4 Days & 4 Hundred Miles with the Epic McLaren 765LT

Immediately after my Elva drive (see: Driving the McLaren Elva), I collected a McLaren 765LT that McLaren North America had dropped off for me to collect at McLaren Greenwich.  Despite having seen multiple 765LTs at this point, this would be the first time I had actually driven one.  Even better, the car was mine for the next four days with the only requests being please return it in one piece and please don’t put more than 400 miles on it.  Both requests I thought were quite reasonable.  Having the 765LT for four days allowed me to really get a sense of what it would be like to own and live with car that a few journalists/influencers seemed to believe was completely “feral” while answering a few key questions I had rolling around in the back of my head.  The first question is if the 765LT is a worthy successor to my favorite McLaren, the 675LT? The 2nd question is how different is the 765LT from the hugely competent 720S?  The plan was to enjoy the 765LT for the four days we had together and then come back to these two questions after it departed.

Having collected the key at the reception desk, I immediately headed out to the 765LT, popped open the driver’s door, and dropped down behind the steering wheel.  The interior of the 765LT is nearly identical to the 720S with a bit less carpeting and a bit more carbon fiber trim.  While there are three seat options, base buckets, “P1” type seats, and “Senna” seats, this 765LT was fitted with the ”P1” seats which are much easier to get in and out of than the “Senna” seats but require a bit more navigation than the base buckets.  The Senna seats provide the most support if you are tracking the car followed by the P1 and then the base buckets.  An owner’s choice of seats really comes down to use case.  We spec’ed the very comfortable base buckets in the 675LT Spider and have been very happy with them as our 675LT Spider has mostly been used for road trips.  As a long term 720S owner, the controls were all very familiar, so after getting the side mirrors set, it was time to head out.

 

As I pressed the starter button, the 765LT burst into life.  Given the early press reviews, I half expected to see the dashboard light up with a welcome message of “I am a McLaren 765LT – prepare to die”.  It does instantly feel a bit more high strung and urgent than the 720S.  A tug of the right hand paddle, a bit of right ankle flex, followed by a press of the button on the end of the small right hand stalk to get the nose up for exiting the parking lot, and we were off.

On the Merritt Parkway, any immediate ideas that the 765LT had of trying to kill me were completely foiled by the bumper to bumper traffic which dragged on for the first ten miles.  We hopped off at the first exit and headed north to cut across some back country roads which would have been originally cut through the forest by my ancestors when they first settled in the area 14 generations ago.  With the road in front now clear, and a bit of prodding by my right foot, the 765LT started to come alive.  Like the 675LT, the more you push the 765LT, the more it shrinks around you.  Grip is enormous and the front end tracks exactly to where you point it.  The steering is McLaren perfect in terms of both weight and feedback.  On roads like these you almost don’t need the brakes if you time the up and downshift points well and you can use the throttle to drive you out of one corner and towards the next.  The 765LT piles on speed like a tazered cat so get the touch right on the accelerator pedal is critical.  After about half an hour of back road bonding, we arrived at our 1st destination, New Canaan.

After overnighting in New Canaan, the 765LT and I set off early the next morning for the south coast of Massachusetts.  The weather forecast was for clouds with a slight chance of rain.  Twenty minutes into the drive it started raining and continued to do so for the next several hours.  I figured if the 765LT was going to try to kill me, this was its chance.  We were on the highway, moving at a good clip, it’s raining, and there is lots of foliage to launch into right off the roadway.  Instead, the 765LT did something quite surprising, the rear end never so much as twitched, even during the few times we had to brake on the more aggressive side, the front end continued to go exactly where it was pointed, and the whole car felt completely planted despite the conditions.  The longer we drove through the rain, the more my trust and confidence in the 765LT grew.

One hundred and sixty miles later, we had cleared Providence and it was time to leave the monotony of the Interstate Highway system and head down to the coast.  At this point, the clouds lifted, and the sun made a belated appearance, so we headed south on Route 88 towards the water.  Route 88 is an almost dead straight semi divided road that runs alongside some great beaches at its southern end.  While it appears to be a very tempting place to fully open a car up as you can see for miles, it’s also a very profitable piece of tarmac for the local police department.  In this case we used it to make sure the brakes were fully dry.  The original plan was to head directly home to meet Mrs. SSO for lunch.  Problem was I really wasn’t ready to get out of the 765LT so as I neared the southern end of RT 88, I took a left and headed into the countryside.

 

 

By now I was reasonably certain that the 765LT was not going to try and kill me.  In fact, we had become friends and I now had a huge amount of confidence in the car as it had got me safely though a couple of torrential downpours.  Perhaps the 765LT just has a dislike for certain journalists/influencers who malign almost everything that comes out of Woking.  Rapidly drying roads and trust in the 765LT combined for a fantastic half an hour of driving.  This was all 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gear territory with both my left and right index fingers getting a through work out as I banged of a constant series of both up and down shifts.  When you are on it and get it right, a tug of the right hand paddle is rewarded with a what sounds like a high powered rifle shot coming out the back.  It’s on drives like this that you just roll down the windows to enjoy the soundtrack from the back.  A couple of times we needed to shed speed rapidly as a member of the local wildlife decided to dart into the road and I am keenly aware of the cost of replacing a carbon fiber front splitter.  Under heavy braking, the 765LT stayed perfectly flat and straight.  These were roads that I am used to running in the 675LT Spider.  The 765LT was as much fun and even more ballistic.

 

Having put off my lunch date for as long as possible, sadly it was now time to head home and give the 765LT a rest for a few hours.  At this point I had covered well over 200 miles in the 765LT and done it in a wide variety of conditions.  The 765LT handled all of them extremely well.  The “P1” seats are very comfortable for long trips and keep you well planted in the windy stuff.  While the suspension feels a bit stiffer than the 720S, it’s not too hard to the point it becomes uncomfortable and retains that unique McLaren ability to stay poised even on really crappy road surfaces.  At this point, the only test I had left for 765LT was the daily drag. 

 

Come Monday morning it was errand time so off we went.  As per my experience a few days prior in heavy traffic on the Merritt Parkway, the 765LT is just fine in the stop and go drudgery.  While it doesn’t crawl forward like a 720S when you take your foot off the brake and it’s in 1st gear, it’s easy to just give it a touch of throttle when you need to crawl along.  With the front nose lift up, getting in and out of most parking lots is a drama free event and the front trunk (frunk) easily swallows a week’s worth of groceries.  Visibility for maneuvering around parking lots is quite good.  The only negative is the P1 seats can be a bit tiring to be constantly bouncing in and out of, the base buckets would be a better choice in this situation. 

765LT vs. 675LT

Going back to the original questions, first is the 765LT a worthy successor to the 675LT?  In my opinion, most definitely.  The 765LT has retained all the things that made the 675LT such a unique special car and then taken up another notch.  It’s also clear that a lot of the learnings from the Senna’s development have been built into the 765LT.  For long trips, it’s a more comfortable car to be in and in the rain, it feels more planted.  You also have some visibility out of the back of the 765LT with the wing up, whereas the wind on the 675LT does a good job of blocking out the sun.  As you would expect given the bhp difference between the two, the 765LT is more ballistic but outside of a race track, that isn’t really relevant.  They both have more than plenty of power for any public road.  Steering lock is an area where the 765LT is a huge improvement over its predecessor, you no longer need a football field to get the LT turned around.  While I still prefer the lines of the 675LT, the 765LT is growing on me.  This is a car whose looks are heavily reliant on spec.  In the right colors, the 765LT will look terrific, in the wrong colors, it has the potential to look a bit like a tuner special.  Darker colors definitely suit it better as the 765LT has numerous wings and scoops which are better visually faded into the background so that the eye better scans the overall lines of the car vs. being pulled into focusing on appendages. 

 

765LT vs. 720S

Walking around the 765LT, the 720S feels like the car’s skin has been pulled taught over its skeleton, whereas the 765LT appears much more muscular and aggressive.  The rear wing, the 765LT’s “Long Tail”, is certainly substantial with its upturned edge, but its less of a delta vs. the 720S than its predecessor, the 675LT was vs. the 650S.  Given the already imposing size of the 720S’ wing, expecting a similar size increase is not realistic.  The wing isn’t the only challenge the 765LT faces on establishing a gap vs. the 720S.  McLaren incorporated a number of elements that make the 675LT such a special car into the 720S so for the 765LT, a new list of unique driver focused attributes needed to be put on the table.  Power delivery is more linear, and the weight loss combined with the extra power makes for a nimbler car.  I can’t figure out how McLaren did it, but with the 765LT, they somehow developed a car that’s even more focused than 675LT and at the same time retains more of the polish of the 720S.

    

Summary

When the Reliable Van showed up at the bottom of my driveway, I didn’t want to give the 765LT back.  It’s a just such a special fantastic thing to drive.  In many ways the 765LT is a Senna that you could use as a daily driver.  If found the early journalist/influencer reviews on the 765LT being a handful to be completely different to my experience.  It is certainly worthy of the “LT” designation and carries on where the 675LT left off.  As the last of the pre-hybrid McLaren’s, 765LT will likely be considered the ultimate evolution of the line that started back with the 12C.  If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to own a 765LT, understanding its intended use case and choosing the right seats is key to a great ownership experience.  The only thing I would do to improve it is to chop the top off.  If rumors are to be believed, a Spider version might just be around the corner.

 

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July 2021

 

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11 Thoughts on 4 Days & 4 Hundred Miles with the Epic McLaren 765LT
    John
    30 Jul 2021
     12:32pm

    “The 765LT piles on speed like a tazered cat…”

    I’ll have to “borrow” my neighbour’s cat to see what it looks like tazered. Don’t feel sorry for it, it did poop in my garden.

    Great write up on the 765LT. I think the only problem with the 675LT was McLaren hinting that it would be limited, but wasn’t from what I could tell. Same with the Senna. Prices of both shot up, and then settled back down. Everything you say about the McLarens tells me they’re a joy to drive, precise and reassuring. That is something that I can appreciate.

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    Fred
    26 Jul 2021
     11:20pm

    Another great post, thank you for the insight, keep them coming! Loved the Elva post as well.

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    Cliff
    27 Jul 2021
     2:04pm

    Top chopped off as of today. 7.27.21

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    Jas
    27 Jul 2021
     11:53am

    Awesome review & comparison to 675LT and 720S.

    You 100% echoed my own conclusions on the 765LT. My review also drew comparisons to a couple of the misleading initial press & influencer opinions.

    Great write up.

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    Bryan Hull
    27 Jul 2021
     12:35pm

    Just before I read this post an email arrived about the Spider.
    I think you’re right about the car being colour sensitive and the demonstrator you drove wasn’t a great choice when spec’d

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    Heidi
    25 Aug 2021
     12:23pm

    Comprehensive & enjoyable write up on the 765LT SSO – Spider ✔️ Comfort Seats ✔️ Now to decide on color!

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    The McLaren 765LT Spider & The Use Case Rule| karenable
    31 Aug 2021
     8:44pm

    […] Based on my experience with the 675LT Spider, my going in assumption was the 765LT would slot somewhere in-between the 720S and Senna in terms of performance, comfort, and useability.  Exactly where in this range the 765LT Spider would land would be one, if not the most, critical decision driver.  If I hadn’t been able to get a clear answer, we likely would not have gone ahead with the order.  Fortunately I got an email from McLaren offering to lend me a 765LT about a month before any decisions needed to be made (see: 4 Days & 400 Miles with a 765LT). […]

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