Driven: McLaren 675LT

It’s so exclusive you couldn’t get one even if you had unlimited resources.

Damien Reid April 24, 2016

McLaren has one of the richest histories in motor racing, second only to Ferrari in Formula One as well as a long and varied career in Sports Cars at LeMans and CanAm in the United States dating back to the early 1970s.

The car may be the new kid on the block, but you can never question McLaren’s rich motorsport heritage and in the case of this ultra rare 675LT, it refers to a particularly glorious era of sports car racing from the mid 1990s.

To be precise, it was in 1997 that McLaren built a long tail version of its F1 sports car for the Le Mans 24-hour race as the flat-out Mulsanne straight required longer bodywork to stop the car from lifting off at over 200 miles per hour. The 1997 Long Tail had better aerodynamics, an improved power to weight ratio and was a full 64 centremetres longer than the regular version.

Paying homage to that illustrious race car is the 675 Long Tail which although it’s only about 4cms longer than the 650S it’s based on, still ticks the other two boxes of being more aerodynamic and holding better power to weight figures than the model it’s based on.

The other thing is that there will only be 500 built worldwide and the sad truth is that every one has now been spoken for, despite its list price of AED 1,350,000.

So we’re exceptionally lucky to get our mitts on what will undoubtedly be an auctioneer’s delight for the super rich in a few years time. McLaren says the 675LT has a “focus on outright performance, weight reduction and ultimate levels of driver engagement,” and after a few days living with the beast, I have to say, that is the understatement of 2016. 

I couldn’t spend more than an hour or two behind the wheel because the big, comfy leather and power operated seats from the 650S have been replaced with lightweight, hip-hugging race seats that have manual adjustment and, while they provide all the lateral support you need for a track car, are a bit thin on the padding to save weight and in turn, are not made for long stints behind the wheel.

But you’re not going to use this for your family holidays with no luggage space and a big roll cage filling up whatever precious cargo space was behind your head. It’s effectively a race car that somehow has snuck through the registration process to be allowed on the road.

Specs

  • Engine: 3.8-litre, V8 twin turbo
  • Transmission: 7-speed automatic
  • Power: 666bhp @ 7100rpm
  • Torque: 700Nm @ 5500rpm
  • 0-100kmh: 2.9 seconds
  • Top Speed: 330kmh
  • Price: AED 1,350,000

There will only be two types of 675LT owners: those who wrap it in cotton wool and watch its price escalate as it sits in a humidified chamber deep within a car-sized vault and those who drive it to the race track for an endless amount of fun. I sincerely hope there’s more of the latter than the former. 

Aside from those seats, the LT also uses a plastic, louvred, plexiglass rear window instead of glass as well as more carbon fibre which helps slice 100kg from its weight to bring it down to a nimble 1320kg or 1230kg dry.

McLaren claims that the windscreen is 0.5mm thinner, the wiring loom is 3kg lighter and the conrods are 11 per cent lighter while at the same time they’ve squeezed an extra 25bhp from the twin-turbocharged, 3.8-litre V8 to give it 666bhp, which works out to be 675PS, hence the name.

So what does this mean from behind the wheel? Firstly it’s not the easiest car to climb in and out of with its upward swinging doors which require you to throw a leg over the very wide carbon fibre monocoque tub.

But once strapped into its carbon-fibre, deep bucket race seat, it’s thankfully just as easy to plod around town as all McLarens and it’s only until you get beyond the city limits and stab the throttle does that Jekyll and Hyde thing start to happen.

On paper, the figures read 2.9 seconds to get it to 100kmh with a 330kmh top end but in reality, the absolute gunshot that hits you in the back of the head as you jump on the gas literally does take your breath away.

Adding to the adrenalin rush is the rapidfire quick gear changes which are 55 per cent faster thanks to the ECU cutting the ignition on the upshifts to give full-bore, flat to the floor upshifts right through the rev range.

That delightful flat-plane crank sound is enhanced further with revised titanium exhausts that exit the car mid way up like two rear-mounted canon and if you get the downshift and throttle setting just right, they spit glorious bursts of blue and orange flame as they pop the unburnt fuel after a hard run.

It’s one of those cars where you could place a AED 1,000 note on the dash and challenge your passenger to grab it as you take off knowing full well you’d keep your money every time.

The LT still provides three modes of damping stiffness and powertrain anger just like the 650S so you can turn up the noise yet leave the suspension relatively supple.

The steering rack is faster, its suspension spring rates are 27 per cent stiffer at the front and 60 per cent firmer in the rear which makes it more agile, responsive and rewarding than the 650 to the point where it felt more like thrashing a tiny Lotus than the mid-mounted, twin-turbo V8 super car it is.

It’s an immensely rewarding car to drive and with that extra few centremetres over the rear comes a 50 per cent larger rear wing that also acts as an air brake for when you jump on the brakes with both feet.

Slam on the anchors and the wing rises a near 90 degrees to act as a parachute to arrest the car, wiping off speed at an indecent rate. It’s been a trait of all modern McLarens going back to the Mercedes-based SLR, but never as dramatic as this.

Which is probably the best word to sum up this car. Everywhere you look it is dramatic in its poise, acceleration, grip, braking and overall manners. Like buying prime real estate or gold bullion, the 675LT is an investment that will keep paying off, decade after decade and will be looked upon many years down the track as an outrageous car for its time.