About a month ago Pistonheads published a list ranking every road legal McLaren since 2010. The article wasn’t signed and just attributed to the PH Staff. I’m not surprised no one took credit. Going through the PH’s ranking, there isn’t much I would agree with. However, since it’s all subjective, there is no right or wrong answers and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I also have no idea what criteria (design, driving dynamics, usability, etc) they were using for the ranking. For what it is worth, here is how I would rank the post 2010 McLarens. The ranking is based on a combination of driving dynamics, usability, & ownership costs/build quality. I’ve only included the McLarens I have either owned or have extensive seat time in. As a result, I have not included the Speedtail, GT, 540C, 570 GT, or 620R.
11 – 570S
I have spent several days driving both the 570S coupe and 570S Spider. To a large extent it isn’t fair to include it on this list as the 570S is a sports car and all the other are either super or hyper cars. As a sports car its hugely capable. I would take a 570S over a Audi R8 every day of the week. It’s not a supercar on par with the rest of the McLaren range though. You do notice that it’s a bit down on power vs. a 12C or 650S and the conventional coil spring suspension McLaren used for the 570S to save cost is nowhere near as good as the hydraulically linked ProActive Chassis Control suspension McLaren uses in all their supercars. On a more positive note, the 570S does have that wonderful, perfectly weighted McLaren hydraulic steering.
10 – 600LT
For all the same core reasons the 570S ranks 11th, the 600LT ranks 10th. The 600LT is a great sports car and worthy of the “LT” suffix, in its class. The issue the 600LT has is I instantly compare it to the 675LT and the 765LT. In this company, it’s the boy amongst men. While the 600LT feels very special (Driving the 600LT)when compared to the 570S, it falls short of the 650S. Like the 570S, it’s the suspension where you can really feel the difference on the road. The 600LT’s power to weight ratio and performance stats are very similar to the 650S but the 650S is a much more usable car.
9 – 12C
The 12C is the only car we have ever owned three different versions of. It was our first McLaren and one I still remember fondly. Like most first tries it did have a few teething problems and the 12Cs improved remarkably across the build years. Our 2014 12C was significantly better than our 2012 12C. I daily drove a 12C for over a year and it preformed flawlessly. If the 12C has a fault, it just a bit to clinical.
8 – 650S
The 650S took the 12C and improved it in a huge number of small ways. The net result is a car that is just better in every way. We have owned one for 8 years (650S 8 Year Update) and I used it as my daily driver most of that time. Where the 12C could be quite clinical, the 650S is a more rewarding car to drive. There is an edge to it missing on the earlier car and the 650S is a further step up in terms of build quality. The 650S gets very high scores in terms of usability and maintenance costs. Even after 8 years, the 650S is still near the top of the supercar pyramid in terms of performance. If there are two attributes the 650S has that really stand out its ride quality and steering feel.
7 – Elva
If this list was just based on driving dynamics, the Elva (especially the version with the windshield) would be in the top 3. On a sunny day on a great road, the Elva is a thing of beauty. Huge amounts of power, mind warping acceleration, handles like it’s on rails, and that beautifully weighted McLaren hydraulic steering makes for just a wonderful package (Driving the Elva). Looking at the Elva, it feels long and wide but it just shrinks around you as you push it. Where the Elva loses points, is it is the least usable car McLaren has ever built. In fact, the Elva is only slightly more practical than a F1 race car and has similar amounts of luggage room and weather protection. However, if I had to pick one car on this list to drive for one day only in perfect conditions across the Alps, it’s the Elva I would grab the keys to.
6 – Artura
The Artura was one of the hardest cars I found to rank. It’s McLaren’s first production series hybrid and it hasn’t had the easiest of births. However, it is the most usable supercar McLaren has built to date. The Artura simply does a huge number of things really well (4 Days with the Artura). It’s the only supercar I have ever driven for hours in stop and go city traffic and been completely comfortable doing so. Take the Artura up into the mountains and open it up and it completely comes alive. Ride quality, handling, and steering feel are all outstanding. The Artura actually has a few more bhp than the 675LT and when you push it, it shows. The 8 speed gearbox is smooth and quick. Acceleration is ballistic and quite linear. The addition of ApplePlay plus improvements to both the turning radius and interior also make this perhaps McLaren’s best all-around supercar.
5 – 720S
If the 650S was a big improvement on engagement vs. the 12C, the 720S represented an equal size jump on the 650S. The 720S builds on both the 650S and the magical 675LT. The new carbon fiber tub further improved on the excellent handling and made the 720S a more livable car. The cabin is significantly roomier and much easier to get in and out of. Six years on, it’s still basically best in class in terms of performance. Like the 12C, build quality improved across the build years. While you certainly could use a 720S as a daily driver, it does feel almost a bit to special for the daily grind. We owned both an early 720S Coupe and a later 720S Spider. Personally, preferred the Spider as with the carbon fiber tub, with the roof up, it’s on par with the Coupe and on a sunny day, being able to put the roof down is a great bonus. Ownership costs are on par with the earlier super series McLarens.
4 – Senna
As a car to drive, the Senna is as intense as it is ballistic (The Senna Experience). As a car to own, maintenance is remarkably reasonable for its class. Of the road legal race cars, the Senna has to be the most livable. While sound deadening is minimal, its actually quite comfortable, and ride quality is excellent. You can drive the Senna for a couple of hours and not emerge beaten up. Handling is off the charts and the Senna just feels glued to the road regardless of speed. In the four years we have owned ours, I have never had the rear end so much as twitch. It’s a more usable hypercar than the Elva but with luggage room very limited, it’s never going to be the car of choice for more than an overnight road trip.
3 – P1
If the list was based solely on performance and the driving experience, the P1 would likely be #1 on this list. It’s still probably the best looking car McLaren has produced to date. The P1 both accelerates and stops unlike any other car I have ever driven. If the P1’s acceleration is best described as outright violent, stomping on the brakes will slam your brain against the front of your skull. The ride is not quite as polished as the Senna but handling is razor sharp. Usability is about on par with the Senna and neither are cars I would want to be driving in heavy rain. Where the P1 really loses points is in build quality and running costs. The first wasn’t quite as good as it should have been and the second are downright eye watering. At some point, the hybrid battery will need replacement and that will run well into 6 figures (P1 Farewell).
2 – 765 LT
In terms of outright performance, the 765LT is 90% of the Senna. On usability, it’s at least 200%. Build quality is excellent and the 765LT just feels incredibly solid to drive. This summer we spent the better part of a week living in our 765LT Spider while covering over 2,000 miles (Road Trip to Sun Valley). There are only two McLarens I have had the opportunity to drive flat out, the P1 and the 765LT Spider. At very high speed, the 765LT Spider is incredibly stable and planted. Acceleration isn’t quite as violent as the P1 but it also isn’t as intimidating. Of all the McLaren LTs, the 765LT is both the most polished and the most fearsome.
1 – 675LT
We have owned a McLaren 675LT for seven years (case for the 675LT). I still get as excited taking it out for a drive today as I did the first time I dropped down into the driver’s seat. There isn’t one element that makes the 675LT so special, it’s the entire package. This is the car that McLaren got everything right on. Build quality is outstanding, you can take it on a week long road trip, it cruises sedately on the highway, and turns feral as soon as you start to push it. Maintenance costs are on par with the 650S. Driving the 675LT up a long twisty mountain road, it’s just ludicrously quick and planted. The 7-speed dual clutch gear box is both fast and full of character as you bang shift offs. Steering weight and feel is outstanding and placing the 675LT on the road is easy, which is hugely confidence inspiring on a car so quick. Of all the McLaren’s the 675LT is the most engaging to drive across a wide range of driving conditions. Of all the “track” focused special editions that Aston Martin, Ferrari, McLaren, & Porsche have produced over the last decade and a half, it’s the 675LT that I would put at the top of the list.
When you look at the length and richness of the list, its hard to believe that McLaren Automotive has only been producing road cars for a bit over a dozen years now. McLaren’s catalogue is already rich, deep, and diverse. My rankings are a reflection of my own experiences having owned the majority of the cars on the list. It come very much from a long term owners point of view on the full ownership experience and not just a few hours on the track or a back country road. If I was to rank them on preference to drive on a track or take on a road trip, it would certainly change things up a bit.
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