McLaren 765LT and McLaren 620R in the test

The YouTube video platform is a special world. The video of the mega-fast Hockenheim lap of the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series (1:43.3 min) was online on the sport auto-YouTube channel for barely a minute when a user named “Tyran Mathurin” commented: “I expect the McLaren 765LT to be even faster.” On that, the snowballing of comments started.For another self-proclaimed YouTube expert, it was immediately clear that the 765LT would even crack the current Hockenheim record holder McLaren Senna. In the digital world, the role of favorite is quickly distributed. But what about in reality? Today the new McLaren low-flyer has to show whether it lives up to expectations.

It smells of motorsport

In the top model of the Super Series, a four-liter V8 biturbo with 765 hp meets masses of carbon fiber.

To ensure that the 765LT doesn’t have to run circles around the GP circuit in Baden all by itself, the test team from Woking brought along another lateral dynamics toy in the form of the McLaren 620R. How could it be any different for a squad with a Formula 1 background: In addition to tools and tire sets in abundance, as well as the two service vehicles, there are also quite naturally two “T-Cars” as replacements in the 40-ton truck from England.

If the British sports car brand is already making such a big splash today, it’s impossible for me to just turn up on my own. Given the power-to-weight ratio and dream car character, companions from the editorial team are quickly found. Colleague Jens Dralle, Head of Test & Technology at auto motor und sport, will be accompanying the track test for our big sister magazine. Welcome, Jens.

It’s a good fit – Jens and I are the last two remaining Mohicans in the automotive department of Motor Presse Stuttgart who have a racing license. You don’t need a license to drive the two top McLaren sports cars, but there’s a strong whiff of motorsport under the guise of road traffic licensing today.

Into the fireproof rompers, off we go with the 765LT. A four-liter V8 biturbo with 765 hp meets masses of carbon fiber here. Carbon and Alcantara dominate the pulpit-like interior – pure motorsport flair. McLaren has always been good at racetrack-focused ergonomics. The carbon full bucket seats (optional in the Clubsport Pro Pack) familiar from the McLaren Senna, with their low seating position and gripping lateral support, immediately give even Ottonormals a bit of a feeling as if their last name were Norris or Sainz.

Light, lighter, McLaren

McLaren 765LT, Interieur

In the interior, it’s not just the 3.35-kilogram bucket seats that save ballast, but also the absence of carpets and the use of lightweight Alcantara.

Pit light green, start clear. What else counts on the GP circuit at Hockenheim besides engine power and tires with good grip? Traction and driving stability from the tight corners to take as much speed as possible onto the straights.

Even after two warm-up laps, the tires of the 765LT are still not really up to temperature. At the front axle the Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R MC1 is already biting well with the Hockenheim asphalt, while the grip at the rear axle is still abruptly torn off during jerky turning or under load.

Let’s give the tires another warm-up lap and in the meantime reveal what distinguishes a 765LT from the familiar 720S. According to McLaren, the LT model (“LT” stands for “Longtail”, as is typical for McLaren) is supposed to weigh 80 kilos less than the “normal” 720S. We tested the promise in advance with a full 72-liter tank on the scales, of course. The result: at 1,404 kilograms, the 765LT is “only” 42 kg lighter than the 720S with Track Pack and optional lightweight components, which was tested in sport auto 3/2020.

The LT diet’s slimming program is nevertheless highly interesting. The new alloy wheels together with titanium wheel bolts are said to save 22 kilograms. As standard, the 765LT wears aluminum hood, fenders and doors. Optionally, all the above-mentioned components are available in carbon – and our test car naturally has them on board. The license plate holder, front splitter, bumpers, side sills, rear wing and diffuser are also made of carbon fiber.

In the interior, it’s not just the super-light bucket seats that save ballast (the carbon-fiber seat shells weigh just 3.35 kilos each), but also the absence of carpets and the use of lightweight Alcantara. As standard, the 765LT does not carry air conditioning or an audio system (but they are optional, as in our test car). To further save weight, the thickness of the windshield and side windows has been reduced, while the glazed C-pillars and rear window are made of polycarbonate.

Finally, one dietary measure should be mentioned that looks damn sexy and also likes to spit flames in the 765LT: the all-titanium exhaust system, which is 3.8 kilos lighter than the 720S exhaust, with its central (!), high-mounted (!!) four (!!!) tailpipes. The poisonous biturbo hissing under full load already sets the signature under the sales contract in thoughts. A triple wow! And does it smell like a new Hockenheim best? The 765LT flies through the north curve at 136 km/h. Then braking late for Turn 2, turning briskly into the right-hand bend and accelerating with plenty of traction through the following left-hand bend out onto the Parabolika – that’s how the next combination of bends should ideally feel. But that’s not how it feels in the 765LT.

If you turn in briskly with the electrohydraulic steering, which incidentally offers fabulous feedback, the rear axle abruptly loses grip. There is also the threat of a sudden loss of grip when accelerating out of the car. Driving stability and mechanical grip are not perfect in the 765LT. It’s already clear in Turn 2 that the 765LT won’t come close to the AMG GT Black Series in terms of time, and certainly not to the high-flying Senna. Even more: The 720S with Track Pack and Trofeo tires already tested scored in the described corner combination with more driving stability during turn-in and subsequently better traction.

The power oversteer of 765 hp, which doesn’t quite start without turbocharging, not only makes for sweaty palms, but also costs valuable tenths of a second, especially on the aforementioned section of the track, because not as much momentum can be carried over when accelerating out onto the parabolic. So it’s not surprising that the 765LT is only 1 km/h faster than the 720S in the top speed measurement on the parabolica at 282 km/h despite its extra power of 45 hp. Complaining at a high level: Only the Senna was faster here so far with 286 km/h.

Brake master 765LT: 17.8 m/s²

McLaren 765LT, Exterieur

Braking stability is also very good thanks to the good ABS control and the airbrake function. The deceleration value of 17.8 m/s² qualifies for the Champions League.

Sixth gear, full load – the hairpin bend is approaching. Braking, four tugs on the left shift paddle, down to second gear. It’s amazing how quickly the 765LT hammers down the gears while the exhaust roars – the gear changes are 15 percent faster than on the 720S, whose seven-speed DKG was already among the fastest in the class.

On this stretch, the 765LT also earns high praise with its late braking point and massive deceleration. In addition to the good ABS control, the McLaren-typical airbrake function, i.e. the rear wing that rises steeply when braking, also plays a big part in this. Braking stability is very good. The deceleration value qualifies for the Champions League: 17.8 m/s²! So far, only one car has been better – the high-flyer Senna with 19.6 m/s².

However, the well controllable brakes and the brutal deceleration only help to a limited extent if the driving stability is otherwise lacking. The pointed front axle, the moderate mechanical grip on the rear axle and the nervous load change reactions – not good prerequisites for using the 25 percent more total downforce than in the 720S in the fast right-hand bend in front of the Mercedes grandstand. At 191 km/h, the cornering speed of the 765LT here is only 1 km/h faster than that of the 720S. With massive traction problems, the 765LT subsequently gives away a lot of time again in Turns 8, 9 and 10. Due to its better balance, cornering speed in Turn 10 was 5 km/h higher with the 720S than the 765LT.

Motodrom entrance, Sachskurve, dip, south corner – even in the last part of the lap, the unbalanced balance of the 765LT has to be kept in check with a lot of concentration on the gas pedal and repeated steering corrections. Easy to drive? No, even with traction control-like support of the ESC Dynamic mode – not to mention “ESC off”. Actually, the question of whether the 765LT is faster than the 720S with Track Pack and Trofeo-R tires is superfluous: At 1:46.2 minutes, the LT model is a clear seven-tenths of a second slower.

McLaren 765LT, Interieur

Christian Gebhardt, test editor: The 765LT goes like hell. But the traction would have to be better for an even faster lap time.

Pit stop, driver change – now Jens climbs into the LT cockpit. Laps later in the pits, he looks just like me after my 765LT excursion: sweaty, as if the fast wash cycle had raged through the McLaren cockpit.

In the best Jürgen Emig Tour de France memory style, the driver is interviewed while still in the saddle after crossing the finish line. Jens, how do you feel? “Ui, jui, jui, I say. This thing has pressure up to the hilt. I crossed the line more often than I wanted to. But the fact is, as all McLaren cars can do, the steering is sensational. The pedal feel of the brakes is also awesome. The fact that you didn’t manage a faster time than with the 720S makes sense to me now. It’s adrenaline at a very high level,” says Dralle, describing his impressions of the 765LT.

Thank you, Jens, for the interview. I’ll just jump into the 620R now. Since we’re running out of track time on the test day, today we’ll just give a brief introduction to the GT4 road-legal double, which is limited to 225 units. The front apron with flics and splitter (somewhat shortened for road use), the front hood with its distinctive air vents, and the rear end with its ragged diffuser and triple-adjustable rear wing – externally, the 620R is strongly reminiscent of the McLaren 570S GT4 race car.

Already in the north curve, the race car copy with license plate makes it clear to you that it won’t be as sweaty here as in its bigger brother, the 765LT. The 620R wears the adjustable GT4 racing suspension, whose dampers are adjustable in rebound and compression. Firmer springs, stiffer bars and Uniball dome mounts complete the package. And what about the balance of the 620R, which is also equipped with Trofeo R tires? In direct comparison to the 765LT, the front axle in the 620R is not quite as pointed, but is tuned with a noticeable tendency toward understeer. And the rear axle? It behaves more stable.


The search for driving stability

McLaren 620R, Exterieur

With a good mix of mechanical and aerodynamic grip, the 620R conveys a lot of confidence at the limit. The slight understeer is mitigated by the rear axle.

Turn 2/approaching parabolic: You can’t set the braking point in the 620R quite as late as in the 765LT. Braking into the corner and turning in on the brakes is nevertheless more successful here, as there are no yawing reactions afterwards. The slight understeer is alleviated by the rear axle.

Incidentally, its 620-hp 3.8-liter V8 biturbo responds somewhat more spontaneously than the twin-turbocharged four-liter V8. While the torque punch in the 765LT strikes with the smoothness of a Klitschko straight after a second’s thought, the 620R scores with its more homogeneous power delivery. Result: You can step on the gas earlier here. The lower power is also accompanied by better traction. Under load, the rear only pushes slightly. The power oversteer doesn’t set in abruptly, but with a predictable transition.

Parabolica: While the 620R reaches a maximum of 259 km/h on the parabolica, its base named 600LT with 600 hp rated power stormed here with 271 km/h. On the start-finish straight, too, the 620R is 5 km/h slower than the 600LT once was. Tracking: The 620R is said to generate 85 kilos more total downforce at 250 km/h compared with the 600LT. The downforce plus clearly swallows up top speed. In addition, the previously tested 600LT with a measured 618 hp (Supertest 9/2019) was well in the lining. Braking at the hairpin: earlier braking point and more unsteady ABS control than in the 765LT. The deceleration value of 14.2 m/s² is nevertheless good. When downshifting, one wishes for the snappy gear changes of the 765LT. The 620R-DKG shifts down the gears a bit more comfortably.

Right-hand bend in front of the Mercedes grandstand? Goes almost full speed in fourth gear at 193 km/h. Noticeable understeer here as well. However, with a good mix of mechanical and aerodynamic grip, the 620R conveys much more confidence at the limit in this high-speed bend than the 765LT. Understeer also accompanies the 620R performance in the stadium corners of the Motodrom all the way back to the start-finish straight. At the time, the 600LT was noticeably more agile with more neutral handling. And the lap time? 1:49.4 min in the 620R to 1:48.9 min in the 600LT. In view of the understeer and the lower top speed values, the half-second slower lap time is not surprising.

It has to be said so clearly: Both the set-up of the oversteering 765LT and the understeering 620R are not record-breaking today. The closing words of my colleague Jens sum it up perfectly: “The truth lies somewhere in between.”


Yes. It brings more power and more power is always good.

No. That brings more weight and more weight is always bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *