McLaren may claim that there’s still plenty that separates the mechanical specification of this car’s suspension from that of a 570S GT4 racer, but you simply won’t believe there could be, having driven it.

The particular settings that were dialled into the manually adjustable coil-overs of our test car made it the stiffest-feeling McLaren road car we’ve tested so far. It’s stiffer even than a Senna, most testers agreed, and a car of very present and occasionally imposing purpose even when simply driven from A to B.

A firm set-up means the 620R corners with virtually no body roll and little fore or aft movement when braking or accelerating, but it remains tactile and engaging to drive

On the road, the 620R is super-taut and level. It doesn’t seem to roll through corners in any way whatsoever and shifts very little of its weight longitudinally under heavy braking or acceleration. As such, this could be a hard chassis to read and get on terms with at road speeds were it not for a steering rack that hits particularly rare heights even by McLaren’s high standards.

The 620R’s steering could so easily have felt aggressive and hyperactive over uneven roads – but no. Instead it remains sensibly, intuitively paced.

It telegraphs grip level and contact patch feel more clearly than almost any new car with numberplates there is, save perhaps an Ariel Atom or Lotus Exige. And while it does react a little bit more to bump and camber than McLaren steering systems generally tend to do, it isn’t the kind of tiller you need to hold straight with both hands as if it belonged to a Dallara Stradale or a street-legal Radical. You can relax at the wheel of this car on the road and simply enjoy what’s going on around you – and that would make a big difference to how often you’d be inclined to drive it.

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Such stiffly tuned race-bred cars sometimes lack inherent handling balance at normal road speeds, but the 620R doesn’t. Its handling agility fluctuates a little depending on tyre temperature – like so much else about it – but the car is both enormously grippy and really directionally precise when the Trofeo Rs are up to temperature. And in fact, the process of switching those tyres on and then keeping them warm ends up being just another engaging facet of a vividly involving driving experience.

Despite having a chilly and in places damp handling circuit on which to run, the 620R matched the lap time set last year by the 600LT in drier conditions. We can only guess at how much quicker it might have gone on another day, but the answer is likely to be at least half a second.

The car’s unflinching stability and iron resistance to body movement make it so easy to gauge the grip level of the tyres. Driving right up to that level takes physical effort, but it’s mentally absorbing as well. It’s as if every bit of cornering energy is transmitted laterally into the car’s tyre sidewalls rather than being lost vertically into the suspension, and every bit of braking energy goes straight into the tyre carcasses and the carbon-ceramic discs rather than being soaked up by body movement.

The 620R doesn’t feel quite as powerful under braking as the Senna did, but the discs do somehow generate an intriguing second wind once you get properly into the pedal, and they resist fade interminably.

Comfort and isolation

If the 620R was intended to be comfortable enough that you could drive it to your chosen circuit for a track day and then drive home again afterwards, it’s probably just about refined and habitable enough.

Body control is exceptionally tight and the ride is undoubtedly firm, but the suspension isn’t so unyielding that this McLaren is totally incapable of breathing with more gently undulating roads. But while there is a limited amount of compliance here, the 620R is still nowhere near as fluent over long-wave inputs as Woking’s habitual standard for on-road ride comfort.

High-frequency, short-wave inputs are rather more gruelling, as are any ruts or bumps that the 620R’s forged alloy wheels might happen to run over. With, in effect, no sound-deadening materials, suspension noise is particularly conspicuous in such instances. At lower speeds in particular, you really do feel the force of these impacts, and you will find yourself much more inclined to drive around drains and manhole covers than wince as you clout over them.

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It’s noisy at a cruise. Rolling on those Trofeo Rs, the 620R generates a considerable amount of road roar at motorway speeds. Air constantly whistles down the roof-mounted air intake and around the rear wing like wind blowing through the branches of a dead tree. Engine noise is persistent, and you can hear stones pinging loudly off the underbody. At 70mph, our microphone put cabin noise at 79dB, making it just 2dB quieter than a Senna.