The 675LT Spider has been with us for 6 years now. During this period, it has been our road trip car of choice. The 675LT Spider has been driven across the Rocky Mountains, down both coasts, and across a desert. It started life on the US East Coast, moved out to Montana, went on vacation in California, spent a few months in Texas, and then headed back to the East Coast. It does sound like the 675LT Spider has lived the life of a young millennial. This year, it faced its first real, and a very major threat to its place in our garage. Even with the arrival of the 765LT Spider, the 675LT Spider remains my favorite McLaren. Not the best, not the most comfortable, not the fastest, not the most extreme, but simply my favorite. Now “favorite” in my mind is something that is earned over time. It’s a label that comes after multiple years of ownership. It’s built through drives in a wide range of different conditions and across many great road trips. As such, the 765LT Spider is far too new to seriously vie for the title.
The first time I drove our McLaren 675LT Spider I got out thinking this was the best car McLaren had built, that still holds to this day. It felt incredibly well put together and I was comfortable driving it hard very quickly. The configuration we decided upon was anything but subtle combining rather bright Tarocco Orange paint work with an orgy of carbon fiber. We spec’ed our 675LT Spider for road use with long road trips in mind. As such we opted for the more comfortable electric heated seats, electric steering column, vehicle lift and the full leather interior. I would have preferred the manual racing buckets, but Mrs. SSO was fairly prescriptive when it came to the seats referencing a not so pleasant 10 hours she once spent in the F40’s utilitarian buckets crossing the Swiss Alps. I also had the car fitted with the normal Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tires vs. the track focused Trofeo R’s. While the Trofeo’s are great in the dry, rain is not their friend and we have spent plenty of time driving through major downpours on various road trips.
To get into the 675LT Spider you swing the driver’s side door up and forward, put your right foot in the driver’s footwell, then then basically drop as elegantly as possible into the driver’s seat. Once in, the left leg gets lifted over the large sill and slides under the steering wheel. With the right foot firmly on the brake pedal, you press the starter button in and the 675LT Spider roars into life before settling almost immediately into a low rumble of an idle around 1000 rpms. Next raise the small left hand stalk twice to activate the nose lift and then pull the roof button up on the central consul to let nature shine in. Poke the reverse button on the center consul, touch the gas pedal lightly and the gloom of the garage is replaced by bright sunlight. Once well clear of the garage, it’s a quick pull on the right hand paddle, steering wheel all the way over to the left, give it a bit more gas, and off you go.
Once out into the wild, the transmission setting gets moved to “Sport”. As the 675LT Spider is a twin turbo V8, its slow in, fast out in the curves. With the big carbon ceramic brakes, braking comes late and just before you turn in. With the huge levels of grip, you can get back on the power as soon as corner starts to open up. The steering is razor sharp and gives great immediate feedback which just builds confidence. Get it all right and you get a nice big “bang” on each upshift. The 675LT Spider is a rhythm car. When driver and automobile are in sync and flowing smoothly down the road, it’s a wonderful deeply rewarding feeling.
When it comes to driving the 675LT Spider, confidence inspiring does not even begin to sum it up. The 675LT Spider does exactly what you ask of it and provides the feedback to prove it. You feel like the 675LT Spider shrinks around you the faster you go. The car just sticks to the road and the steering is perfectly weighted. On a tight demanding mountain road, rapid progress in the 675LT Spider comes smoothly, with minimal physical effort. Your hands never move off the steering wheel. Going around a corner, the 675LT Spider stays perfectly flat and there is no feeling of weight trying to move out of line around behind you. Gear changes are executed with a single flick of the index and middle fingers and a loud bang from the back lets you know the shift has been immediately executed. A quick short pivot on the heel of your right foot moves you from the accelerator to the brake. Turbo lag is minimal and the power is very linear from 2000 rpms right up to the redline. The 675LT Spider feels glued to the pavement and I have never had the rear move out of line. Lots of curves and elevation changes both challenge and help highlight the exceptional capabilities of this car. Right foot, fingers, and arms are all constantly in motion as driver, car, and asphalt are in intense discussion as the changing geography serves up constant challenges.
During its first East Coast stay, the 675LT Spider was used for multiple road trips to visit our sons at their respective Colleges. On one of these trips when we were crossing from Vermont into New Hampshire, we ran into a biblical downpour. The waves of water coming off the back of the 675LT’s wing were truly spectacular. Limited visibility dictated speed but through it all, the 675LT Spider remained firmly planted despite the rivers of water running across the road. On a later trip when we were driving from Vermont into upper New York State we had one of those magical drives across Route 11 and Route 30 where traffic disappears, and the weather is perfect. The 675LT Spider just flowed down the road, roof down, devouring corners effortlessly. Steering, braking, and gear changes all just happened intuitively.
As good as the 675LT Spider was up in New England, it feels like it was designed for driving the mountain passes that surround our place in Montana. Wildlife adds in an additional level of complexity, and you always need to be on the watch for everything from deer to moose to big horn sheep to bears and just about everything else in between. The McLaren 675LT Spider excels at the constant changes of direction, rapid acceleration, hard braking, and quick gear changes. The steering is perfectly weighted and incredibly precise. This allows you to put the car exactly where you want it. The 675LT neither under nor oversteers and the back-end stays glued to the road. On public roads I normally leave the handling in “normal” as I want the maximum amount of “nannying” as the long hard winters leave plenty of loose gravel on the roads. The transmission alternates between “sport” and “track” as I prefer the quicker shift times and enjoy the loud “crack” you get when shift up near the redline. While the large carbon-ceramic brakes are outstanding, so is the engine braking and in many cases a couple of pulls of the left-hand paddle is more than effective enough in scrubbing off speed going into the next corner. With the top down, the 675LT sounds terrific and you can hear the engine soundtrack bouncing off the rock faces of the surrounding mountains.
One of the most memorable drives in the 675LT Spider was in California on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The PCH is definitely one of the 10 roads you need to drive in your lifetime. It is just spectacular, demands complete concentration, and rewards immensely when you get into a rhythm. I don’t think there was a single straight section of more than a couple hundred yards for the 135 miles from San Luis to Monterey. In places it feels like you are hanging over the cliffs with nothing but rocks below and ocean stretching to the horizon. Surprisingly for highly regulated California, guard rails were in very short supply and the punishment for overcooking a corner would be both severe, immediate, and very likely terminal. While the 675LT Spider makes for a great car, put it in the water and it’s going to be a very crappy boat. The McLaren 675LT Spider was completely at home in this environment. Gear changes were constant between 2nd and 3rd. The never-ending corners were slow in, balance on the throttle, and then accelerate briefly as your slight line opened up before a quick dab on the massive ceramic brakes to scrub off speed before the next change of direction. The PCH gave me a new appreciation for just how beautifully weighted and rich in feedback the 675LT’s is. The constant feedback allows you to place the car exactly where you want it, which is absolutely critical on a demanding road carved into the side of a cliff. The amount of grip is extraordinary and not once did the car step out of line.
Despite its more “track” focused nature, the 675LT Spider is also quite capable of covering massive distances in a day long sprint while not inflecting undue damage on the passengers. My youngest son and I did 1,230 miles in a single day in it a few years back. I drove about 800 of the miles and he did the remainder. The drive started early one morning in Montana and finished just before midnight in Texas. Montana and Wyoming are two to the best states I know of for “rapid progress” and the 675LT Spider is quite happy to run at high speed for hours on end. For the then 19 year old, being able to stretch the 675LT Spider’s legs out in the vast empty flatlands of Wyoming was quite the experience. One memorable part of that drive was the final sprint to our resting place for that night. Shortly before crossing into New Mexico, the last rays of light disappeared, and we were into a moonless night. While the headlights on the 675LT Spider are outstanding, they do little to illuminate what might be lurking on the side of the road and there are plenty of deer in this part of the country. At this point we were off the Interstate Highway, and on smaller roads for the final 200 miles. While we did have two deer sightings on the side of the road, both gave us a wide berth before heading on their way.
With our long history together and wealth of great experiences, the 675LT Spider has cemented its place as part of our family. As such, I can’t see a time anywhere in the near future where I consider parting with it. The fact that it has been completely reliable and reasonable to maintain, just adds to its attractiveness. The 675LT Spider put a massive smile on my face the first time I drove it, and it still does 6 years later.
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