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McLaren 765LT engines, drive and performance

2020 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 5 out of 55.0

Written by Adam Binnie Published: 2 October 2020 Updated: 2 October 2020

  • Even more power than the 720S
  • Increase in straight line speed
  • Soundtrack turned up to eleven

Like all McLaren models the 765LT uses a twin-turbocharged V8, and its Super Series denomination means it uses Woking’s larger 4.0-litre unit called M840T. This is the same flat-plane-cranked, dry-sumped engine from the 720S, but with some very specific LT upgrades.

Power is up to 765hp (hence the name) and 800Nm of torque, which is a lot, and is largely down to increased boost from the turbos. Software and hardware upgrades have been brought in to make the engine cope with this – including a set of forged aluminium pistons, the three-layer head gasket from the Senna, and an additional fuel pump.

As a result the 765LT shaves a tenth off the 720S’s 0-62mph time, meaning the benchmark sprint now falls in 2.8 seconds, or the same time as a P1 or Senna. From there it just gets quicker though, reaching 124mph nearly a second faster than the 720S, and only two tenths behind the P1 and Senna.

You can’t really convey the speed with numbers though – the way the 765LT gathers pace is alarming at road legal speeds and equally violent beyond. You can thank a weight saving of 80kg for this, plus shorter gearing that means the engine spins up ferociously to the redline.

McLaren 765LT driving front 2020

That’s a good thing because although only minimal, there is a tangible amount of turbolag that’s best avoided by keeping the revs in the sweet spot. Do so and the power delivery is immediate and urgent, aided by seamless upshifts that turn back-thumpingly fierce on the way back down.

Also helping enhance the experience is a full titanium exhaust that delivers a spine-tingling note and claims a weight reduction of 40% over the old item. It also features a very in-your-face quad pipe exit that sticks out of the bumper and looks very distinctive indeed.

Overall the 765LT sounds furious – although not particularly tuneful or soul-stirring, but angry, raw and metallic. This is enhanced by extra stiff engine mounts that transmit all sorts of vibration through the carbon tub and bucket seats.

McLaren 765LT exhausts 2020


  • Incredible stopping power
  • Lots of grip but involving feel
  • Brilliant steering and traction control

Mechanical changes for this car include a slightly faster steering rack, which feels brilliantly precise and feeds back all sorts of information about the road surface, plus a 5mm drop in the front ride height and 6mm wider track.

However, the most notable elements of the McLaren 765LT’s handling package are the brakes – capable of hauling the car up from 124mph in 108 metres, some 25 metres shorter than the 720S. They’re from the McLaren Senna and you can also optionally specify that car’s special carbon ceramic discs for an extra cost, in order to further improve stopping power and stamina.

The calipers are machines from a single block so the pedal feel is fantastic, and a special duct directs cooling air around the pads to help keep temperatures down on a track day. You’ll also notice the rear wing popping up under heavy braking, to create extra drag and also to squash the tyres into the tarmac, increasing the effectiveness of the rear brakes.

McLaren 765LT driving side 2020

Next most impressive is the grip generated in fast corners by the 765LT’s aero – this is responsible for finding more traction for the Trofeo R tyres and includes a new front splitter, bumper, and floor, plus side skirts, and a redesigned rear bumper, rear diffuser and ‘Longtail’ active rear wing.

These are all made from carbon fibre and add up to 25% more downforce than the 720S. As a result the car feels incredibly composed in a fast corner, and you can really lean on the power on the way out. In slower turns it feels easier to break traction but being basically bolted into the chassis means the limit of adhesion is communicated with incredible clarity.

Helping matters further is a clever traction control system that (in the raciest mode at least) works away in the background rather than noticeably stepping in to save the day. McLaren calls this ‘hero mode’, and that’s exactly how it makes you feel. It’s not infallible, and we’d certainly have held back a bit more on a damp surface, but on a dry racetrack the 765LT is just the right side of wild.