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Woking shuns electrification and aims for lightness and purity with 720S replacement

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The McLaren 750S is the supercar that directly follows one as dependable and highly rated as the mighty 720S – a machine that must have been a very reassuring influence at Woking these past few years, as the company has morphed around it.

In recent years the technically bold Artura has arrived, and is now with us in revised form, its troubled gestation and launch behind it; McLaren Automotive’s senior leadership team has changed widely since 2022 but now seems more settled; and the firm has been back to its shareholders for recapitalisation funding.

Calmer waters should be ahead. And while Woking’s greater exploration of ‘luxury’ niches and ‘lifestyle’ vehicle concepts remains on the to-do list, it can now plan that exploration with some confidence.

While doing so, it is time for the five-star 720S, McLaren’s trusty mainstay, to take a step on itself. The car you're about to read about is a revised take on that car’s simple mid-engined, carbon-tubbed concept.

But while the 750S’s competitors increasingly embrace plug-in hybrid power, it has moved in the opposite direction. This car is reaching for even greater performance, handling dynamism and driver appeal through the pursuit of lightness, agility, downforce, mechanical grip and control feedback.

Unlike its rivals from Modena and Sant’Agata, it will forge on without any powertrain hybridisation, and without the complexity and weight it would add, and McLaren has sought to ram home that advantage by dialling up its appeal to supercar purists and true enthusiast drivers. 

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Read on to find out how – and how effectively – that has been achieved.

The range at a glance

Models Power From
GTS Coupe 626bhp £179,260
Artura Coupe 691bhp £202,660
Artura Spider 691bhp £222,760
750S Coupe 740bhp £246,655
750S Spider 740bhp £269,160

The Artura and GTS featured on McLaren’s model configurator are 2025-model-year cars (the former with the more powerful engine sampled recently onthe Spider version).

The 750S offers no trim levels per se, but there are various option packages bringing, for example, exterior carbonfibre trim, extended Alcantara interior trim, and McLaren’s TechLux interior.


mclaren 750s review 2024 02 front tracking

McLaren claims 30% of the 720S’s overall component count has been replaced or revised for this car.

On the outside, a longer and more aggressive front splitter lurks beneath starker headlights inset into their sunken air intakes. At the side, there are larger and more numerous air intakes also around the sills and rear wheel arches than the 720S had. At the rear, a longer rear deck and larger rear wing complete a more purposeful look accentuated by a new stainless steel central-exit exhaust system.

The exhaust itself contributes as part of a weight-saving initiative that has shaved some 30kg from the 720S’s kerb weight. The 750S, claims McLaren, weighs less than 1400kg in running order, and can be made to weigh less than 1300kg with the right option boxes ticked. That compares well with an electrified Ferrari 296 GTB, which only narrowly dips under 1.5 tonnes.

We were a little disappointed, therefore, to find that our test car (not in weight-optimised trim but with some lightweight options selected) weighed 1412kg on the scales with a third of a tank of fuel. That said, Ferrari’s key electrified rival weighed 1648kg in like-for-like circumstances when we tested it in 2022. And so it seems the main thrust of McLaren’s sales pitch can be believed. By modern standards, this is certainly a light supercar.

The 720S’s interlinked Predictive Chassis Control hydraulic suspension system (used in lieu of anti-roll bars) has been recalibrated and new coil springs (marginally softer at the front, firmer at the rear) and adaptive dampers have been adopted. A front axle track 6mm wider than on the 720S is likely to have reduced effective front spring rate further still, while altered wheel geometry has also been adopted. A quicker electrohydraulic power steering rack is fitted, with a new and more powerful pump.

In the engine bay, the 750S adopts the lightweight pistons from the 765LT’s ‘M840T’ 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and runs greater turbo boost pressure than the 720S had. The 740bhp it makes is 30bhp up on the 720S, while the 590lb ft is as much as the Ultimate Series Senna we tested in 2018. Woking has also fitted a short final drive ratio here, downstream of the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, giving those power and torque improvements an even greater chance to hike the car’s as-tested acceleration.

Carbon-ceramic brakes come as standard. Special discs, calipers and servo assistance systems derived from those that made the Senna stop so powerfully are options that our test car had. Finally, new firmer engine, gearbox, axle and steering mounts boost control feedback from 720S levels.


mclaren 750s review 2024 13 interior

Our test car had the Performance interior styling package, super-lightweight carbonfibre racing seats and titanium harness bar.

Certain elements of cabin trim, in carbonfibre and Alcantara, were also cost options. Standard comfort seats, regular belts and no harness bar filling the rear-view mirror (so there’s better access to carry soft overnight bags behind the seats) can of course be had if you prefer.

Having stepped over the raised sill and stooped past the wing-like raised dihedral door, you slide into those carbon-shelled seats with care to avoid a dig in the kidneys. Once you have, they are surprisingly comfortable (our car had McLaren’s wider touring seat design, but slimmer ones are available). 

In front of you lies the 720S’s beautifully sparse steering wheel, which can be moved through a wide scope of adjustment. Since you sit wonderfully low, but benefit from what is superb all-aspect visibility by mid-engined vehicle standards, it is easy to feel at home here – and it is surprisingly unintimidating too.

The motorised, flip-up digital instrument screen of the 720S and the row of driving mode controls adjacent to it are gone. In their place is a good-sized instrument pod fixed to the steering column, rather than the fascia, that has rocker adjusters around its upper edge for the powertrain and handling modes.

These were the ergonomic improvements brought in by the Artura, but the 750S’s layout benefits from them just as noticeably, because you don’t need to look far from the road, or really take your hand from the steering wheel rim at all, to change a key setting.

McLaren claims more carrying space is available behind the seats than within its ‘frunk’, but the latter remains generous by mid-engined supercar standards and could fit a smallish suitcase with some smaller soft bags packed around it.

In the cabin, there are no door pockets (which might, after all, empty themselves when you swing the door open, unless cleverly shaped like those on the smaller Artura), but there’s useful storage for pocket contents around a cleverly designed centre console.

All of which makes for a pretty habitable and comfortable driving environment of impressive tactile quality – one with the simple priorities a keen driver might approve of but which doesn’t seem slavishly devoted to them either.

Multimedia system

The Central Infotainment Screen on the 750S has been upgraded since appearing in the 720S. Portrait-oriented, it is fairly modestly sized and so doesn’t dominate the fascia, but it’s touchscreen-only for input, and navigating it remains a slightly less intuitive process than the best touchscreen systems.McLaren’s layout and hierarchy of functions seem just a little odd somehow and take some getting used to.

A physical home button is an aid to usability, though, letting you flick quickly through menu screens and navigate upwards easily. Wired smartphone mirroring for Apple CarPlay is supported but Android Auto isn’t. Neither wireless mirroring nor wireless device charging is supported.

McLaren has developed a new higher-powered Bowers & Wilkins stereo for the car that can be had as an option but our test car didn’t have it – and its standard audio system sounded a little bit underpowered.


mclaren 750s review 2024 29 front cornering

Here we are again, debating the appeal of McLaren’s Ricardo-built turbo V8 engine, in an application in which the company claims to have spent considerable time tuning the harmonics. Certain key frequencies have been boosted, it says, not least by the 750S’s new stainless steel exhaust.

The result is certainly loud – in parts crisper and more detailed than it was, perhaps, but still a bit grumbly, coarse and appliance-like. Subjectively, it’s not a delight on the ear, and maybe it’s time everyone accepted that it never will be.

And yet the hit of performance it delivers is a wonderful succession of hurricane force mid-range boost followed by high-rpm snarl that it’s hard to compute both can be produced by the same engine.

McLaren, to its credit, clearly isn’t afraid of a bit of non-linearity and ‘beast’ in the 750S’s power delivery. Under full power, the M840T V8 retains that recognisably big-bore turbocharged feel as it surges frenetically between 2500rpm and 5000rpm, making you feel like you’re being slung from a catapult.

It seems finally to catch up with itself from 5500rpm, tailing off from peak torque gradually but taking on greater pedal precision and crisper response as it does so, up to a redline of 8100rpm. 

The 750S’s shorter gearing and boostier engine give it a wildness of character beyond the 720S’s, no question – but how much quicker do they make it against the clock?

There’s no denying how fast the new car feels but, on a perfectly dry day at Millbrook and on Pirelli Corsa tyres (the optional Trofeo Rs would have made a difference here), the progress was visible – if small. In unvarnished terms, it was quicker from rest to 100mph by 0.2sec, over a standing quarter by 0.1sec and again by just a tenth to 170mph.

With its electrically boosted reserves, a Ferrari 296 GTB is a good deal quicker again (0-100mph in 5.1sec, although on its stickiest homologated rubber).

Leaving the objective measures to one side, there’s much to like about this engine and gearbox. McLaren now offers a second launch control mode, in addition to the more serious, optimally quick one, that mixes a bit more expressive drama and controlled wheelspin into the car’s motive character.

And then there are the incredibly positive shifts of ‘SSG’ transmission to marvel at, and the supremely powerful brakes (70-0mph in just 39.4m beat the 720S but still not a 296 GTB with Michelin Cup 2 R tyres).

Track Notes (Anglesey Circuit, International)

There was no denying the outright potency of the 750S, and its ability to carry speed along Anglesey’s straights; into braking zones, leaning on that huge stopping power; and then, in turn, towards apices.

Good handling balance and reassuring steady-state turn-in stability make this a supercar that can sustain lots of roll-on cornering speed, the kind that tests your bravery to carry it through the heart of a corner. If you can find the nerve, you can find a lot of lap time that way.

The 750S’s shorter gearing and greater torque mean it can struggle to come out of tighter corners under power unless you short shift, which made its handling a little scruffier than the 720S’s was. You risk losing time rousing the traction control, or alternatively spinning its rear wheels.

It’s a very easy car to overdrive in corners like this. This ultimately made the car a tenth slower than the 720S around Anglesey, even on Trofeo R tyres.


mclaren 750s review 2024 30 rear cornering

The 750S has wonderfully tactile and immersive handling at any speed. In this respect, if the 720S was a little too mild-mannered and reserved for your tastes (it wasn’t for ours), its successor certainly won’t be.

It communicates even more vividly than the 720S did, but not so differently. The quickened steering offers still more intuitive weight and tactility to go with its greater directness, so as never to feel at all over-responsive. And there’s more bite and gristle about the body control, through a ride that, on the road, feels between 20% and 30% firmer than the 720S’s did.

It is, however, the greatest compliment to the supreme on-road ride compromise of the 720S, and how much margin it left, that this car can feel much firmer in give-and-take cross-country motoring – and yet still escape any sense of being annoyingly highly strung. The 750S doesn’t avoid that by a great deal, and there is an edge of coarseness about its noise isolation that puts you more clearly in mind of an Ultimate Series Senna than any regular McLaren model.

But it still has that McLaren-typical oneness with a winding road. That flows first from a steering system that is uncannily accurate and intuitively full of feel, which enables you to guide the car with a sense of precision that little else on four wheels equals, and makes the chassis’s width easily manageable. And it then feeds from handling balance that is as assuredly accurate as it is balanced and agile, never darting at a direction change but never dwelling either.

That there is some fluency to the body control at road speeds seals the deal – although there isn’t nearly so much of it here as the 720S had. The 750S does tramline and bump-steer occasionally. Not a troublesome amount in supercar-typical terms, though – and, if you like its more vivid rolling character at least, probably not by enough to tip the balance out of favour.

Comfort & Isolation

McLaren is probing the bounds of acceptability with a mainstream supercar here: checking how much appetite its core clientele have for a more hardcore car, and whether they can be taken at their word.

Those customers have said they would like the rawness and drama of a ‘Longtail’ model packaged with the touring manners of a GT. And McLaren has clearly aimed towards the first part of that bargain, hoping it won’t be held to account on the second part so assiduously.

The 750S, quite plainly, is a car whose suspension should be left in Comfort mode on all but the smoothest of roads – and even when it is, it can still bristle and fidget a little over bigger inputs, and clunk over sharper edges.

On those smoother surfaces and at higher speeds, Sport handling mode can be used and keeps the tyres in better contact with the road, the body ever level and tautly controlled.

The stiffened engine and axle mounts do allow more vibration to reverberate through the carbon tub, though. Our noise meter recorded 79dBA of cabin noise at a 70mph cruise – and that’s plenty, even for a supercar (720S: 75dBA, Ferrari 296 GTB: 75dBA, Corvette Z06: 77dBA).

Again, it’s probably not quite enough to divert your preference for the car if you like how it’s positioned, and everything else it does, but it’s significant all the same.


mclaren 750s review 2024 01 front cornering

There is plenty of the 765LT about so much of the 750S, so we should consider it indicative of how hard McLaren is having to work for its business right now that, after a few years of monumental inflation, this car’s pricing is still below what that ‘Longtail’ model’s was even in 2020.

A starting price just under £250k is only where you would expect any 720S successor to have resided, after all – even if it is still only in line with what Ferrari charges for the faster, more powerful 296 GTB, and pricier than any Lamborghini Huracán ever sold, save for the top-rung STO.

Just as with the Ferrari, though, it’s sobering how much the 750S’s price can be inflated with options. Exotic brands always say their customers can’t spend enough on personalisation, but for our car’s final £350k-plus bill, you would have been closing in on Ferrari SF90 and Lamborghini Revuelto money, both of which would most likely hold their value better than the 750S.


mclaren 750s review 2024 32 front static

Context is key to understanding why the 750S is the way it is. Clearly it isn’t quite the emphatically dominant statement its predecessor was seven years ago, with supercar performance benchmarks having taken significant leaps since 2017. This isn’t the quickest car in its niche, nor at its price – in a straight line, or around a lap.

If you approve of the way McLaren has repositioned this car, though, and of the philosophy it espouses, slim performance deficits might seem unimportant.

The 750S comes into a model range in which the Artura has become Woking’s new everyday supercar – and so it has necessarily become slightly more specialised, rarefied and hardcore of flavour. As a follow-up act for an owner of a 720S, it also makes fine sense as an altogether spicier, more potent and more complex challenge to the palette.

And for us? That the 750S lacks the sheer road-going breadth of dynamic talent of its predecessor has to count against it, while what it has gained as a track car seems marginal in scope – and a little debatable in efficacy. But, if nothing else, this is a likeably wild effort from a company not known for taking such risks with its breadwinning volume sellers.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.