2021 McLaren 765LT review: Above and beyond


This was a good day.


Drew Phillips

The McLaren 765LT exists because, somewhere along the way, someone drove a standard 720S and said, “Nah, we can do better.” On the one hand, I respect that dedication to perfection. On the other hand, dude’s insane. Nevertheless, meet the 765LT: A sharper, more powerful version of one of the sharpest, most powerful supercars ever built.

Like

  • Insane power, insane acceleration, insane braking
  • Unflappable levels of grip from Trofeo R tires
  • Longtail body looks super cool

Don’t Like

  • Prohibitively expensive
  • Lousy infotainment tech

The 765LT is the latest in McLaren’s series of Longtail models. In addition to being better performers than the cars on which they’re based, the LT versions look a little sweeter, too, largely thanks to the huge, active rear wing, connected to the chassis by two big control posts. Compared to a 720S, the 765LT has a longer rear diffuser, and the front bumper and splitter are stretched, as well. There’s also the awesome roof scoop that feeds air into the engine, which makes all sorts of delightful wooshing and sucking noises that’ll make you giggle. Do note, though, that little snorkel costs an absurd $36,430. Would you rather have a sweet scoop or a fully loaded Hyundai Veloster N?

More lightweight carbon fiber is used throughout the 765LT, meaning it’s 176 pounds lighter than a 720S. The titanium exhaust also accounts for a small reduction in weight, though it massively ups the 765’s cool factor. Four huge outlets are positioned in the middle of the rear mesh panel, and if you drive the car hard enough, just like on the 600LT, these pipes will shoot flames. (Flames!)

Some more weight comes out of the interior, where the 765LT has exposed carbon fiber on the floor and center tunnel, and optional carbon fiber racing seats borrowed from the McLaren Senna. You can even order a 765LT without an audio system or air conditioning, which saves about 25 pounds. Of course, the 765LT costs the same with or without these amenities, so unless you really think 25 pounds will make or break your supercar experience, I say leave ’em in. All it takes is one hot track day to make you wish you had AC.

Then again, it’s not like McLaren’s onboard audio and infotainment systems are anything to write home about. The 765LT uses the same multimedia software as the 720S, housed on an 8-inch, vertically oriented touchscreen on the center stack. The menu structure is kind of complicated and the system is often super laggy. The stereo is just OK, and you have to crank it to hear your tunes over the engine. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t available, either, FYI.


Jonathan Harper

But let’s be honest, no one buying this car actually gives a hoot about the infotainment system; the 765LT is all about raw performance. McLaren’s 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8 engine is massaged to produce 754 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, increases of 44 hp and 22 lb-ft over the 720S. With a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission slapping through the gears, the 765LT can accelerate to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds. More impressively, this car will accelerate from 0 to 124 mph in just 7.0 seconds, which is crazy.

The 765LT’s adaptive suspension has new springs and dampers that are stiffer and lighter than those on the 720S, and the front track is ever so slightly wider for better grip. Speaking of grip, the 765LT rolls on Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R tires created specifically for this car, wrapped around lightweight, 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels. The brakes are also borrowed from the rolling-superlative Senna, and a new brake booster offers better pedal feel and modulation. Remember that impressive 0-to-124-mph time? The 765LT will come to a halt from that speed in just 354 feet, the big wing flipping up into air brake duty to help with stability. Stomping on the brakes is equally as impressive as mashing the throttle, just in the opposite direction.

The 720S’ flip-down digital gauge cluster carries over, as does the grippy, button-free steering wheel.


Drew Phillips

Really, the 765LT offers a level of performance you’ll never, ever fully experience on a public road. The canyon roads in southern California are no match for this car. I can take any turn at any speed and know the 765LT is totally capable of more. This is one of the most sensational supercars I’ve ever tested — the sound, the grip and the sheer intensity of the acceleration are all addicting. The steering is brilliantly weighted and perfectly communicative, offering a direct line of feedback to those sticky front tires.

Without driving the 765LT back to back with a 720S, I can’t say I notice a tremendous difference. The suspension is just as impressive as any other McLaren, keeping the car flat and composed without rattling your teeth out over broken stretches of pavement. The big paddle shifters are a joy to use, even if they are mounted to the steering wheel instead of the column (where they belong), and the whole experience is just amazing. I’m sure my usual canyon route takes less time to run in the 765LT than it does in the 720S, but both cars are equally thrilling.

If you’re really curious to know how the 765LT handles track duty, check out this video of my colleague Henry Catchpole putting the McLaren through its paces on a race circuit. If there’s any place where the 765’s upgrades over the 720 are apparent, it’s on a track.

Night moves.


Jonathan Harper

Is the 765LT perfect? Nah. When you aren’t digging into the throttle, the transmission is way too eager to upshift, and it likes to hang out at 1,100 rpm in seventh gear in the city, which causes the engine to sputter and make you think it’s going to stall all the time. This car also makes an alarming amount of electronic noises when it’s just idling or maneuvering at slow speeds, and selecting Reverse and Drive often takes an extra tap of the toggle on the center console before the car actually responds to your command.

The 765LT is also hideously expensive, starting at $358,000 in the US, or nearly $60,000 more than a standard 720S. And that’s only the beginning; there are a vast amount of options, both from the standard McLaren catalog as well as its Special Operations (MSO) list. The car pictured here? $428,150. And that’s lightly optioned.

None of that matters, though, since only 765 of these cars will be available globally, and McLaren wouldn’t go through the time and effort to engineer an even more extreme version of an already extreme car if it didn’t think it could sell every single one. The 765LT is an incredible car with a nearly unmatched level of capability. It’s the 720S and then some, and that’s the kind of insanity I can get behind.



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