From the moment you first turn the 720S’s steering wheel, you realise why McLaren’s choice to stick with hydraulic steering was a good one.

At 2.5 turns lock to lock, it’s never nervous but always absolutely direct enough, plus unerringly accurate, deftly weighted and offering terrific road feel.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Chief tester
High-speed stability in hard braking is much better than in the 650S

It sets a precedent that the rest of the 720S’s chassis duly follows. Changes to the Proactive chassis control system mean that, in the softest of the three settings (now Comfort rather than Normal, because “there’s nothing normal about a McLaren”), the ride is deft indeed: softly sprung when it needs to be but offering firmer responses as roads become more challenging, as well as excellent body control and roll resistance at all times.

Flick it through Sport and Track and you get an extra dose of control to offset some of the comfort, but there’s always enough suppleness to cope with the rigours of demanding road or track use. This is a car that shrugs off mid-corner bumps like no other.

A Porsche 911 GT3 might lift a wheel, but the 720S will accept that the track or road is different for a nanosecond and then carry on.

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Still, it has usually been thus with McLarens.

The difference this time is that the 720S is happy to be driven on a circuit in a more liberal manner than, say, the 650S ever was. The 650S wanted you to drive it its way: trail the brakes to an apex, nail the throttle at it. That was fine on some corners, but not all, and meant it wasn’t as engaging as the 488 GTB, whose chassis balance gave you more options, more often.

The 720S still doesn’t have a limited-slip differential, but here, at last, is a Super Series McLaren that can be steered and adjusted on the throttle – and not just on it but also by easing off it.

It’s less prone to understeer than the 650S, and when it slides, it does so with more ease, breaking away more controllably and predictably. Partly that’s McLaren’s brake steer at work, allowing more power to an outside wheel to overcome grip. Partly it’s just that there is a shedload more power and torque to overwhelm the back end.

Ultimately, the 488 GTB is that bit more immediate again in its response to throttle inputs, due to what feels like sharper throttle response, plus the fact that its e-differential can more effectively meter power between the back wheels.

To that extent, it’s more liberated, more of a hooligan, but the 720S almost matches it in this regard now, and it is the more composed and involving road car as well.

Unlike the 650S, the 720S feels like it’s rotating around its middle — like the pivot point is ahead or right next to you. The 650S never felt like that.

Whereas the 650S wanted to be driven its way, the 720S is much more liberated, accommodating and involving.

There’s less understeer than in the 650S, and its ability to change direction is never in question. It’s the most agile car in this class bar none.

When it does start to slide, it depends on how you entered the corner as to which end does it first. If you turned in on a trailed brake, the back starts to come around predictably and as a precursor to something else.

Full ESC is neatly judged. Half ESC gives you enough slip. All off and Variable Drift Control acts like a traction control and will allow slip from ‘barely noticeable’ to ‘wahey’. But switching everything off is still the most satisfying, if not the fastest.

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