McLaren drills down on detail to further reduce vehicle weight


Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren Automotive, has confirmed that the company is further pursuing its engineering philosophy of reducing vehicle weight to enhance the vehicle dynamics, performance and efficiency of its range of supercars. McLaren believes that this ongoing drive for weight reduction will put the company in the best possible position to introduce powertrain advances such as hybridisation and electrification.

“Reducing vehicle weight is at the centre of our strategy for the next generations of McLaren supercars. We are already class-leading and committed to further driving down weight in order to be in the best possible position to maximise the efficiency and performance of hybridised models to be introduced by 2025,” stated Flewitt.

“Vehicle mass is the enemy of performance whether a car has a conventional internal combustion engine or a fully electrified powertrain, so winning the weight race is an absolute priority for us – and one of the reasons McLaren Automotive has invested heavily in the McLaren Composites Technology Centre, our own UK composite materials innovation and production facility,” he added.

The commitment to minimising weight is demonstrated with the launch of the limited edition (765 examples) 765LT McLaren supercar, which has a DIN weight 80kg lighter than the 720S model on which it is based, for a total dry weight of 1,229kg. Given the 765LT shares the carbon fibre Monocage II structure with the 720S, reducing vehicle weight set a challenge for the car’s development team.

The carbon fibre Monocage II structure at the core of the McLaren 765LT

Naturally carbon fibre played a large part in the project, with the material used in the exterior body panels and aerodynamic components, as well as inside the car, for the seats and centre tunnel. Several of these components are being fabricated at the McLaren Composites Technology Centre in Yorkshire, UK – the first time the facility has created body components for a McLaren road car.

Other weight-saving measures on the 765LT include lightweight side windows and motorsport-style polycarbonate glazing at the rear of the car, with Formula 1-grade materials used in the transmission. The exhaust system – which is fully-formed in titanium – delivers a 40% weight saving over a comparable steel system, with the quad-exit exhaust also tuned for aural pleasure. The result of this light weight, combined with a 765PS, 800Nm twin-turbo V8 engine, is acceleration from 0-200km/h (124mph) in just 7.2 seconds.

The 765LT’s track-tuned suspension has also been analysed for weight reductions, with features such as motorsport-derived ‘helper’ springs that negate the need for a heavier, dual-rate sprint arrangement. The use of ultra-lightweight wheels, bespoke Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R tyres and titanium wheel bolts add up to a saving of 22kg – a reduction in unsprung mass that also enhances the vehicle’s dynamic performance. If that isn’t enough for 765LT buyers, they can choose to leave the air-conditioning and audio systems off the standard specification, although they can be retained at no cost.

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Adam divides his time as an editor between the worlds of aviation and motoring. These worlds may seem a little diverse today, but autonomous technology and future urban mobility is bringing them ever-closer. Adam is also chairman of the Vehicle Dynamics International Awards.

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