McLaren 675LT Spider first drive: Light as a feather, stiff as a board

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 4:14 PM

Drop-top variants were always softer, flimsier, heavier and slower than their more protective brethren. Today though, things are different. Most supercars have carbon fiber tubs that don’t necessity to be modified, strengthened or stiffened.

McLaren 675LT Spider first drive: Light as a feather, stiff as a board

McLaren sells out another; you still necessity to discover a way to drive it

Clipping the top off a car, super- or otherwise, doesn't generally make better driving dynamics, top speed, lap times and looks. Drop-top variants were always softer, flimsier, heavier and slower than their more protective brethren. Today though, things are different. Most supercars have carbon fiber tubs that don’t necessity to be modified, strengthened or stiffened. They just necessity few additional pounds for a mechanism to fold down the top. And so it's with the McLaren 675LT “Longtail” Spider, the latest (and sold out) six hundred sixty-sixth-hp ponder from the people at McLaren HQ in Woking, England.

Yes, like the P1 and the tough top 675LT, the Spider is already sold out. And this, from the company that says it needs to do more marketing, particularly in the U. S. If demand is an indicator, we think McLaren is doing just fine.

The 675LT Spider is named for its long spoiler, reminiscent of the first Longtail, which was the fastest version of the legendary McLaren F1. Love that car, the 675LT Spider has more power, less weight, and more aggressive aerodynamics, not just a lengthened rear wing.

Output from the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 is rated at 666 hp at 7.100 rpm and five hundred sixteen lb-ft of twist at fifth.500 rpm. In the German version of horsepower, pferdestarke, that's six hundred seventy-five PS, hence the name. A a dual-clutch, seven-speed Graziano gearbox sends power to the rear wheels. That voodoo magic powertrain is excellent for a 2.9-second sprint to sixty-two mph, 8.1 seconds to one hundred twenty-four miles per hour and a top speed of two hundred three miles per hour with the top down. Better obtain some superglue for that wig.

The 675LT Spider is two hundred twenty pounds lighter than the roofless 650S and the two share all but 33-% of their parts. It only gains eighty-eight pounds over the tough top. Dry wt comes in at 2.800 pounds; add another hundred or two for fluids and fuel. Power to wt is an impressive 4.2 pounds per horse.

Only thirty percent of those two hundred twenty pounds was taken from the chassis. McLaren found seventy-seven more pounds to axe in the body, forty-four from the interior and twenty-two from the powertrain. It took more than ten pounds from the electrical system!

The 675LT Spider is twenty-seven % stiffer in front and sixty-three % stiffer in back than the 650S. It’s wider and lower too, and has a faster steering rack -- something we instantly noticed in the noiseless Scottish backcountry where we certified a Solis yellow edition of the new Longtail Spider.

It doesn’t stay quiet. Firing up the 3.8-liter V8 brings on a clatter of metallic engine parts and a low thrum from the open rear window behind the seats, and it only gets louder from there. The 675LT Spider somehow both roars and drones on the road. Wind noise seems maximized by the creases in the folding tough top, making it tough to speak to your passenger whether on the throttle or not. The tone of the exhaust note seems fixed, only getting louder or quieter as we blip through the gears. At low rpm it hums loudly, at about 2.500 it gets a bit softer -- obtain your conversations in now -- and then bellows after that. But this car isn’t a GT, it’s not made for European road trips or Pacific Northwest jaunts. Obtain a Jaguar if you wish something that’ll eat up hwy miles. The lighter, stiffer, faster 675LT Spider is made for mountain grades, the back roads and the racetracks.

It’s a small slippery in the mid- to northern Scottish countryside; even when it’s sunny, the ground stays moist from the gray rain clouds passing through. We do obtain to go flat-out in spots and when we do, we can tell where your hypothetical $372.six hundred goes.

In every gear, at any rpm, when we thrust the weighted gas pedal, the 675LT gets up and runs love a greyhound on fire. Grab a downshift for dramatic flair and right when you pass a few elderly folks on vacation, grab an upshift. A single shotgun blast erupts from the rear end, sending invisible shock waves across the brown-but-greening hills, confusing sheep and sending smaller animals underground.

When McLaren told us that both paddles will do upshifts and downshifts, we were livid. Thankfully, before we spouted off about why that’s incorrect and bad, the company well-known that both paddles are made from one piece of carbon fiber on a rocker switch. Draw back on the left for downshift, back on the right for upshift. All is right with the world. But, if you necessity it, you can flick the left one forward for an upshift, and the right one forward for downshift. That’s just adding value, we suppose.

The 675LT has normal, sport and track driving modes for both the powertrain and the handling -- both can be adjusted independently. The handling switch controls the dampers and steering wt while the powertrain adjusts the engine and transmission. In normal mode, the seven-speed gearbox cuts fuel for a split second between shifts, McLaren calls it cylinder cut. In sport mode it uses ignition cut, adopted from Formula One, which sees a momentary slice of the spark on shifts. That’s when you obtain the huge whip crack sound and finally “inertia thrust” which “harnesses the built up kinetic energy to deliver an impulse of torque as the following gear is engaged, ensuring number drop in performance as the driver moves up through the gears.” All of them are in the millisecond range, so you can’t really go wrong.

McLaren’s ProActive Chassis Control suspension with active damping keeps everything marble-countertop flat in the bends, while lift and dive are basically nil. The dampers are connected to a gas reservoir which can amp up the stiffness when required and tone it down when going quick in a straight line. The double wishbones and uprights are derived from the even more extreme P1 hypercar, giving the Spider a high-strung driving feel. The 675LT handled bigger potholes surprisingly well, even in sport mode, and never really made us wince in the cabin. McLaren did far with the now-unnecessary mechanical antiroll bars, which both reduces wt and increases wheel articulation.

Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires are standard, 19-inch in front, 20-inch in back, as are wagon-wheel-sized, unfadeable carbon ceramic brakes with a stiff pedal that takes a tiny muscle to plant down. The 675LT also gets the company’s “brake manage” system, which can grab the interior rear brake in a turn, helping point the nose towards the apex.

Now, forget about all of that because this car’s killer app is the airbrake. At some point, when driving this car, you’ll be in triple digits speeds feeling confident in your coordination. Something will happen, a bird, a cop, a kitten, and you’ll go to the brakes hard. That’s when the snowboard spoiler goes vertical, catching all of the nearby air and dropping speeds to something a small more manageable. It gets light in the nose, just for a second, but the spoiler drops well before speeds that you’d necessity to obtain around a corner. It’s huge sufficient to obstruct the all rearview mirror and we hit it tough a handful of few times just to look it work.

The suede-covered steering wheel is soft in the hand and has a kind quantity of heft to it. The hydraulic system is electrically boosted, but if we'd to guess by feel, we couldn’t have told you that. It feels very analog. Putting an even finer point on it, we just drove a few other supercars, including a few of this one’s competitors and found the steering perceive lacking compared to the 675LT. We’d declare something love the all-wheel-drive Audi R8 is excellent for beginners, but you wish some experience before piloting this British beast.

The cabin is mostly shadowy and covered in suede and matte carbon fiber. The central screen, about the size of an iPhone6 Plus vertically, seems a tiny tiny compared to most cars today and it’s a small wonky to use. One central button brings you back to the residence screen, but it takes few presses to obtain back to the music area and pass a song if you’re looking at navigation. We’re riding in the no-cost, suede-covered race seats for this test, which don’t have an adjustment for height. If you’re a shorter driver you’ll have to select the heavier electric jobs to obtain up over the tall central tach. There are a few different versions of the race seats, but at 5’ ten” and one hundred sixty pounds these were perfect for us. They’re supportive in the lower back, and have stiff bolsters to keep you in space at the hips and at the shoulders. We didn’t obtain any behind numbness over six or so hours, but be warned; there is really number way to obtain in this thing gracefully. Blame the vertical doors. We'd to go in butt first, and swing our legs over the bolster, some McLaren execs has obviously been practicing, swinging in without getting hung up.

Lastly, we love the one giant windshield wiper, but spraying off the dirt while driving sent all of the blue fluid into the cabin through the open windows and down the suede doors. Seems love horrible engineering, or maybe the wind was just too strong. A better solution? Obtain out of the rain and road spray in Scotland, this is a convertible, dammit.

The 675LT Spider starts at $372.600 and doesn’t go up too much from there, unless you start customizing from the McLaren Special Operations team. That’s still a bit more than the latest Ferrari four hundred eighty-eight GTB Spider, but it's also a full step more aggressive than the GTB. It’s also nearly 600 pounds lighter than the GTB, so it feels a excellent bit faster. But does it declare the same thing (to onlookers) as a Ferrari does? Probably not.

Maybe that’s what McLaren is talking about when it says it's a marketing problem. This car is every bit as super as the ones we go to first in our minds, but for some reason it doesn’t have the cache exterior the hyper-enthusiast community. A small more F1 in the U. S. might assistance that, as would introducing a few new cars before they sell out.

On the other hand, selling every car you make? That’s better than the alternative, and what we call a excellent problem, here in the business.

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