by Karl Furlong
One has to marvel at McLaren's obsession with performance above all else. The McLaren 765LT is another example of the engineering prowess evident in every other McLaren. The company may not make the most luxurious or head-turning supercars, but it is masterful at squeezing out every last drop of performance from them. The 765LT is a track-focused version of the 720S, boasting more of the good stuff (power) and less of the bad stuff (weight) than that car. It also borrows some parts from the extreme Senna. With its 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 tuned to deliver 755 horsepower, the 0-60 mph sprint is done in only 2.7 seconds, but straight-line speed is only one facet of a phenomenally entertaining car to drive. The weight-saving measures are extreme as even the air conditioning and sound system are deleted by default. But these are the changes that make the 765LT a formidable alternative to the Ferrari 488 Pista. The latest in a line of epic Longtail McLarens, the 765LT isn't for the faint-hearted but on the track, it all comes together perfectly.
A lighter, more powerful, and track-focused version of the 720S, the 765LT has undergone several important changes. It's both more powerful and lighter than the 720S, and comes with a new Longtail active rear wing. Even the air conditioning system and sound system are gone. As the name dictates, only 765 examples of the 765LT will be produced.
The McLaren 765LT arrives as a successor to the 600LT and a new chapter for Longtail McLarens. Based on the 720S, it adds power and subtracts weight from that car, making it an even more formidable track tool. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 now makes 755 hp, gear changes are 15% faster than in the 720S, and it weighs 176 pounds less. LT aerodynamic changes include a 'Longtail' active rear wing, a new front splitter, and new side skirts, all in carbon fiber. It also has a new titanium exhaust, thinner glass, and no standard air conditioning. It all adds up to one of the most breathtaking track-focused cars in the world
McLarens once lacked the visual punch of its Italian rivals, but the same can no longer be said when taking in the many intricate slashes and curves of the 765LT for the first time. Aerodynamics may have played a significant role in forming the car's shape, but it is a design masterpiece too. There is carbon fiber everywhere, with the LT's aerodynamic extras being a front splitter, unique front bumper, side skirts, a rear diffuser, and the 'Longtail' active rear wing. That wing not only increases downforce but also helps to draw hot air out of the engine bay. The twin-hinged dihedral doors will always be a party piece, and they have a soft-close function. At the back, the quad exhaust tailpipes are mounted high up between the LED rear lights. They form part of a new titanium exhaust system. Full LED headlights, power-folding mirrors, and a gloss black roof are all standard. The ten-spoke ultra-lightweight forged alloy wheels have a platinum finish and measure 19 inches in front and 20 inches at the back.
At 181.1 inches in length, the 765LT is only two inches longer than the 720S, so don't let that Longtail moniker fool you. Other key dimensions include a width at its widest point of 85.1 inches and a height of 45.6 inches. The wheelbase is 105.1 inches.
The curb weight of the McLaren 765LT is 2,952 pounds, which includes fluids and 90% fuel. As long as you don't option the air conditioning and sound systems, the weight saving over the 720S works out to 176 lbs.
There are 30 unique colors to choose from, and many of them are as exuberant as the car's personality. Some of the special colors include McLaren Orange, Sicilian Yellow, Luminaire (green), and Curacao Blue. The standard palette is more reserved with shades like Silver, White, and Onyx Black. Burton Blue, Lantana Purple, Vermillion Red, and Tokyo Cyan are some other distinctive choices that round out a comprehensive color palette. We love the Papaya Spark hue. McLaren says that its MSO Bespoke program makes it technically possible to specify any color you can think of - at a price, of course.
The 765LT is a viciously fast supercar. With 755 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque in a car weighing under 3,000 lbs, you know it's going to be quick. With power going to the rear wheels only, the McLaren 765LT's 0-60 time is just 2.7 seconds. 124 mph comes up in a mere seven seconds, and 186 mph in 18 seconds. With enough space to exploit the McLaren 765LT's horsepower, it will continue to a pulse-quickening top speed of 205 mph. McLaren claims 9.9 seconds for the quarter-mile sprint, although independent testing has demonstrated that the 765LT can do it in as quickly as 9.3 seconds.
Experiencing this level of power and performance is predictably thrilling. The V8 is instantly responsive, and turbo lag isn't a problem. It sounds a bit industrial, but the car is not nearly as harsh as the Senna. On a track or on public roads, the 765LT is a deeply impressive car to drive.
The 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine in the McLaren 765LT features a flat-plane crankshaft and LT-specific forged aluminum pistons, along with a three-layer head gasket as used in the Senna. The engine management system was recalibrated, there's an extra fuel pump, and the oil pump was revised. The cumulative effect of all these changes is a heady 755 hp at 7,500 rpm and 590 lb-ft at 5,500 rpm.
Paired with the engine is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. McLaren says that in-gear acceleration is 15% quicker than in the 720S. There is also a new 'limit downshift' function; now, the car no longer refuses a downshift when engine revs are too high. As soon as engine speed and road speed are appropriate, the downshift request will be executed.
This gearbox changes gears with alacrity, but it also isn't unnecessarily harsh. It's all too easy to light up the rear tires, but finding the ideal balance is what makes the car so engaging. The free-revving V8 races to its redline ferociously, and the accompanying thrust when taking off from a standstill or overtaking is something to behold.
The new McLaren 765LT ends up striking a perfect balance between the 720S and the hardcore Senna. Compared to the 720S, the 765LT has a front ride height that's lower by 5 mm and a front track that's wider by 6 mm, improving both grip and balance. Roll stiffness is increased, there are new lightweight main springs, and the new rear wing creates more downforce.
The changes add another layer of sharpness to the car's handling over and above the 720S. The 765LT is a ridiculously agile machine, lateral grip is stupendous, and the steering ripples with feedback while being ideal in its weighting. In Track mode, the rear axle loosens up and the car demands even greater concentration. But here, the 765LT is joyously playful. It's easy to provoke oversteer and smoky slides without losing control of the car. Together with the V8's power and the gearbox's rapid shifts, the 765LT is a sublime track toy. It's not as abrasive as a Senna, though, and for many the spread of this car's talents will be more appealing.
Back on normal roads and in Comfort mode, the 765LT is firm but can also deal with everyday surface changes and uneven patches of tarmac without leaving you with a broken spine.
The brakes are magnificent, with carbon-ceramic discs and calipers borrowed from the Senna. McLaren has turned to its F1 expertise and introduced integrated caliper cooling, whereby cool air is delivered to the front brakes and calipers. They feel less mushy than the brakes on the 720S, but their ability to rein in the car from high speeds is excellent.
You weren't expecting great gas mileage, were you? The McLaren 765LT will return 14/18/16 mpg city/highway/combined according to the EPA. The 19-gallon gas tank is big enough for a range of about 304 miles.
Climbing inside the 765LT leaves you in no doubt about the car's intentions. Like the exterior, every element of the McLaren 765LT's interior looks and feels carefully designed to add to the driving experience. There is no standard air conditioning or sound system in the interests of saving as much weight as possible. You sit low in carbon fiber-shelled racing seats and are surrounded by carbon fiber and Alcantara. The steering wheel is devoid of buttons to keep you focused on the important task of driving. Despite the relentless focus on performance, you can still add dual-zone climate control, and a touchscreen interface allows access to most of the car's features.
Seating just two occupants, the McLaren 765LT coupe accommodates the driver and passenger in carbon fiber racing seats which are very supportive but not exactly cushioning. However, more comfortable sports seats with power adjustability are on offer, or you can get even more extreme super-lightweight carbon fiber racing seats. But before you even get there, you have to lift the doors skyward and step over the prominent carbon fiber sill. Once seated, the driving position feels perfect, and the steering wheel is manually adjustable for reach and rake. Fortunately, there's enough space for even taller individuals, so it's not impossible to use the 765LT for more than just the occasional visit to the track.
In place of plastic, wood, and leather, McLaren has crammed as much carbon fiber and Alcanatara into the interior of the 765LT as it could. It feels racy and special. Everything is dark as standard, with black stitching and black carpeting, the only relief being a satin silver finish for some of the controls and solid aluminum interior switches.
McLaren does, however, provide quite a few options to upgrade the cabin. The Carbon Black Alcantara can be replaced by Carbon Black leather, and both options can be had with contrast stitching in colors like Blue, Carmine, McLaren Orange, Kingfisher Blue, and Situs Grey. The standard black seat belts can be replaced with orange, yellow, or red ones, and a leather or Alcantara steering wheel is available.
This is a performance machine first and foremost, so the McLaren 765LT's cargo specs are not going to blow you away. There is a small frunk in front (5.3 cubic feet) that can take a few smaller grocery bags, but not much more. At the back, another luggage area measures a slightly more generous 7.4 cubes. In the cabin, there's a shallow center storage area for your phone and two cupholders, but not much else in the way of storage. You also have a choice between a door stowage pocket with netting or a hinged door stowage pocket.
As standard, the McLaren 765LT comes with a tilt/telescoping steering column, an electrochromatic-dimming interior rearview mirror, interior LED map lights, push-button ignition, power windows, transmission paddle shifters, and a rearview camera. You can add to that feature count with optional extras like front/rear parking sensors, air conditioning (McLaren leaves this off the list of standard equipment to save weight), a 360-degree park assist system, a suspension lift system, a power steering column, and power-adjustable and heated seats. If you added all these features, we suspect McLaren wouldn't be pleased that you've acted in direct contravention of the extreme weight-saving measures that were taken when engineering this car.
The McLaren infotainment system consists of a portrait-style, eight-inch touchscreen interface with AUX connectivity, voice controls, on-board memory, 4G LTE connectivity, navigation, and two USB ports. Ahead of the driver is a foldable digital gauge cluster displaying key speed and driver information. When folded, there's a Track configuration where a narrow strip on the top of the cluster displays only the most pertinent information. The infotainment system itself is fair rather than great, but this is typical of supercars where such a system isn't often prioritized.
The most hardcore enthusiasts will choose not to equip a sound system at all to save as much weight as possible. However, four- and 12-speaker sound systems are available, the latter being a Bowers & Wilkins unit. Other options include Bluetooth telephony, the McLaren Track Telemetry system with a lap time function, iPod/iPhone integration, SiriusXM, and an AM/FM radio.
No recalls have been issued for the McLaren 765LT at the time of writing, so hopefully this means that the company has assembled a reliable car. No McLaren 765LT reliability review has been published by J.D. Power, which is little surprise given the low production numbers.
If anything goes wrong, the 765LT is covered by a three-year warranty unrestricted by miles covered. Customers will also receive three years of roadside assistance.
Like the vast majority of supercars, the McLaren 765LT has not been subjected to crashworthiness tests. However, the rigid structure and provision of essential safety features are there to protect you if the worst should happen.
As standard, the 2021 McLaren 765LT comes with dual front and side airbags, a rearview camera, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring, cruise control, and LED headlights. In a car like this, the powerful carbon-ceramic brakes can also be considered a safety feature. Optional features include front/rear parking sensors, a 360-degree park system, and a six-point harness. More advanced driver-assist technologies like blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning are not offered.
With its Senna-inspired enhancements and superb 720S foundation, the 765LT emerges as a brilliant supercar and one that steers clear of a muddled identity. The added layer of dynamism and involvement over the 720S is surprisingly tangible, yet it's not as harsh or uncompromising as the Senna. The 765LT's balance, speed, and ability to draw you into the action are phenomenal. Both novice and experienced drivers will revel in trying to find this car's limits. As a practical proposition, the 765LT has its limitations. It is also more expensive than most will ever be able to afford, and you'll feel a little battered and bruised after a long time behind the wheel. But as an engaging track toy, McLaren has hit the nail on the head.
Starting at $358,000 in the USA before any options and the destination fee, the price of the McLaren 765LT will be unattainable for most. That makes it over $50,000 more than the 720S, but the 765LT's MSRP does include several expensive options that would significantly raise the price of the 720S. For example, the standard carbon fiber pack for the exterior adds over $7,000 to the price of the 720S but is standard on the 765LT.
McLaren recognized that the base 765LT may just be too stripped-down for some, so the company has made many options available. There are various interior designs to choose from, each with its own color scheme and materials. Outside, the MSO LT Black Pack adds a gloss black finish to elements like the front splitter, door winglet, and hood air intakes. Other packs change the look in their own way, and there are various carbon fiber upgrades.
In the cabin, there are options like four- and 12-speaker sound systems, air conditioning, power-adjustable sports seats with heating, and iPod/iPhone integration. A suspension lift system is useful for navigating steeper driveways, and a 360-degree park assist system will also prevent any unnecessary scratches. Throw in the limitless color palette, and it's unlikely that any 765LT will look exactly the same.
There is only one trim to choose from, but we'd keep the 765LT as light on options as possible - the way McLaren intended it to be. That said, it's difficult to imagine driving any car without air conditioning these days, so that's the one extra we'd have. One of the wild orange hues suits the 765LT well, but other than that, the car is already perfect without being laden with extras.
At over $50,000 more than the 720S, is the more track-focused 765LT worth the money? If you only drove the 720S, the answer to that question is perhaps not. The 720S is already a massively accomplished car, with pin-sharp handling and an incredible turn of pace. But driven back to back, the McLaren 765LT's performance advantages begin to surface. It's only a tenth of a second quicker to 60, but by 124 mph, the 765LT is almost a second faster. The 765LT feels more urgent, more focused, and throttle response is sharper. The extra carbon bits and rear wing not only bring with them a more dramatic appearance, but they improve aerodynamics too. While the 720S is a little better for everyday use, the 765LT elevates McLaren's hypercar to an even higher level. It's the one we'd like to park in the garage.
As part of McLaren's Ultimate Series, the Senna is one of the most extreme cars the company has ever produced. It's more powerful, faster, more exclusive, and far more expensive than the 765LT. One senses that the only reason for the Senna to be road-legal is so that it's more convenient to drive it to the track, where it is in its element. Whereas the 765LT still shields you from some noise and harshness, the Senna doesn't care - it strips out everything it doesn't need and is 68 pounds lighter than the already lithe 765LT. The active aerodynamics of the Senna produce over 1,700 lbs of downforce at 155 mph. The 765LT borrows a few bits from the Senna, but the latter is a true hypercar in the way it envelopes you in the action at every turn. Considering the price difference - the Senna is roughly three times as expensive - the 765LT makes more sense, if one could apply logic to either of these stunning machines.
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