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McLaren 765LT coupe blasts into view

Ballistic McLaren 765LT approaches performance of ultra-hardcore Senna, for $1m less

4 Mar 2020

MCLAREN has topped its Super Series range with the new 765LT coupe, a car that nudges the performance envelope occupied by its ultra-exclusive Ultimate Series flagships.


As per the road-going ‘longtail’ formula established by its Super Series 675LT predecessor of 2015 and followed by the Sports Series 600LT of 2018 – both in homage to the F1 GTR racer that commenced duty during the 1990s – the 765LT is a lighter, more powerful and more aerodynamic version of the 720S supercar on which it is based.


Its tweaked 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 develops 563kW at 7500rpm and 800Nm at 5500rpm, matching the hardcore track-focused Senna on torque but 25kW down on peak power compared with the $1.7 million Ultimate Series model.


With a dry weight of 1229kg – provided the right combination of lightweight option boxes are ticked – the 765LT 80kg lighter than a 720S and just 31kg heavier than the Senna, enabling it to equal the latter’s 2.8-second sprint to 100km/h.


Completing the run to 200km/h in 7.2s, the 765LT is four tenths behind the Senna with its 330km/h top speed only 10km/h shy of the Ultimate Series model.


McLaren says the 765LT is “more than 50kg below its closest competitor”, which can only be the 1280kg Ferrari 488 Pista which also happens to be 33kW down on power and develops 30Nm less torque.


That said, with the latest Ferrari F8 Tributo sharing the Pista’s engine outputs, watch this space for return fire from Maranello.


Global pricing for the new longtail are yet to be disclosed, but the British supercar specialist is taking expressions of interest now with initial customer deliveries expected in the fourth quarter of this year.


For reference, the 675LT was $657,000 driveaway before options, a cool $215,500 higher than the 650S, guaranteeing the 765LT to command a similarly hefty premium over the $489,900 starting sticker of a 720S.


As such, the 765LT is likely to cost around $1m less than a Senna, while approaching its headline performance figures.


McLaren has upped production of the latest longtail significantly, to 765 examples for global consumption compared with just 500 675LT coupes, of which 15 were allocated to Australia.


The brand then effectively doubled the number of 675LTs in circulation by building as many drop-top Spider versions as it did coupes, so the precedent has been set that a run of 765LT Spiders will follow in corresponding quantities to the coupe.


Both 675LT coupe and Spider sold out almost immediately, as did all 499 Sennas, suggesting McLaren has sufficient demand to justify an apparent dilution of exclusivity when it comes to the 765LT.


Coupe and Spider versions of the 600LT had no hard production cap, but were limited to a 12-month production run.


Bespoke bodywork that is 48mm longer in the nose compared with a 720S seems at odds with the 765’s longtail designation, although it is also a modest 9mm longer at the rear.


Overall, there is less bodywork draped over the carbon-fibre monocoque underpinnings than the 720S, with bigger vents sucking hot air from the engine compartment and reducing air pressure in the front and rear wheel arches – all of which contribute to weight reduction.


More direct weight-saving measures applied to the 765LT include its titanium exhaust, a transmission with pinion and crown wheel final drive a made from Formula 1-derived nickel chrome alloy, thinner glass in the windscreen and side windows and race-style polycarbonate glazing to the rear.


The 765LT is also McLaren’s first road-going model to incorporate carbon-fibre ingredients from the company’s new Composites Technology Centre in Yorkshire, including the front floor and active rear wing.


Other 765LT-exclusive carbon-fibre bits include the number plate holder, front splitter, both bumpers, side skirts and rear diffuser.


The car’s aluminium bonnet, fenders and doors can also be switched for carbon-fibre versions as an option.


Race-style seats with carbon-fibre shells save 9.0kg each over those used in the 720S and flank a lightweight carbon composite centre console with panels just 0.8mm thick, saving 1.4kg.


Carbon-fibre is also used on switchgear and touchscreen surrounds as well as the steering wheels. The Senna’s even lighter seats can be fitted as an option.


Saving another 3.0kg is a lithium-ion engine starter battery and extensive use of Alcantara upholstery further reduces mass, as does the absence of floor carpet, manual steering wheel adjustment and the use of nets instead of solid door pockets.


Air-conditioning and audio systems are also omitted (the latter saving 1.5kg) as standard but the only cost of reinstating them is additional weight.


The 10-spoke forged alloy wheels with titanium bolts and special Pirelli P Zero Trofeo tyres save 22kg of unsprung mass compared with the equivalent hardware on a 720S.


Making the most of dynamic advantages yielded by lower weight is a tweaked suspension setup that itself saves another 1.5kg in unsprung mass by replacing dual-rate springs with a combination of lightweight main springs and ‘helper’ springs.


The LT’s front ride height is 5mm lower than a 720S and the front track 6mm wider, while roll stiffness is increased.


Downforce is also claimed to be 25 per cent higher than that generated by a 720S, while the hydraulically actuated active rear wing with air brake help reduce dive under hard deceleration and enable the use of a softer front suspension setup for comfier on-road driving.


On the subject of brakes, the LT borrows its callipers from the Senna and uses carbon-ceramic discs that can be upgraded to stronger, cooler-running Senna-spec rotors as an option for heavy track use.


The dry-sumped engine with flat-plane crank and a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers has LT-specific aluminium forged pistons and the same three-layer head gasket as used in the Senna, as well as special carbon-coated cam followers and uprated fuel and oil pumps.


McLaren has tuned the transmission for in-gear acceleration that is claimed to be 15 per

cent quicker than the 720S.


In addition to the stripped-out interior’s natural additional noise ingress, McLaren has used stiffer engine mounts to transmit more of the V8’s bass notes and vibration into the cabin, while four titanium exhaust tips have been angled, spaced and designed to maximise aural pleasure.


Where regulations require it, the exhaust has a titanium bi-modal valve system for quieter progress at urban speeds.


McLaren sold 88 cars in Australia last year, matching the 2018 result. Its best year yet was 2017, when 116 of Woking’s finest found homes here.

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