Serendipity is an interesting thing. McLaren was due to unveil the latest in its line of Longtail (LT) vehicles at the Geneva Motor Show, but the threat of coronavirus derailed those plans.
The British carmaker decided to keep calm and carry on, relocating the launch of the new 765LT to McLaren Cars HQ in Woking, England.
The last-minute location shuffle to McLaren’s historical home in the south of England was fitting. Not only did the latest LT look comfortable in its natural habitat, but its story also began with the F1 GT race car, which was made in the same facility in the 1990s.
The latest 765LT has substantially evolved from the thee-year-old 720S. It looks more aggressive and purposeful. Its stance is lower, it has a bigger front splitter, a larger, elongated Longtail active rear wing and four large, loud exhausts.
That nose and reptilian eyes are so evocative of speed and cold-blooded aggression, it’s almost intimidating. The black teardrop canopy is modelled off the perfect falling drop of water — the most aerodynamic shape possible.
The 765LT is not only powerful than the 720S, it’s lighter, too. How did McLaren’s engineers achieve this?
First, the almost hypercar levels of performance. The 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 delivers 563kW and an earth-moving 800Nm – 33kW and 30Nm more than the 720. It even shares bits with the multi-million dollar Senna, including engine components and its braking system.
As a result, the LT manages 0-100km/h in a blistering 2.8 seconds and 0-200km/h in 7.2 seconds.
Gearing has been optimised for throttle response, giving the LT a claimed 15 per cent quicker in-gear acceleration than the 720S and the fastest lap times of any McLaren Super Series model to date.
McLaren has developed a trademark Active Dynamics Panel, too, where gearbox and suspension settings can be adjusted through Comfort, Sport and Track modes using the Handling and Powertrain settings.
Clearly, the LT is more track-focused and as the name suggests, that longer tail with its active wing element provides more downforce and better aerodynamics for track work.
This is a car that aimed at people who either race on the weekends or who regularly use their car at track days, but its designers say it's equally at home on a winding mountain road - and it won't scare the life out of you.
The 765LT weighs just 1339kg, too, which is a full 80kg lighter than the 720S. How on earth did McLaren’s engineers shed the weight? Well, there are the carbon fibre body components, like the front and rear bumpers, side skirts and the upper section of the dihedral doors; the extensive use of titanium in the exhaust system; lighweight alloy wheels and titanium wheelnuts and even thinner glass.
In fact, some of the glass panels have been entirely replaced with polycarbonate. Small luxuries, like air-conditioning, an audio system and even carpet have been chucked to minimise weight, but are available on request. Who knew an audio system weighed a hefty 1.5kg?!
These seats saved 17kg alone!
Seventeen exterior paint colours are offered, including two shades unique to the LT; Nardo Orange and Smoked White.
Despite its lean, mean look, the interior feels refined. The carbon-fibre bucket seats and centre tunnel look absolutely race-car, too. And how’s this for a ‘look at moi’ moment… owners can opt to have a double-glazed panel showcasing the mid-mounted engine. Yep, that’s right, you can turn around and perve at your own V8 at the lights.
According to McLaren, the 765LT is the “most accomplished and exhilarating LT model ever from McLaren Automotive”. If you’re tempted, don’t leave it to serendipity. In keeping of the LT tease of exclusivity, only 765 individually numbered cars are available globally, with a handful sure to make it down under.
As for price, we'll have to wait and see; locally, McLaren is still firming up the price and specification of the 765LT for Australian buyers. Given where the car will sit in the company's Super Sport line-up, though, expect the car to encroach upon the $700,000 mark. Lightness doesn't come cheap, after all.