TEST: McLaren 765LT – TopGear – TopGear magazine France

As the new flagship of the Sports Series, it is placed at the very top of the current range, that is to say just below the very exclusive Ultimate Series (Senna, Speedtail, Elva). The 765LT is a 720S with 80 kg less (titanium exhaust, thinner windows, even more carbon), 45 hp more and a revised suspension. It still has the hydraulically connected cross-linked shocks, but the front track has been widened, ground clearance reduced, with custom springs and shock absorbers. The idea is not to make a race car approved for the road (like the Senna) but above all to maximize the pleasure and the involvement of the driver. As standard, it is delivered with the Pirelli most allergic to water, the Trofeo R.

No, because there is an option to shoe it in standard P Zero if you want. On the track, the McLaren's vigor is mind-blowing, but its manners leave a little to be desired at the limit. It is physical to drive and it must be tamed, even abrupt. In short, you have to really have a head on what you're doing, otherwise it's hard to get anything out of it. At least it's memorable, if not truly rewarding.

Not really, no. Let's start with the engine. On the track, you feel its power above all, because you always hit the top of the tachometer, where response time is not a problem. We let ourselves be hypnotized by the diodes of the gearshift indicator, we play paddles to keep up with the rhythm, that's about all we can do while we are violently thrown in the bucket by the 765 hp and 800 Nm, which play off the 1,230 kg and blithely exceed the grip of a hot 305 mm wide Trofeo R train.

On the road, we drive more on the torque. McLaren points out that modifications to the twin-turbo 4.0 V8 have improved low-end response, but it's hard to feel a difference in practice. The pistons are in forged aluminum, the cylinder head gasket is borrowed from the Senna, there is an additional fuel pump and the electronic management has been revised. However, peak torque does not come until 5,500 rpm.

You'd quickly forget it if you could count on an instant response below it, but before 3000 rpm the engine seems almost listless. Then when it goes, it goes … If the map of the accelerator is fine enough to control the arrival of power, riding at an intermediate pace is frustrating. You have to stay in first gear for it to respond correctly, but then it's too explosive for reasoned use on the road. In short, it's all or nothing. Black or white, although one would still have expected the 765LT to have a vast palette of gray in between.

You can try to exploit it to a certain extent, staying in third to keep the turbos revving and then quickly going through the gears so you don't get overwhelmed by the influx of power. Otherwise, the violence of accelerations quickly becomes untenable.

The soundtrack is muffled and intense. Not melodious, but that is rarely the case on a flat-cranked twin-turbo V8. Even the AMG GT's lost its charisma by switching to this architecture in the Black Series.

It’s better than a Senna. Still happy … Be careful with the choice of seats. The ultralight carbon buckets borrowed from the Senna forgive nothing over long distances. There is a lot of road noise, and with less insulation than a 720S, mechanical noise is reflected more in the cabin.

You don't lose space on board, however. Phones and other wallets can fit in pockets and there is always the back shelf. On the other hand, if you have checked the optional engine window, be careful what you store there: it is quick to scratch glass and carbon with a buckle or a zipper. Not sure that the window in question is essential, to tell the truth: it is too small to give a real overview of the engine. The front trunk is still there, and still very usable: 150 l is more than double that of a Ferrari SF90, which also offers no space behind the seats.

Moreover, consumption is almost reasonable. McLaren promises 12.3 L / 100 km in the combined cycle, but we have managed to stay below 11.5 L / 100 km in cruising. With the Senna and the drag of its huge fin, you could not expect less than 14 l, for example. The 765LT is not a downforce car and McLaren is not giving aero numbers.

This is an interesting question. Yes, but that doesn't have to be the feeling you get behind the wheel. Just because there is so much feedback from the steering and the suspension, you can feel so much micromotion that the car can seem frantic on the road.

It's the featherweight of the 765LT that makes such interactivity possible, which is more reminiscent of a Caterham or a Lotus than a Ferrari or a Porsche. Said like that, it looks like a compliment, except that the size is not that of a Caterham or a Lotus, while the power is three times greater … On bad surface, you have to take it upon yourself to sort out the info.

Usually, a good road sportswoman can make you feel comfortable. Proportionally, the more you pick up the pace, the more time it seems to give you. It is placed in your hands, the suspension is set on the right frequency, the steering struggles but does not convulse. And time slows down. Or more precisely, your brain gets to follow. With the 765LT, I often felt over-restrained, not because of the stupendous revolutions themselves, but because I didn't have the computing power to do it. My processor is no match for such a flow of information.

It's not just the number of posts, it's also that some are … vehement. You have to hold the steering firmly, and deal with an overactive suspension even in the most flexible mode. You have to slow down – really slow down, like when you're stuck behind a line of cars at 70 km / h, for example – so that this overabundance of feeling becomes a pleasure again. But you can imagine that this is not exactly the purpose of the 765LT …

I found this car quite trying. On a bumpy road (like our test in Snowdonia), we are always busy taming the car, juggling the traction, filtering the sensations to be paid attention. You have to be on the alert. It's not a car that adapts to your mood. More like the type who makes your chest grow and then yanks it off with a strip of wax.

Still, I will not forget it anytime soon, and that it allowed me to appreciate once again the benefits of a contained mass: the speed of reaction, the clarity of the communication, the grip, the braking (even if you have to go for the bite a little far for my taste).

The 600LT was quite similar on paper but because it was less complex and 150 hp less powerful, it was more usable on the road. And maybe nostalgia embellishes my memories of the 675LT, but for me it was the car, the one that could please any driver on any road. It took place without a second thought, with a suspension compromise offering both sharpness and serenity.

It's also hard not to talk about the formidable 720S again. Despite being three years old, it is still the most accomplished supercar on the market. The 765LT had to assert a different character, and it definitely does. It’s more comfortable on the road than the equally fast (if not faster) Senna, but its constant aggression can get boring. Intense: I think this adjective sums it up well. A bit like those passionate people who have interesting things to say, but are so engrossed in their subject that we prefer to hang out with them only in small doses. In short, like daily driver, forget. A 911 GT2 RS or a 488 Pista are much more livable.

Some will love this aggressiveness and excitement, which reminds me of the Ferrari f12tdf. But in my opinion, it's not just a matter of taste: an LT should have a wider range, and be fun even when conditions aren't ideal. I do recognize, however, that at € 331,357 before options and penalties, not only is the 765LT likely to be collected more than driven, but customers of this type of machine will inevitably have something more versatile in their garage. At least if they want strong emotions, they will be served.



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