McLaren 750S: A Delicate Evolution
Lisbon, Portugal – The debut of the McLaren 720S in 2017 marked a new era for McLaren, and it quickly became an iconic car. With its carbon monocoque, based on the one from the P1, and twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine, the 720S set the stage for limited-production models like the Senna, Elva, and Sabre. Its design, characterized by sinister eye-socket headlights and aerodynamic curves, also set the tone for McLaren’s future design language. Given the importance of replacing such a significant car, McLaren had to approach the development of the 2024 750S with caution.
While the 750S retains 70 percent of its predecessor’s parts, it makes significant use of the remaining 30 percent. The engine has received key tweaks, resulting in an additional 30 horsepower and 22 pound-feet of torque, bringing the total to 740 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. The car has also undergone a meticulous weight-loss program, shedding 66 pounds. Revised dampers promise better comfort and performance, and the 750S now comes with the newly standard Apple CarPlay. But the most notable improvement is the enhanced sound, either from the hypercar-chic center-exit exhaust or the enhanced audio system.
To determine if McLaren has succeeded in making the 750S better than the 720S and to test its performance, we set out for a few hours of driving on the cobblestones of Portugal and 30 minutes of track time. Our goal was to match the pace of this high-performing machine but also to evaluate its overall improvements.
The 2024 McLaren 750S comes with the following specifications:
– Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 4.0-Liter V8
– Output: 740 Horsepower / 590 Pound-Feet
– 0-60 MPH: 2.7 Seconds
– Top Speed: 206 MPH
– Base Price: $329,500
Taking our first drive in the 750S through the picturesque Portuguese countryside, we immediately noticed the car’s refined nature on the freeway. The suspension and powertrain have their own drive mode toggles, within easy reach mounted atop the hooded gauge cluster. In maximum comfort mode, the 750S provides a smooth and comfortable ride, with gentle throttle response and well-damped suspension. Long-distance trips are a viable option, given the car’s comfort-oriented setup.
However, we did find fault with the seats. The comfort seats, despite their name, provide minimal thigh support and lack stability. The standard carbon fiber sport buckets are heavily bolstered, making it challenging to enter and exit the car comfortably. Additionally, they created pressure points on our hips after just a few minutes of driving.
Nevertheless, the 750S still offers a comfortable ride for a supercar. Even on brick-paved towns and raised crosswalks, the car exhibited no harsh behavior, thanks to its exceptional body control. One of its noteworthy features is the attention it attracts, as demonstrated by the enthusiasm of schoolchildren demanding engine revs while waiting for the bus. This lightweight sports car has not forgotten to have a bit of fun, even with its sophisticated design.
Our first drive in the 750S Spider, with the retractable hardtop dropped, offered an exhilarating experience. The sound of the center-exit exhaust, combined with the turbocharged engine’s performance, was truly thrilling. The 750S Spider boasts additional power compared to its predecessor, thanks to lightweight pistons borrowed from the 765LT and improved boost from the twin-scroll turbochargers. It also has a lower final drive ratio, which enhances its response and performance. Accelerating from 0 to 60 mph takes just 2.7 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than the 720S. Additionally, the 750S offers slightly better fuel economy.
During our drive, we were impressed with the car’s stability and control, even in wet conditions. The weight-saving measures, including revised suspension components and lighter wheels, contribute to its excellent lateral and longitudinal reflexes. The 750S Spider demonstrated its nimbleness and agility, offering a thrilling experience on the road.
Switching to the coupe version with the suspension and powertrain set to Sport mode, we found that the 750S demonstrated similar excitement to the 765LT. The coupe felt even sharper and more responsive, offering an intense driving experience. The sharp steering, although slightly lighter than ideal, proved to be incredibly accurate and quick. The electrohydraulic rack transmitted abundant information to the wheel, providing useful feedback while navigating the drizzly mountain roads.
The Pirelli P Zero tires, designed for high-performance driving, delivered excellent lateral grip, with minimal slip even during aggressive cornering. However, we did encounter some challenges with wet-weather grip, as the tires struggled for traction under heavy throttle application. Despite this, the 750S showcased its excellent traction management, allowing drivers to precisely control the amount of power and maintain stability while navigating corners.
The seven-speed “Seamless Shift Gearbox” impressed us with its smooth and instantaneous response to paddle inputs. The carbon ceramic braking system, equipped on the coupe we drove, provided strong initial bite and easy modulation. These features, combined with the active rear spoiler, improved stability and grip during hard braking maneuvers.
Right On Track
We had three opportunities to prove our driving skills at the Estoril Circuit, with each stint consisting of five laps. Jack Barlow, our instructor and McLaren tester, provided guidance to help us achieve clean laps. While we didn’t quite match the capabilities of the 750S, we gained valuable experience and gradually improved our performance.
The McLaren gracefully handled the track, demonstrating its exceptional grip and stability. The track mode offered a stiff ride but provided the necessary support to navigate the varying surfaces of Estoril. The downforce generated by the car kept it firmly planted on the pavement, allowing us to push the car to its limits.
One notable feature was the limit downshift, which allowed us to downshift smoothly and predictably, even at high speeds. This feature proved especially useful when approaching challenging corners, giving us greater control over the car’s speed and handling.
Despite not reaching our goal of matching the 750S’ capabilities, we were thoroughly impressed with its performance. The engineering and design improvements over its predecessor were evident in every aspect of the car. The 750S is a testament to McLaren’s commitment to pushing boundaries and creating extraordinary driving experiences.