But the changes to the tub mean that the A-pillars are particularly thin (and left unadorned by trim), while thin carbonfibre beams criss-cross the original Honda-NSX-ish, Pagani-Zonda-ish looking occupant compartment, with glass panels everywhere making it a doddle to see out of. Not since the first NSX or, say, Ferrari 355 has a full-blown mid-engined supercar been so easy to see out of.
That airiness takes away any sensation that you might feel remotely cramped in here, and the rest of the cabin is a lot more accommodating. The driving position remains bang on as usual – dead straight, with one of the most adjustable steering wheels in motordom (connected to a rack that is still hydraulically assisted, incidentally).
Either foot will do for the centrally mounted brake pedal, and there’s a new pop-out instrument binnacle – a bit unnecessary – and a revised central stack, on which lives a new touchscreen controller (it’s far easier to use than the old Iris system), plus McLaren’s driving controls as usual, which remain slightly more complicated than they strictly need to be.
Still, it’s a nice place to be, with better materials. The stitching on the Alcantara on this pre-production car could be better in a couple of places, but on full-production McLarens, it usually is.
The point is, though, that the 720S is meant to be more broadly capable than the 650S. Better on the road and better on a track, although not quite as extreme as a 675LT when it comes to the latter. The 720S certainly rides well enough. It takes a certain confidence to hand a 710bhp supercar to a bunch of journalists who’ve never sat in it before and send them straight out into Monday morning Rome traffic, but there you go.
Visibility is terrific. The ride is compliant. The dampers still have three settings – Comfort, Sport and Track (with Comfort replacing Normal, because “there’s nothing normal about a McLaren”, don’cha know) – and you’ll leave them in Comfort most of the time.
The motor and gearbox have the same three settings, too, selected independently from the chassis ones. In town, the McLaren’s engine doesn’t shout loudly at you – even though our test car was one of the more racy specs, with a sports exhaust and also standard-sized fixed-back bucket seats (you can get wider ones, too).
Anyway, the engine. Not loud – not around town, at any rate. It’s powerful-sounding, sure, but there isn’t anything like the obvious grumble of an AMG V8 or the hollow ‘bwoap’ of something from Ferrari.
But it does seem to shrink around you pretty quickly, the 720S. Daft, really, how we sometimes sit and wonder, “How much power is too much?” Then you get in a £218k supercar and thread it through traffic and out beyond the suburbs onto crummy roads between fields, up and down gentle hills, and realise that it’s as easy to drive as a mid-level family saloon.
Only it’s quite a lot faster when you want it to be, obviously. There’s so much torque, with little noticeable lag, that it becomes second nature and an utter doddle to drive the 720S around in relatively high gears on the road, surfing the mid-range when you need an overtake, or three at once, enjoying the suppleness of the ride, which combines sweetly with the pure, oily slickness of the steering, which, at 2.5 turns between locks, is wonderfully geared and weighted, takes on reassuring midcorner weight and offers relatively uncorrupted road feel, like little else in this class.