Featured: The McLaren 675LT Was My First Supercar Experience

The McLaren 675LT Was My First Supercar Experience

By Bryan Green
January 21, 2016

Editor’s Note: While we don’t typically feature spanking new cars here on our pages, we were offered the chance to spend some seat time with the Lime Green monster you see above.  Bryan Green is the newest member of our Petrolicious team.

Photography by Ted Gushue

I’ve driven some fast cars in my life, but nothing like the McLaren 675LT*.

Needless to say, getting the chance to drive the 675 ‘Longtail’—a car limited to a production run of only 500 vehicles and the closest thing in performance to the top-of-the-line P1—is immediately the most astounding and almost overwhelming experience.

Upon sitting in the carbon tub, I instantly felt at home. Even as a passenger, I found the seats were a perfect fit for my frame, and the ride was surprisingly comfortable. Should you put a blindfold and earmuffs on, you’d probably think you were in a Rolls-Royce. It’s incredibly smooth, and just eats terrible Los Angeles pavement for breakfast.

But what you really want to know is: how does it drive in the canyons?

To start with the basics, even though I’m not the tallest guy at 5’7”, I have to pull the seat impossibly far forward—because the footwell is really deep—before buckling in and driving. Almost immediately I realize that the Alcantara steering wheel is a bit too high, and I’m kind of driving like a monkey.

It’s OK, though; I’m already on my way…and I’m definitely not stopping now. My first impressions of the car were all about the response from both pedals. Despite the fact power is delivered from a monstrous twin-turbo V8 engine behind my head, it’s generally not a blow-your-brains-out, only-wiggle-your-big-toe type of pedal. It just begs to be hammered on.

I give the accelerator some love, but about a half-inch in, with my foot still pushing for more gas, I realize the next corner is rapidly approaching…and start to think that the extra urge may not have been the best idea.

If you’ve ever driven at speed in a canyon, you know that the last thing you want to do is look at your speedometer. Every morsel of concentration should be on the road, your left foot controlling the brake—and your right foot controlling the throttle. As I approached a seemingly impossible-to-make left-hand hairpin with the glowing Pacific ocean stretched out in front of me; my brain rapid fired: “BRAKE, BRAKE, BRAKE” and “EYES UP, EYES UP”.

It’s hard to describe how underappreciated eye placement is as a driving skill. When you drive fast on a small road, you’re tempted to look down…in case you might hit a cat, I guess, but you can’t—you absolutely have to look far ahead and remember how the road is hugging a giant slab of rock.

Seconds later, I’m deep into the corner, getting as close to the apex as possible—and for some crazy reason now asking myself, “Why am I going so slow?” It’s stupid; I shouldn’t be asking this question. But when you drive a car like the 675 LT, things like body roll and lack of mechanical grip don’t really exist. As I feed the throttle out of the corner, the power comes on blindingly fast, and the brake pedal shouts for attention yet again when the next corner appears from thin air.

When the explosions of speed and scenery stop, my emotions feel strangely calm and immensely disconcerting. It’s like waking up from a dream and not being sure if I’m still asleep or truly conscious. After the drive, my brain is numb, and my body feels like it’s still at the top of canyon waiting for me to come back and fetch it.

On one hand, I’d say it’s an immensely human experience. The build quality and capability of this supercar has a very unique ability to push one past personal boundaries and produce adrenaline unlike any other. On the other hand, it’s a both a mechanical and out-of-body experience. You will never say, “I’m better than the machine,” and every experience may end up feeling like deja-vu.

The emotional response to driving the McLaren 675LT is something like getting hit by a bus and waking up in the hospital. You may not be able to remember what happened, but you sure as hell felt it.

* Disclaimer: I’ve always been a McLaren guy. Not a Ferrari guy. Not a Lamborghini guy. Not a Porsche guy. They are all cars I love, but for some inexplicable reason, McLarens tend to do it for me.

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8 years ago

I’m fortunate to have been allowed to drive some very fast cars. I’ve driven across country twice and have seen most from Tail of the Dragon to Northern California’s Trinity Highway. One time I came off the ground at 140 and I almost ruined the leather in a Bugatti Veyron when Miller Motorcar’s late-great Werner Pfister went full throttle on 95. But I hate these new hypercars. Leno said it best when he said the real fun happens between 40 and 140. From a canyon carvers perspective I don’t know that I’d ever choose a 675LT. I remember driving an Exige S260 and approaching a roundabout at 60 when the owner in the passenger seat said “Don’t break, just go around it. It’ll do it.” And it did. Compared to the McLaren, that Lotus would be a slow little lady but I had one of the best drives of my life in that car. 75 in a 35 is still over twice the limit and the same in any car. I’d rather feel my whole body vibrating and tons of road and engine noise making me consider my shifting points and how much momentum I can carry through the next turn. Riding a roller coaster style road where just about anything is easy doesn’t sound fun. The idea of point and shoot speed doesn’t either. These new cars are showing drivers that you’ll never hit the limit on the road. Since most of us won’t track a car in the next year I can tell you that fear is where we got our love of cars when we first got our licenses. And I hope as enthusiasts we haven’t become so jaded that the rattle of an old 911 sideways on Mt. Hermon Circle in Delmar Delaware still doesn’t scare the shit out of us at 110. All that glitters at 200mph is not 75mph gold.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay
8 years ago
Reply to  pope400


Fredrik Assarsson
Fredrik Assarsson
8 years ago
Reply to  pope400

As true as that may be (Pope) my first supercar experience was in a similar McLaren. If you compare the experience of puttering along in an old Fiat 600 back in the 60’s and hopping into an old Miura it really must have been as mind blowing as driving a modern Smart-car and hopping into this McLaren.
The distance between a run-of-the-mill commuter car and a supercar is still as far as from here to the moon. That hasn’t changed from the old days until today. There’s plenty of room to admire the incredible speed of a modern supercar and still appreciate the roaring and slippery tail of an old Porsche. 😉
However! Even though the sensation of speed and acceleration is astonishing in the McLaren it really does lack in the “howling-engine-note” compartment. But holy he** does it go fast!

Me? I’ll be slipping and sliding along on the canyon roads in my roaring little ol’ Alfa GTV and loving absolutely every second of it – and thinking “I bet the McLaren has better synchros and gear linkage – luckily things have progressed, nowadays owners don’t have to learn to dual-declutch!” 🙂

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