different pistons, revised three-layer head gasket to accommodate increased turbo boost) to cope with the power delivery and the interior is awash with both carbon fibre and Alcantara, giving the cabin a suitably intimidating yet wonderful ambience. The driving position is spot on and visibility out is good in all directions, save for directly behind - although even that's not bad.
Net result of all this? A car that posts some eye-watering on-paper stats: 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds, 0-200km/h in 7.0 seconds exactly, 0-300km/h in 18 seconds, 200km/h to a standstill in a mere 108 metres, 100km/h to rest in just 29.5 metres and a top speed of 330km/h. This is senior stuff, it really is; in fact, the only way you could get more senior in something from post-2010 that has a McLaren badge on its nose is to strap yourself into any of the P1, the Senna or the Speedtail. Some roster of cars to be compared to, that, isn't it?
Full disclosure: we only drove the McLaren 765LT for two sessions on track. Silverstone's International circuit, to be precise, so instead of swinging sharp left at The Loop and taking in the full track including Luffield, Woodcote, the old pits, Copse, Maggotts and Becketts, you instead emerge from a right-hander at Chapel onto the famous Hangar Straight. It is, in short, the natural environment for a 765LT and about the only place where you could safely exploit its truly ferocious pace.
Because, make no mistake, even within the speed-reducing environment of a race track - where even some of the fastest road cars in the world can feel a little underwhelming and tardy - the shocking brutality of the 765LT's performance sears itself into your brain and is an experience that will never, ever leave you. It goes from 145- to 280km/h with the sort of unrelenting linearity of speed that makes you wonder if the atmosphere on Earth has suddenly disappeared and left you travelling in a vacuum, such is the lack of resistance to increasing forward motion. You might think it is traction-limited, due to the fact it only powers its rear wheels, but that's a mistaken belief you'll only hold for a terrifying nanosecond once you've fully opened the throttle for the first time. Seriously, it feels like the 765LT is trying to take your face off as it accelerates.
Overlaying this violence is a fabulous soundtrack. McLaren's biturbo V8, which has seen service in many a model from the marque in the preceding decade, can sometimes sound a bit flat and uninspiring, but breathing through that quad-exit titanium exhaust and unfettered by the additional sound-deadening properties that would otherwise come to bear if the materials that McLaren has stripped out for the 765LT were still in place, there's a hard-edged, serrated nature to the yowl that emanates from behind your head and leaves you in little doubt that you're in something energisingly hardcore and determinedly focused, no matter what your speed is. Better still, the seven-speed SSG dual-clutch transmission is never found wanting and is rapid-fire enough to easily keep up with all the power and torque it is channelling from the engine to the wheels.
So the colossal speed is not in doubt. Where the 765LT really stuns, though, is in both its approachability and also its phenomenal levels of driver reward. We were lucky enough to have one session on road-biased Pirelli P Zero tyres and then one with the McLaren on its track-optimised Pirelli Trofeo R rubber, and it was an incredibly useful comparison. On P Zeros, it felt alive and playful, a car you can adjust in the middle of a long, constant-speed corner (like Stowe) on the throttle without fear for your mortal wellbeing. It's a car that also clearly conveys its seriousness to you, of course, so take liberties with its chassis and no doubt it'll spit you off into the weeds, but drive it properly and smoothly and it's a total delight to steer. It feels, in many ways, like an oversized, overpowered Lotus and we can pay it no higher dynamic compliment than that. Especially when it is transmitting 765hp and 800Nm to the road surface.
On the Trofeo tyres, though, it's an even more astonishing beast. You need to respect those tyres and warm them up a bit more before exploring the limits of their adhesion, but once they're up to temperature, the grip levels of the McLaren 765LT are out of this world. It moves its tail around more under braking, but this is so clearly telegraphed through the base of your spine and so easily controlled by heavenly steering that there's no drama to the attitude the LT is taking during braking (they're faultless brakes, by the way, as they're lifted from the McLaren Senna). Get it turned in, which is no effort thanks to a lightning front end on the car, and once you've balanced up the throttle you can pick your line through corners at will, exploding onto the next straight once the exit of the curve comes into sight. What a car. What a terrific, terrific car.
What you get for your money
Unfortunately, we can't mark this section. We do know that the 765LT would cost around €495,000... IF you could get one into Ireland. However, just 765 examples will be sold worldwide and all the 2020 production allocation has already sold out, while the remaining 2021 units are over-subscribed to the tune of double, which means there is more demand than supply already. Admittedly, half-a-million Euro is a fantastic amount of money for what is, when all's said and done, just a car, but it feels about right for the singular driving experience the 765LT provides.
Conceding that we don't know what the McLaren 765LT will be like on public roads for an extended distance, but also accepting that it's unlikely to be unusable or fatally flawed, we cannot deny that it's a mesmerising, intoxicating, downright stupendous performance from the 765LT on the track. This is absolutely everything a top-end, ultra-high-speed driver's machine should be: thrilling, capable, rewarding and oh-so-desirable in equal measure. Those lucky 765 people who've got their name down for one are going to be ecstatic with this thing, most assuredly. For the rest of us, the latest McLaren Longtail will remain a true, glittering dream machine.