Starred Track [COTY2015] : McLaren 675LT Drive [review]
The styling of the 12C, nee MP4-12C, polarised opinions, especially when news broke that the subsequent 'entry' models, such as the Sports Series 540C/570S, would also adopt P1-esque styling.
Then came the 650S, which inherited the P1's 'black swan' headlights, but pretty much retained the 12C's back-end.
And now we have the 675LT, an ultra-limited edition that to our minds, is exactly what the 12C/650S should have been from the very start, in terms of both looks and performance.
This is the only one of our COTY winners that we drove exclusively on the track, alongside its stable-mates the 540C, 570S and 650S.
We're quite happy our outing with the 675LT was at the Sepang F1 Circuit, because this meant we didn't need a long familiarisation period and could start attacking the circuit and getting to grips with its prowess sooner than had we been on a new track.
The performance was gobsmacking, because the 675LT stood out not just in terms of aesthetics but more importantly, fluid, track-honed dynamics.
The model name is derived from the engine's output (675PS) and 'LT' for 'Longtail', a nod to the fastest version of the F1 – not the Formula One GP, but the McLaren F1 GTR Longtail – from more than 20 years ago.
The differences are most distinctive towards the rear three-quarters with the Longtail silhouette and round tailpipes, because front-wise, you'll need to know what you're looking for to pick out the front winglets, side sills and prominent side intakes.
Apart from winding up the output of the twin-turbo'd 3.8-litre V8 to 675hp/700Nm (the engine has its own unique M838TL code) and the calibration of the chassis to properly utilise the engine's newfound punch, the 675LT has also been put through a thorough weight-loss regime.
Some 100kg has been shed from McLaren's track-beast with even more extensive use of carbonfibre and lightweight components for the chassis, powertrain and interior.
The 675LT is shod in Ultra Lightweight forged alloy rims as standard, currently the lightest design offered by McLaren, which save a combined 800g over the previous lightest design offered – you can see the lightweight ten-spoke wheels in the group car photos, but the car we were hammering around the Sepang F1 Circuit had the five-spokes 'star' rims.
It's no-nonsense in the cabin and you can quickly tell where the 675LT's priority lies, as the occupants are snugly ensconced in carbonfibre-shell Alcantara bucket seats, which really hold you in place when you're pulling serious g around the circuit.
Compared to the 650S, the 675LT rides lower, features widened front and rear tracks, as well as enhanced aero that allow it to maximise the car's potential.
Not only that, it gets a 50 per cent larger 'longtail' Airbrake (in painted carbonfibre) than the 650S, which actuates when it senses more downforce is required, as opposed to merely under hard braking.
The LT doesn't just trump the 650 by 25hp, because we're also told more than 50 per cent of the engine components are bespoke to the engine, including the turbochargers and lightweight titanium exhaust system with its round tail-pipes; we feel the naturally dirty finish of titanium only adds to the fight club brawler nature of the 675LT.
The 650S is no slouch but even then, the difference between the 675LT to that is staggering.
In a nutshell, the 675LT brings the insanity to a whole'nother level, with engine, chassis, brakes and aero working together to create a fiery, feel-some Molotov cocktail that is on fire the moment the tyres touch the track.
As we join the circuit from the pits for the orientation lap, we quickly notice the urgency to the acceleration that makes the 650S seem almost sanguine.
Then you come to the first corner and realise how incisive the steering is, especially when you're marvelling at the fluidity of the chassis as you tackle a series of corners.
The 650S may be fast, but the 675LT's pace is blistering and it feels shockingly alive when driven in anger, almost as though it has been galvanised to frenetic life by the Emperor's Force bolts.
Your hackles tingle as you explore the car's brake-corner-accelerate limits, which are high enough to make you tear and gasp for breath.
The added downforce and stability from the intelligent longtail Airbrake not only lets you brake later and deeper into a corner, but also deploys as you're cresting an elevation at speed.
Such tarmac-shredding speeds mean there's less time to plan an attack, as you're already sighting far far ahead to plot the fastest route through.
However, it's not just about fast and soulless either, because the level of communication between man and machine is near telepathic, and the driver always feels plugged-into the scalpel-sharp instrument of intense pain and pleasure that is eager and willing to do his bidding, much like the control a Dark Lord of the Sith exercises over his apprentice...
Engine: 3799cc, V8, twin-turbo
Transmission: 7spd SSG dual-clutch
Top speed: 330km/h
Fuel consumption: 11.7l/100km