Success in motorsport can be cruelly fleeting, such is the pace of innovation. Even the leading teams must evolve to survive, which is why in 1997, just two years after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, McLaren produced a radically different F1 GTR race car, the legendary ‘Longtail’.

The McLaren F1 GTR ‘Longtail’ was famous for, and easy to spot by, its hugely extended rear bodywork. But that was far from the whole story. A raft of mechanical and aerodynamic changes resulted in an F1 GTR that was lighter, stronger and more focused than even the legendary 1995 Le Mans winner. It’s this spirit that is channelled with the new 675LT, the most track-focused, yet road legal, McLaren series production model to date.

Circling the 675LT as it hunkers down in the pit lane at Silverstone race circuit in England, the changes wrought on the McLaren 650S that serves as a base are subtle when measured in millimetres, but very effective in changing the mood of the car. At the front, the 675LT sits 20mm lower to the tarmac and there are new winglets at either side of a significantly more aggressive nose and splitter to direct air into the rear radiators. The track, both front and rear, is 20mm wider, and the entire rear bodywork is unique to the 675LT, with twin circular tailpipes housed in a mesh rear fascia sandwiched between a new full-width ‘Longtail’ spoiler and enlarged rear diffuser.

But it’s only when you drill deep into the technical makeup of the 675LT that you appreciate just how much this car has changed. Those wheels aren’t merely handsome, they’re actually the lightest design ever offered by McLaren, and even lighter than those fitted to the McLaren P1™. The aerodynamic changes aren’t simple design tweaks, but help improve downforce by a massive 40 percent. Half of the components that make up the 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine are new, and the engineers at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England, have managed to cut 100kg from the kerb weight.

Removing any weight from what was already a featherlight car was a tall order, and meant analysing every component. As a result the new crossover exhaust manifold and the wheel bolts (the latter cleaving away a crucial 780g of unsprung weight) are made from titanium, while the polycarbonate engine cover saves 1.7kg over the glass equivalent. New body panels, including every single one aft of the B-pillar, is constructed from carbon fibre, as is the ‘Longtail’ airbrake, which is now lighter despite being 50 percent larger. Even the wiring harness gave up 1.2kg.



Easing down the pit lane in preparation for our maiden lap, the McLaren 675LT already feels very different from previous Super Series models, giving credence to the engineers’ claim that a third of the parts are new. The steering has a quicker ratio and a more positive, meatier feel as you twist the wheel away from centre, evident even at these lower speeds.

‘Improved driving enjoyment was a priority,’ McLaren’s Executive Director of Product Development, Mark Vinnels explains later. ‘Not just when driving at 100 percent, but throughout the car’s entire performance envelope, from town to track.’

Squeeze the right pedal as the last trace of pit wall recedes and the extra punch of the 675LT does its best to emboss the carbon fibre racing seats with an imprint of your spinal column. The 675LT feels shatteringly rapid, demanding the next of the SSG seven-speed dual-clutch transmission’s ratios almost as soon as the existing one has engaged. To 62mph (100km/h), the 675LT posts a 2.9 second time, a tenth quicker than the 650S. But stretch the criteria to 124mph (200km/h), which takes the new-generation ‘Longtail’ 7.9 seconds, and it pulls out a significant 0.5 second lead.

The 100kg diet plays an important part in that trick, the new M383TL engine, another, and together they imbue the 675LT with the best power-to-weight ratio of any car in the class. Based on the 3.8-litre twin turbo engine that powers the 650S, but with 50 per cent new components, the V8 now produces an additional 25PS for a 675PS (666bhp) total, while torque climbs to 700Nm (516lb ft). But beyond simply the numbers, the entire character of the engine has changed. Enhanced with lightweight internals to maximise response, its picks up and sheds revs seemingly instantly at the merest brush of throttle.



Flicking through Abbey corner, leading into the new section of Silverstone unveiled in 2010, the chassis feels equally responsive; a combination of sticky Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R tyres and suspension geometry inspired by the McLaren P1™ provides huge mechanical grip and even better body control. At speeds as low as 70mph, the aerodynamic package is providing meaningful downforce and on circuit in the Track handling mode, where we’re often touching double that speed, it’s fascinating to catch sight of the ‘Longtail’ airbrake constantly adjusting its angle to suit the situation.

Unsurprisingly, the 675LT never feels less than reassuringly stable, yet it also feels so alive, sending a stream of messages through the seat and steering wheel to keep you constantly engaged and informed. It’s that communication that gives you the confidence to switch off the new ESC stability system, which now features its own button rather than being linked to the position of the rotary Handling dial.

Rolling back into the pits, we review our performance, as recorded on the standard on-board McLaren Track Telemetry (MTT) system, and available to view on the multimedia system, or downloadable for more serious consideration later. It’s the kind of technology that’s both fun and useful, no matter what your level of driving ability, just as the 675LT is a car that’s as accessible to inexperienced drivers as it is satisfying for experts. Only 500 owners will experience that because the McLaren 675LT borrows one more trait from the original McLaren F1 GTR ‘Longtail’: exclusivity.





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