I’m a lucky guy, for two reasons, firstly because late last year I placed a deposit for what was then labelled P11R, and secondly because McLaren invited me to join their press launch event for the new 675LT – putting me in the unique situation of being both a journalist covering the launch and having a first drive in the new car, as well as being a customer who has already committed to a pretty solid investment into this car.
This year I’ve been fortunate enough to drive some pretty special cars: Bugatti Veyron Vitesse WRC, Pagani Huayra, Porsche 918 Spyder etc, but probably the single day I’ve most looked forward to was heading to Silverstone to get behind the wheel of the McLaren 675LT.
I can immediately say it did not disappoint, myself and the other 499 customers are exceptionally lucky people!
Here you can take a watch of my first drive on video, but also stay tuned because I have a lot more to come with the McLaren 675LT:
After having put a total of around 25,000 miles over the last 18 months onto my 12C and 650S Spider, I would say I am very familiar with the feel and setup of McLaren’s P11 cars. My track experience is limited overall to this stage but I did drive the same International Circuit in the 650S only a few months ago.
On arrival at Silverstone we were greeted by a line-up of cars, including the legendary F1 GTR Longtail #41 that raced at Le Mans in ‘97:
A 675LT prototype, being discussed by Chris Goodwin and Steve Sutcliffe:
And finally one of the three exceptionally valuable F1 GT Longtail road cars:
Before we were directed for an intro talk, with Mr Goodwin explaining the new car:
Out into the pit lane and a line of 675LTs awaited. In total for the day there were eight cars, all in the five hero colour schemes: two Delta Red, two Chicane, two Napier Green, one Silica White and one McLaren Orange.
We were to each take a passenger orientation lap, followed by a triple lap session running through Normal, Sport and Track modes, before heading out for a final six lap session to use as we wished, which I took as one further run in Normal before the majority of the further laps in Sport and ultimately a quick test in Track.
When you jump into the car, you are of course greeted by the new bucket seat but in general it’s all very familiar. Small changes like the movement of the Air Conditioning controls to the Iris system have reduced weight from the control panels, and also allowed the inclusion of a new 10 speaker system with new tweeters in their place, and a further tweeter in the centre of the dashboard.
Half of the cars present featured the Club Sport package titanium roll hoop taking up the parcel shelf, but all had air conditioning added back in – remembering that by default it is removed to save the 11.5kgs of weight. None featured the Soft Close Doors, although I believe the weight cost of adding that option is negligible.
There were of course a mixture of wheel and colour configurations between the standard 5 spoke design, painted silver, stealth or diamond cut, and the Ultra-Lightweight 10 spoke design that is lighter than even the P1’s wheel.
Track time! For me this meant one of the Delta Red cars, a colour I had initially been fairly sceptical would work but probably after the conclusion of the day my favourite of the five Hero specifications. The simple drawback for me would be the never-ending comments of “Nice Ferrari” and the like – that would drive me insane!
As I mentioned I’m not a huge regular to the track, although I hope the future is going to change that, so I’m not best placed to judge when really trying to push on but the stand out differences to me of the 675LT experience over my earlier trip to the same circuit in the 650S revolved around how much more feedback the car gives the driver. You can tell that you aren’t carrying much weight around – it’s only 1228kg afterall – and the steering is exceptionally sharp and direct. My first run down Hangar straight caused my head to hit the seat and my jaw to drop because the power increase took me totally by surprise. I think I let out a little giggle, even running in normal mode!
Turning the car then into Sport mode both on the Handling and Powertrain toggles obviously firms up the suspension, puts the gearbox into the mode without ignition cut, and generally dials things up. A difference to before is that the ESC settings are now controlled by a new dedicated button that operates independently of the Handling toggle with the button placed in the centre and the Aero button having moved down to replace Winter mode. I think the point is you aren’t supposed to drive this car in winter…
The car is of course running at this point on Pirelli Pzero Trofeo R, a tyre offering 6% more grip than the Pzero Corsa and we were driving in perfect conditions for it. The speeds they allow you to go through the corners for a car of this price points are mind boggling. Of course you are also operating under the influence of that new huge airbrake that similarly flattens via DRS under harsh acceleration and raises vertically for braking assistance to anchor down the rear, as well as raising if the back gets light or cornering assistance is required. The aero increase of 40% over 650S is noticeable as you can feel so much more the dynamics such as lift-off turn in at work.
Now let’s talk about the sound, OH THAT SOUND! McLaren have done everything right, absolutely everything. The new 5.2kg titanium exhaust system with cross-over pipes has been fully engineered for making a serious noise, and when combined with no ignition cut and unburnt fuel hitting the exhaust you get all sorts of noises going on. Sport mode is all about being playful and as such that’s where you hear the most cracks from behind, be it on upshift or downshift. When you turn up to track it’s all about speed and performance and the shift times become just 40ms – which when combined with pre-cog is truly instantaneous, although slightly less aural effect.
I left the car from my track sessions with a huge beam on my face, I know drivers who are more capable than I are going to find this car incredibly rewarding. For me I was then looking forward to the road session to be able to more accurately compare the experience.
It’s here that another feature started to be demonstrated: turning traction off, smashing the throttle, and letting the car light up a perfect set of elevens via burnout mode. This very much shows the character of the new car, one that’s willing to have some fun and let you misbehave!
I parked my 650S Spider, in Mantis Green, alongside a 675LT in Napier Green to take a look at the differences and immediately what strikes you is how much more menacing the LT is. The front is lowered 20mm to give a more aggressive stance which combines with the more forward splitter and end plates.
The rear is a whole new kettle of fish, seriously enhanced and more aggressive with so many more openings for airflow. In my opinion it’s one of the best rear ends of any car on the road.
With the gigantic exhaust tips taking centre stage, there’s a lot to look at but it works exceptionally well. There’s a lot of confusion over the name, ‘Long Tail’, but this represents the track ethos and the car being designed around track performance and driver focus – something that gets confused when people realise it’s only 34mm longer in real terms.
Hitting the road then; you’re snug in the bucket seats, very low to the ground, but feel connected to the car in a big way. In front of you is the very simple and well-planned instrument panel with large central rev-counter with new 675LT logos, your legs can sit dead straight and comfortably on the pedals. The seat itself from experience is a brilliant design, the P1 buckets do not get tiring on longer drives and remain very supportive and the 675LT seats are a derivative of that. Overall the cabin is familiar, functional and well equipped.
Starting in Normal mode the ride is firm but not uncomfortably so, comments that Normal is akin to Sport on the 650S are likely correct. As with all previous models it’s here though that the car shows it’s multiple characters because even the very same car that can lap tracks hot on the heels of the hypercars can be a supple and comfortable daily driver.
Turning it into Sport mode you open back up the exhaust and enter a world of wanting to constantly shift gears just for the pleasure of the backfires behind you. The new extended carbon paddles fitted to the rocker-system feel fantastic and whether using them or not the performance is mind boggling.
One of the biggest tell tale signs of what McLaren are going for with this car, and opening up more emotional feeling from it, comes from the relative ease with which you seem to be able to light up traction control in any gear; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, even 4th. You are naturally feeling like it’s a more extreme drive, in a very, very exciting way, and as mentioned when you do put that power down then boy does it get a serious move on.
I think there is only really one way to sum up the 675LT; it is effectively a baby-P1 without the hybrid system and the weight that comes with it. The step from 650S to 675LT is substantially larger than 650S brought the game on from 12C, in a way that took me again by surprise. The performance is leagues ahead of anything else in the class, and with the introduction of significantly more driver feedback and ability to enjoy the limits, I can’t see anything touching it for quite a while.
I feel like an exceptionally lucky guy to be taking delivery of one of these a few months from now, and to everyone out there, be excited, be very excited!