With the 2017 launch of the 720S, McLaren entered a new chapter. Its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 and carbon monocoque, which was based on the P1 model, not only produced an incredible vehicle but also served as the foundation for iconic cars with limited production runs like the Senna, Elva, and Sabre. Its design launched a brand design language with its aerodynamic curves and menacing eye-socket headlights. With good reason, McLaren is proud of the 720S.
It’s a difficult procedure to replace a car of that calibre, which is why the 2024 750S retains the design and platform of its predecessor. The 750S makes excellent use of the remaining 30% of its parts, even though the two share 70% of them. A few important engine modifications add 30 extra horsepower and 22 more pound-feet of torque – totaling 740 and 590, respectively. A meticulous weight-loss program cuts 66 pounds, while revised dampers promise greater comfort and performance. Finally, whether from the hypercar-chic center-exit exhaust or newly standard Apple CarPlay, the 750S sounds even better.
|Quick Stats||2024 McLaren 750S|
|Engine||Twin-Turbocharged 4.0-Liter V8|
|Output||740 Horsepower / 590 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH||2.7 Seconds|
|Top Speed||206 MPH|
My first chance in the 750S came in the picturesque Portuguese countryside. The more refined nature of the 750S is plainly apparent on the freeway. Like the smaller Artura, suspension and powertrain get their own drive mode toggles mounted atop the hooded gauge cluster (the folding unit from the 720S is gone), making alterations an easy finger-stretch from the steering wheel. Set up for maximum comfort, the 750S is a smooth operator, with genteel throttle tip-in and a well-damped ride. Long-distance trips in a 750 seem like a reasonable proposition.
That is, if your body agrees with the seats. The comfort seats are comfortable in name alone, offering very little thigh support, and I constantly felt like I was sliding off the front. And the standard carbon fiber sport buckets are far too narrow and heavily bolstered for easy entry and exit, much less the pressure points on my hips after about three minutes of seat time.
I took a 750S Spider for my first, ill-advised drive just as the early fall skies began to open up over Portugal. I nevertheless removed the retractable hardtop—you have to hear that new exhaust sing—and started driving. The Spider is exciting, even at a speed determined more by the weather than by feelings. Even at full throttle, runs close to the 8,500-rpm redline, and even steep acceleration to the speed limit gives you chills. That center-exit exhaust slopes upward from the back deck.
The engine’s increased power is provided by two twin-scroll turbochargers, a freer-flowing auxiliary fuel pump, lightweight pistons taken from the 765LT, and cooling modifications to support that output increase. A shorter final drive ratio also improves response out on the road, making the already sharp throttle and minimal turbo lag feel even snappier. The sprint to 60 miles per hour is done in 2.7 seconds, a tenth faster than the 720S, and yet, the 750S gets marginally better fuel economy.
With the suspension and powertrain set to their middle-ground Sport mode and the transmission in manual mode, the 750S hardtop is probably 95 percent as exciting to drive quickly as the 765LT, with most of the thanks going to that shrieking exhaust. While the Spider is commendably stiff and nimble, the coupe feels even sharper. With the steering chatting to my palms and the rigid bucket seats delivering information into the base of my torso, the McLaren provided me with non-stop data. And as I learned in college intramural athletics, “Open and honest two-way communication is the key to success in any relationship or volleyball team.”
This made it simple to exert extreme control over the vehicle and get an equal amount of excitement out of it. The Pirellis still wanted to produce rubber pebbles with every throttle application, even on significantly drier roads, but the 750S informed me in advance of what would happen, which gave me time to correct my attitude and get in line. Fortunately, the twin-scroll turbos give linear and consistent power delivery, the throttle is simple to adjust, and the on-board stability controls are very subtle. Finding the ideal amount of force to propel oneself ahead without overpowering the rubber turned into a rewarding exercise in managing traction.
Right On Track
I would have three chances to prove myself. Each stint behind the wheel would encompass five laps of Estoril, which inspires fear via a high-speed sweeper and complicated uphill hairpins on the backside, leading into a terrifyingly long front straight that ends in a hard 120-degree right turn with precious little runoff. My long-suffering instructor, a handsome McLaren tester named Jack Barlow, would be sitting next to me the whole time, barking orders in my ear to help me put down a clean lap. Spoiler alert: I wouldn’t be successful, but he did get me close.
My first go-round was largely a disaster through no fault of either the car or Jack, and at the end, the pro driver told me in no uncertain terms to trust two things – his instructions and the car’s high levels of performance. On the second run, I took his advice to heart. The McLaren could handle it, after all – the 750S relegated for track duty had those monoblock calipers derived from the Senna and even more aggressive track-day seats.
With the exception of the challenging Curva Gancho Turns 9 and 10, the second attempt was mostly successful. From entry to exit, this pair of left-right chicanes climbs an average slope of 7%, and I was frequently taken off guard by the early braking zone. During my worst run, I attempted to regain some time by hammering my way through the second apex with too much throttle after I had wiped off way too much speed on the entry.
“What didn’t you do there?” Jack enquired in a tone that suggested he was dissatisfied rather than angry. I didn’t brake hard enough
“You’re right,” he answered. “You didn’t brake hard enough.”
This is my final assignment, and it’s for every single pebble. Following a few turns, Jack’s exhortations became far less frequent and urgent, yet the moment I entered the front straight’s braking zone at nearly 170 mph, I remembered his advice to trust the car, trust the brakes, and trust the aero more. I hit those carbon-ceramics with every muscle in my leg as we slowed with zero drama or wiggle from the rear end. I was finally braking hard enough.
The next three-and-a-half laps finally felt natural and zenlike. Track mode gave the McLaren a stiff ride over Estoril’s varying surfaces, but with limited bump steer and track-spec P Zero Trofeo tires, the 750S had no trouble maintaining its grip on the pavement.
Track also uncorked one of the car’s most interesting electronic features – the limit downshift. When slowing down from high speed (that long front straight, for example) the driver can command a downshift via the paddle, and the car will carry it out as soon as the speed falls to the point that it won’t overrev the engine. That feature proved most useful as I planned ahead for Gancho, my nemesis.