Speedier Than the Senna, the 765LT Spider Is McLaren’s Most Powerful Convertible

As time and technology march on, ‘ordinary’ cars like the Civic Type R start to catch up to supercars. And sometimes, even brand flagships get one-upped by succeeding models. That’s the situation McLaren finds itself in right now. The British company has a new model, the 2021 McLaren 765LT Spider. And on paper, the convertible out-accelerates McLaren’s own racetrack-ready Senna.

The 755-hp 2021 McLaren 765LT Spider drops its top but keeps its performance up

A green-and-black 2021 McLaren 765LT Spider with its roof down
2021 McLaren 765LT Spider | McLaren

First, a bit of background. In 2019, McLaren released the 720S along with the convertible 720S Spider. It then spent some time tweaking, updating, and redesigning the 720S into the 2021 765LT. And now, the 765LT gets the same convertible treatment as the 720S to make the 2021 McLaren 765LT Spider.

Usually, turning a car into a convertible requires additional chassis and structure bracing to make up for the lack of a roof. Doing so adds weight, though, which is OK for a ‘regular’ car, but bad for a performance-oriented supercar. However, the 2021 McLaren 765LT Spider, like all of the company’s models, has a stiff carbon-fiber tub. It’s so stiff that the 765LT Spider doesn’t need any extra structural support, MotorTrend says.

The black-and-blue Alcantara-and-carbon-fiber interior of a blue 2021 McLaren 765LT Spider
2021 McLaren 765LT Spider interior | McLaren

As a result, the Spider’s mechanical folding hardtop only adds 108 pounds to the supercar’s curb weight. And at 3,060 pounds, the McLaren 765LT Spider is 176 pounds lighter than the 720S Spider. That’s thanks to weight-savings measures like a titanium exhaust, carbon-fiber aero elements, and thinner glass. The 765LT Spider’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission even has a few components made out of “Formula-1-grade” materials. Though it’s worth pointing out that curb weight is without the stereo and A/C, The Drive notes.

Besides less weight, the 2021 McLaren 765LT Spider gets a few performance upgrades over the 720S Spider. It has a quicker steering rack and carbon-ceramic brakes, Roadshow reports, as well as lighter forged-alloy wheels wrapped with Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires. Also, a carbon-fiber center console, exposed floor, and seats. Plus, a wider front track and lower ride height as well as a reprogrammed active suspension system with new dampers and springs.

Oh, and it’s also more powerful.

From 0-60 mph, the 2021 McLaren 765LT Spider is faster than the McLaren Senna supercar

An orange-and-black 2019 McLaren Senna
2019 McLaren Senna | McLaren

Like the 765LT, the 2021 McLaren 765LT Spider has a mid-mounted 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8. It’s rated at 755 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, 45 more hp and 22 more lb-ft than the 720S Spider has. And that lets the 765LT Spider go 0-60 mph in a claimed 2.7 seconds and 0-124 mph in 7.2 seconds. Plus, the convertible runs the ¼-mile in 10 seconds flat.

In a straight line, the McLaren 765LT Spider speeds past the 720S Spider. In Car and Driver’s hands, the latter car went 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds. The 720S Spider would also lose a ¼-mile drag race, as it needs 10.3 seconds to go the distance. However, because the 765LT Spider has shorter gear ratios, it maxes out at ‘just’ 205 mph, 7 mph slower than the 720S Spider.

That’s not the only earlier McLaren the new convertible can out-accelerate, though, at least briefly. The McLaren Senna also has a carbon-fiber tub and a mid-mounted 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with a seven-speed DCT. Filled up with fluids, though, the Senna is 30 lbs lighter than the 765LT Spider, Car and Driver reports. And its V8 makes 789 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. But even so, its 0-60 mph time is ‘just’ 2.8 seconds.

However, the McLaren Senna can quickly make up any lost ground. Its 0-124 mph time is 6.8 seconds and its top speed is 208 mph. Yet there’s one more wrinkle to the speed comparison. In its Senna test, Car and Driver recorded a ¼-mile time of 10.1 seconds. So, theoretically, the 765LT Spider could still squeak past.

How much does it cost?

The 2021 McLaren 765LT Spider doesn’t just keep pace with the Senna, though. It does it for significantly less money. However, it’s not what you’d call cheap. Prices start at $382,500; the stereo and A/C are no-cost options.

If you want one, though, you’ll have to act fast. McLaren is only making 765 examples of its new convertible. And only a third of the production is earmarked for North America.

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