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McLaren 675 LT Spider Review by Rob Eckaus

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Manic Limits

By Rob Eckaus

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Last year when the Powerball lottery hit $1 billion dollars, I sat down that night and spec’d out a dream car online. It just happened to be a McLaren 675LT Spider in the same blue color as the one I was able to review. There’s something about a Spider, in this case a hardtop convertible that has a strong appeal even when you have to protect yourself from the sun. This one is truly two cars in one, and as I discovered, more than just because of looks or catching a breeze.

This 675LT Spider is the owner’s fourth McLaren. He had good experiences with the 12C’s he owned and his P1 that I reviewed is somewhat famous, especially among Motor Trend readers. Being a fan of carbon tub (passenger compartment) convertibles, partly because the minor weight penalty for the roof coming off, the 675 LT is still a track oriented machine, said more so than their Ferrari 458 Speciale. Comparing to the 12C, which the 675 LT is an evolution of, the engine, engine tuning, transmission, and braking are all noticeably different and improved.

Also inevitable is a comparison to the wild McLaren P1. Leagues quicker with 903hp with better throttle response due to the hybrid system, the lighter 675 LT has a quicker turn-in and more grip. Of course the question of weight comes up. The owner’s experience is McLaren’s stated weights are spot-on, his P1 weighing 3300lbs, giving him no reason to doubt the 3,016 lbs stated by McLaren for the 675 LT Spider. This is a very light car by modern standards, especially combined with the output of the 3.8 liter twin turbo V-8 of 666hp. To put that into performance numbers, what has been reported in the quarter mile is low-mid 10s in the mid-upper 130mph range. Put it another way, if the NHRA observed it exceeding 135mph, McLaren could request a letter from the NHRA that that the observed vehicle was banned unless a safety cage was installed….

Acceleration is manic with a rush towards redline that makes your stomach go light and nearly instantly exceeds the speed limit with a mechanical roar properly placed behind you. A hard acceleration upshift cracks like a gunshot. The lateral grip available approaches the “No way!” internal meter in incredulity, the fully bolstered seat keeping occupants in place. The hydraulically controlled suspension has hardly any body roll and braking is just ridiculous, requiring checking for traffic behind you before hammering the pedal for a non-nose dive, torso-leaves-the-seat extreme deceleration.

The suspension, in all McLarens, widely considered superbly riding with the hydraulic system replacing the anti-roll bars. In the 3rd mode, called track, is incredibly stiff. We hit some visible bumps and they were definitely felt, but not heard at all. No crash, creak, thunk, nothing. It was weird and amazing not hearing the vehicle reaction, only feeling it.

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Entering the car, a button under the edge of the door engages the scissor lift opening very smoothly. It’s not a wide opening so enter butt first, then swing in the legs with knees bent. Pulling down the door requires very even effort from the top to bottom, an obvious attention to detail and superior design. The seat is very snug yet instead of feeling pinched, you settle and seemingly mold to it. It’s another example of one that I never adjusted once sitting in it, whether in height, back angle, bottom angle, etc.

In one of the videos during the top opening/closing process, the hardtop can observed storing neatly into a carpet lined box behind the passenger compartment in front of the engine bay. Driving with the top down at highway speeds was extremely pleasant, wearing a brimmed hat wasn’t an issue. The rear window also goes down, and the owner says this allows for more engine noise in the cabin when the top is up, which can be a treat.

It’s a different vehicle with the top up. The tire and road noise, thwacks from the pavement and gravel hitting the wheel wells are all heard. With the top down none of that is heard as if it all goes away. The hardtop may be the ultimate track weapon and seeing one with a roof scoop was way cool, but the Spider has got to be so much better off the track and more variety in experience provided.

Front trunk space is quite impressive, more than enough for a weekend. The owner said he likes the sound system and that it’s quite good. Another improvement reported versus past models is the infotainment system works much better than past units.

Negatives that I observed are few and far between. Getting in and out is rather difficult. And the engine cover/hood isn’t easily removed and doesn’t have an option to simply press or pull a release and lift it open. Those were my observations but the first wouldn’t stop me and the second is just to show it off. Despite all his track time, the lack of a limited slip differential has never been a problem. It’s not driven in inclement weather, uneven surface transitions are taken slowly and with the front axle lift system activated so slippage there isn’t noticed. Maybe exiting turn 11 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca might exploit the open differential but a mid-engine weight distribution and wide, extremely sticky tires also make up for an open differential When I asked the owner what negatives there were, he had an uncharacteristically long pause, which was the answer right there. This car is spectacular.

McLaren has brought to market a blazingly quick, extremely light super sports machine that is a borderline hypercar yet lighter and more powerful than both the Ford GT and Ferrari 488 GTB. With an MSRP of $372,600, versus the supposedly quicker lapping Ford GT, it is lighter, makes more power, probably was easier to obtain, and is a convertible that isn’t too cramped for two occupants. The styling is stunning with the top down and surprisingly the owner doesn’t have any photos with the top up, nor did I take any. Yet with the top down, it is a very livable hyper-exotic car with looks and performance to match. Now the even more powerful McLaren 720S has hit the market, presenting still another choice. And I still play the lottery.