By on March 28, 2016

McLaren 675 LT Front 3/4 on Pacific Coast Highway, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

2016 McLaren 675LT Coupe

3.8-liter DOHC V8, twin-turbocharged (666 horsepower @ 7,100 rpm; 516 pounds-feet @ 5,500-6,500 rpm)

Seven-speed dual-clutch Seamless Shift Gearbox (SSG)

16 city / 22 highway / 18 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

Base Price: $349,500

As Tested: $395,271

The rich are different. They have nicer things. – Leonard Schreiber, DVM

I try to avoid superlatives unless the object of said superlatives is, well, truly superlative. In this case, however, they may be applied without reservation. The McLaren 675LT is an extraordinary car, with performance capabilities exceeded by fewer than a handful of very limited production vehicles. Perhaps what makes it most extraordinary, though, is just how well it performs as an ordinary car.

Classified ads for supercars rarely contain significant odometer readings. Ferrari’s own surveys show their customers typically do not manage to cover 3,000 miles a year. Why? A local high-end car enthusiast once told me that most people who own those kinds of “weekend” cars typically own more than one, so none of them get used that much. Another possible reason is that even wealthy folks don’t like paying the five figure regular service charges that come when you start accumulating miles on an exotic car, not to mention how expensive they can be to repair when you try to daily drive them.

McLaren 675LT Side on Pacific Coast Highway, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

McLaren says that its customers report driving their McLarens about two to three times the miles that competitors’ cars get driven. After driving a 675LT on the canyons, freeways and surface streets of southern California, including in rush hour, I can believe that. There’s no back seat, so carpool duty is out, but there’s no reason why you can’t use it as a grocery-getter. There’s a parcel shelf behind the seats and enough room in the trunk up front for a few standard paper-or-plastic bags.

McLaren 675LT Rear 3/4 on Pacific Coast Highway, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

The 675LT even gets decent fuel economy. I averaged an indicated 18.9 mpg. My usage included some standing starts, enthusiastic city driving, a little bit of open freeway, some bumper-to-bumper rush hour stuff, and the canyon run. At times, driving normally, I was flirting with 20 mpg. That’s almost 50-percent better mileage than the Land Rover LR4 I reviewed.

McLaren 675LT Front on Pacific Coast Highway, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

The 675LT is the track focused version of what McLaren considers its midrange car, the $250,000 650S (bracketed by the entry level 570S and the P1 hypercar). It’s about 40-percent different from the 650S, with a front suspension derived from the McLaren P1. Different body panels and aerodynamic aids give the 675LT significantly more downforce than the 650. Much of that improved aero is due to a very serious splitter up front and a ground effects extractor out back. Combine those with the car’s low height and you’re going to need the on-board chassis lift system every time you want to enter a driveway apron or go over a speed bump. Even with the lift system, which lowers automatically at 35 mph, I still managed to scrape a few times. I presume the bib spoiler under the splitter is a wearable part.

The chassis lift is the only thing slow about the 675LT. I didn’t time it, but it needed the better part of a minute to raise. To save time and angry looks from other drivers, you might want to start raising the car before you arrive at the gas station or parking structure. Other than that one quirk, you can treat it like any other car. Well, any other car that is capable of higher performance than most race cars of less than a generation ago.

McLaren 675LT at Petersen Museum with doors open, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

In some ways you pay more for less — about 200 pounds less than the 650S, just under 3,000 pounds. It has lighter seats (with lightweighting holes), lightweight gas and brake pedals (with their own lightweighting holes), bare carbon on the floor, and minimal soundproofing. You do get more power — 666 horsepower (vs 641 for the 650S) — and better cornering.

McLaren 675LT at Petersen Museum with doors open, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

McLarens are exciting just standing still, but the real entertainment begins when you get behind the wheel, close the dihedral door, belt up, step on the brake, and press the Start button. The computers that control the twin turbo flat plane 3.8 liter V8 fire up the engine (the roots of which trace back to the Nissan VRH racing motor) and give it a blip of the throttle to let everyone enjoy the glorious sound. The slightly lopey idle when the engine is cold could never be mistaken for anything other than a V8. After a few seconds the idle smooths out, but at any speed the exhaust sounds fabulous. No matter the color, the 675LT is is not a discreet car.

The 675LT starts at $349,000 and this example had $50,000 worth of options, including air conditioning and a track monitoring system with three onboard cameras.

The standard AC delete drives home the fact that the 675LT is a track focused car, not a luxury car, though I doubt any get delivered without cabin cooling. Under the mats, the floor is bare carbon fiber, but the wide and tall sills of the carbon fiber tub are carpeted. The rest of the interior, including the steering wheel, is upholstered with premium Alcantara.

Again, it’s not a luxury car. It’s noisy. With so little soundproofing, you hear gravel hitting the belly pan as you drive. You also hear the big Pirelli P-ZERO Trofeo R tires thumping and grabbing the pavement. The engine’s radiators and cooling fans are just over your shoulders and you immediately know when they kick in. They also suck in debris like small bits of gravel and the odd plastic coffee cup lid.

McLaren 675LT debris, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

The interior is minimalist and just what you need to operate the car. Surprisingly there are a couple of cup holders, but they are located in front of and below the somewhat floating center stack, making them almost inaccessible. You’d spill your coffee. It took me a while of fumbling around to find the 12 volt tap to charge my phone, because it’s also on the back side of the pass-through center stack.

McLaren 675LT Interior, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Though not luxurious, the 675LT isn’t uncomfortable. The fixed back carbon seats are a little snug for my chubby tuchas, and ingress and egress is a bit of a chore, but after a couple of miles I settled in and felt pretty much at one with the car. I understand that McLaren offers larger seats if needed. Ergonomics when driving are superb. The carbon fiber shift paddles rotate with the manually-adjusted steering wheel. To save the weight of motors, the seats’ fore and aft adjustments are manual. The dual-clutch transmission is controlled by buttons and has no parking pawl, so you must remember to use the electronically controlled parking brake.

McLaren 675LT Interior, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Fit and finish were very good with the exception of a noticeable amount of orange peel in the paint on the top surface of the rear spoiler. Considering how well paint flows out on horizontal surfaces, that was surprising, though I later found out that the car that I drove was a pre-production validation car.

 

McLaren 675LT Seats, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

The strap with the emergency logo over the driver’s shoulder is for releasing the door should the electrical system fail.

There are three modes each for the drivetrain and suspension: normal, sport and track, all controlled with switchgear that makes me think of a mashup of Fender amplifiers’ “chicken head” knobs and mil-spec gear. Feeling that the normal setting for the suspension was a little bit soft, for the most part I kept things in sport mode and didn’t find the ride to be too stiff. I also kept the DCT in Drive, rarely using the paddles. I wanted to concentrate on driving — and besides, McLaren knows more about shifting than I do.

 

McLaren 675LT front wheel, brake, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Carbon ceramic brake discs and ultra-lightweight forged aluminum wheels help keep the curb weight of the 675LT under 3,000 pounds.

I was cautious while driving the 675LT on the unfamiliar mountain road loop recommended to me by Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire, but I was able to make good time through the canyons without going anywhere near the car’s limit. My friend Mr. Baruth may drive other people’s $400,000 cars at, or over, the limit, but I like to approach them with a little more common sense.

Truth is, you don’t have to push things to go fast. Steering was very neutral, with no real sense of understeer or oversteer. If the radius of the turn tightens, you just turn the wheel more and it simply goes where you point it. The 675LT’s steering is the quickest I’ve ever seen on a road car, just two turns lock to lock, and very precise. At 70 mph, a millimeter’s movement of the steering wheel’s rim changes the car’s path — though the car is not twitchy or darty at all. The steering is variably power assisted, with a feel and precision that is now the standard by which I will judge other cars.

McLaren 675LT instrument panel, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Driving the canyons in this car is the proverbial E-ticket ride. The comparison with amusement parks is deliberate. The McLaren corners so well that it’s sickening, literally. The G forces gave me motion sickness so bad that I had to stop a couple of times. Not wanting to make things worse, I headed down out of the mountains to the Pacific Coast Highway.

Unfortunately, the urge to purge came upon me at a point on the PCH where there was no shoulder on the right due to falling rocks. Fortunately, a small turnoff appeared on the ocean side of the road just as a break in oncoming traffic opened up and if there is any car capable of dive bombing, it’s the 675LT. I got the driver’s door swung up and out of the way just in time. I hope that my effluent didn’t violate any of California’s environmental regulations. The state has some beautiful places to be sick.

McLaren 675LT center stack, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Manually activating an automatic spoiler is the height of automotive douchebaggery, particularly when driving around town. However, I was driving someone else’s 666 horsepower, rear-wheel-drive car at 70 mph in the rain. I put up the spoiler to see if I could feel the difference and indeed the rear ended hunkered down a little, tightening up the grip noticeably.

McLaren 675LT Petersen low front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

The car handles so well that I really wasn’t giving the carbon ceramic brakes much of a workout, even in the mountains. Just to check them out I deliberately stopped for a couple of yellow lights while driving in the city. They’re a little bit noisy when cold, but they’re very effective and easily modulated.

 

McLaren 675LT door hinge, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Much of the 675LT’s structure is made of carbon fiber, but the doors articulate on massive metal castings.

It corners and stops well. How does it go? Like a four wheeled literbike. Given 666 horsepower, of course, one is tempted to make references to devilish levels of power. There is no turbo lag, just speed. The DCT shifts almost instantaneously and downshifting is accompanied by throttle blipping. A sport bike is the closest analogy that comes to mind. You know how on a motorcycle you can pass a vehicle by accelerating into a spot in traffic, something you can’t do with most cars? It can be done with the 675LT.

More impressive than the quoted standing start time of 2.9 seconds for 0-60 mph is how quickly the McLaren gets from normal freeway speeds to arrest-worthy speeds. Standing starts need to overcome inertia; rolling starts don’t. Seventy to 80 mph is nearly instantaneous. Sixty to a buck ten brings to mind images from space movies.

The 675LT is a wide car (though when the doors are open you can tell just how narrow the main carbon fiber tub is) but I didn’t feel uncomfortable in traffic. The front fenders arch right over the tires, so you know exactly where the car is positioned and where you are going. I could see more of the hood than I can in my 2015 Honda Fit. Visibility towards the rear is better than I expected. While the view through the center mirror is limited by the polycarbonate clear engine cover (and obscured even more when the spoiler is up), there are 3/4 windows behind you and very large side mirrors so blind spots aren’t the problem you’d think they’d be. If you’re worried that there’s a car in your blind spot, there’s always the go fast pedal. You’ll be there before they will.

When McLaren introduced the 675LT at last year’s New York Auto Show, they showed it in a beautiful dove grey color. The 675LT they loaned me was a bit more conspicuous: a bright — almost orange — red. I’m not used to complete strangers taking videos of me when I drive. When I pulled off the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu for photos with the Pacific’s surf in the background, a couple of Korean tourists stopped to take photos of the car, me and the car, and then one of each of them with me and the car.

McLaren 675LT with Korean Tourists, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

My disclaimer of “Not mine, not mine” didn’t seem to make a difference. In a town where Lamborghinis are common, the McLaren 675LT is still a rare sight. Just 500 coupes and 500 spyders will be made. You need a special car to attract attention in car-centric southern California. Right after I picked up my rental at the airport, I saw a Lamborghini Aventador and BMW i8 within seconds of each other. Teslas are almost as common as homeless folks with their grocery carts. This McLaren, however, continues to attract attention from everybody up to and including the Gallardo Spyder driver whose mojo was clearly impacted by having to share the road with a hat-wearing bearded fellow in a long-spoilered supercar.

It would be a shame, however, if someone bought a 675LT just to impress other people. It’s a truly extraordinary automobile.

Getting lost in the mountains put me ten miles past the 200 allotted to me for my test. The McLaren folks reassured me that it wasn’t a problem. Surprisingly, some McLaren press loans come back with fewer than the allotted miles. Lord, what fools these mortals be! As long as the total mileage (there was about 6,700 miles on the loaner when I got it) ends up less than planned, however, the folks at McLaren are not concerned. They told me that when it’s done as a press car, it will go back to the works at Woking and be completely refurbished before it is delivered to a customer who has already spoken for the car.

There are $400,000 demos? I was told that my loaner wasn’t one of the 500 serialized coupes, but rather one of five pre-production validation cars. How is selling a car like that legal? My guess is that the customer lives outside of the jurisdiction of the EPA or European regulators, likely someplace where said customer may be a member of a ruling elite. I’ll never likely be a member of the ruling elite, and don’t think I could ever get completely comfortable driving a $400,000 luxury car like a Rolls-Royce, but I could get used to driving a McLaren 675LT.

Disclaimer: McLaren provided the car, a tank of gasoline and insurance. I paid for my own transportation to and from Los Angeles just to be able to drive the 675LT. I have yet to find someone who doesn’t agree that I would have been a schmuck to not do so.

[Images: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars]

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view over at Cars In Depth. – Thanks for reading – RJS

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34 Comments on “2016 McLaren 675LT Review – Appreciation of an Extraordinary Automobile...”


  • avatar
    energetik9

    There are a few McLarens in my area. They are simply beautiful cars. Even more so in person.

    I’d love to explore the grip in that car. My car has Pirelli P-ZERO’s and I’ve never been that impressed. Some different tires might also reduce noise. At least a little…maybe. :)

    “I have yet to find someone who doesn’t agree that I would have been a schmuck to not do so.” Not at all. I would have gladly done so too, but I would have loved to have some track time mixed in.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    I have gotten used to the way the Mp4 looks… there’s a McLaren service center around where I am. However the 650/675/570 are just fussy looking cars seemingly designed by engineers and not artists (unlike the Pagani Lambo and Ferraris… the Italians are just better at that).

    However saying that, this car seems to be a step above the ‘entry’ supercars… like how jetfighters are above even Learjets.

    I would love to see a showdown between say a 540C and this.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Right now the Mclaren is my favorite car that I can’t afford.

  • avatar
    badhobz

    As much as i love these and the italian counterparts, i just cant think of any good reason to own one. Well maybe to use as some sort of show piece or a garage queen.
    Id rent one, but to own it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense even if you have money.

    Around town these would be utterly useless. You would be afraid to drive it anywhere because of miles, scratches, potential accidents, etc. You dont dare valet it, you wouldnt let your wife take it shopping,

    On the track, and lets be honest here, these exotics dont really do track days unless you have a team of dedicated engineers, mechanics, pit crews, and sponsorships. Your average rich guy might track it once or twice then run away afraid of the wear and tear + miles on the car.

    So where does that leave these exotics…. in the garage. Makes sense it only gets 3000 miles a year. The 1 or 2 days out of the month when its sunny, dry, you go for a spin, fill up the tank, and come straight back home all the while dodging people in beaters trying to cut you off getting an instagram photo. When it comes home, you wipe it off with a diaper and wax it so that you may stare it every time you come home.

    no thanks, i love them, but no thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      NeilM

      The reason to own one, other than the obvious lust factor, is that you have so much money that neither the price, nor any of the objections that badhobz enumerates, are even slightly relevant. Cars like this aren’t bought by people who save up until they can finally afford to get the car of their dreams, but by those who can (have their assistant) write a check for it without blinking.

      As for how they’re driven, I know someone who has a Lambo Gallardo, and now a Hurracán — as well. The Gallardo is now more than a decade old, has racked up numerous cross country trips, and has been regularly tracked. The new Hurracán was out on the track within its first few months of ownership.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    I’m curios about the design utility of the doors. They look cool, but does the unique opening style make the overall package heavier than conventional doors? If so I’m surprised they exist on a car where weight control is so otherwise stressed.

  • avatar

    CENTRAL SEATING or it ain’t no “McLaren”.

    • 0 avatar
      Von

      STILL HAS LESS HP THAN A HELLCAT! I’D RATHER GET A DOZEN OF THEM THAN THIS OVERPRICED GO KART.

      • 0 avatar
        energetik9

        “STILL HAS LESS HP THAN A HELLCAT! I’D RATHER GET A DOZEN OF THEM THAN THIS OVERPRICED GO KART”

        Easy on the caps. So what if it has less HP? The McLaren is still faster than the Hellcat and outperforms it in almost all competitive categories. It beats the Hellcat in 0-60 by just over a second. Raw horsepower by itself is like claiming more megapixels make a better camera.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    This car can probably lap McLaren’s F1 chassis if Australia is any indication.

  • avatar
    probert

    400K – the new evora sounds great and at around 100k it’s a far more affordable unaffordable car. I think I’d be happy.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I think we all need to give it up to Ronnie for going to California on his own dime to drive this.

    Respect.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I would totally use this to go to the Dandy Mart for Swiss Rolls.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Ronnie, you’d have been a schmuck not to schlepp your tuchas to SoCal for a free drive in this. Thanks for sharing the joy. These sell out before the first one is made, don’t they? Why they bother with press loaners is a mystery. A happy mystery.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Any time there’s a trim/paint issue, the car is “Oh pre-production! This isn’t the real thing!”

    Yet you’re selling it later to a real customer (in a kingdom without regs).

  • avatar
    MinPVD

    Near the end of last year my buddy bought an mp4-12c and I bought a 911c2s. His car has been in the shop for the last month. I feel kind of great with an extra 200k and the ability to actually drive my car. That being said, these things are beautiful. Sitting in the cockpit of one of these is like sitting in a space ship.

    The 540 they are going to release in China is definitely on my list of future purchases. Let’s see how many times my buddy’s car goes to the shop before his warranty expires.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I missed this one the first time around and just caught it linked from Jack’s post this morning. Pieces with pictures like this one at the top are usually race car hyperbole, hyper materialism, or both so I don’t click them. I should have known Ronnie would do better.

    Appreciation for an extraordinary review.


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