Driving the NEW McLaren 750S | Henry Catchpole – The Driver’s Seat

Reading Time: 10 minutes
Posted: 2023-11-17 00:01:00
Author: Hagerty
Join Hagerty Drivers Club: https://bit.ly/Join-HDC-Henry — A review of the new McLaren 750S is the topic for this latest episode of The Driver’s Seat. Henry Catchpole spends time on track at Estoril in a coupe and then on the Portuguese roads nearby in a spider. The question is, what’s actually new? Because the 750S looks remarkably similar to the old 720S. What’s more, as the name suggests, it only has 30hp more.

But to dismiss this car too quickly would be a big mistake. For a start, regardless of any familiarity, this is a spectacular looking supercar with features that remain utterly distinctive such as the eye socket headlights and double skin doors. Then there is the fact that it has shorter gearing, which means the uplift in acceleration is much greater than the power hike would suggest.

The 0-62mph time is now identical to the 765LT and although the top speed has dropped 6mph to 206mph, the in-gear acceleration is ten per cent quicker. With 740bhp and 590lb ft of torque helping along a car that has a dry weight of just 1277kg (193kg lighter than a Ferrari 296 GTB), it’s little surprise that driving the 750S flat out feels like piloting a low-flying jet.

Add in improved steering feel, a driving position that was already perfect, incredible visibility and niceties like Apple CarPlay and a nose lift that you can actually operate without referring to the manual and you have a car that is pretty hard to fault. McLaren has even worked on the sound of the M840T twin-turbo V8 in order to make it more appealing, with almighty ignition cut explosions in the powertrain’s Sport mode.

Prices for the 750S Coupe start at $324,000 in the US and £243,500 in the UK, while the cost of a Spider starts at $345,000 in the US and £267,900 in the UK. Considerably cheaper is a subscription to the Hagerty Drivers Club, and it is nearly as thrilling as a 750S. If you’d like to learn more and help support the show in the process then just click on this link: https://bit.ly/Join-HDC-Henry

#henrycatchpole #thedriversseat #neverstopdriving #mclaren #mclaren750s

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Hagerty Video Transcript

– [Henry] The butterfly effect, the idea that a tiny change can have big repercussions. This McLaren 750S is a car full of small changes. So what effect have they had? Spot the difference, oh, I do like this. Easy. Hmm? Red 720, no, the other way around. Does that badge say 20 or 50? I do really like a game of spot the difference, and this is a particularly tricky one because this is the brand new McLaren 750S, the successor to the 720S,

Which is quite an old car by now. If you like a game of spot the difference, then these are some of the changes, such as the new, slightly larger front splitter. Then we have the vents over the front wheel, which you might remember from 765LT.

Badge, always a good way to spot the difference. Slightly different intake down there, I think down, then around the back it’s slightly easier to see some changes because we have a larger rear wing. Bit of an angle on it like that, and the exhausts, there were two before and now there’s only one.

But keeping it so similar does raise questions, is this perhaps a rush job or a stop gap after the stuttering birth of Artura? And even if that’s not the case, which McLaren obviously says it isn’t, shouldn’t McLaren have been just bolder for a new car?

But just because this car doesn’t look that different, doesn’t mean we should dismiss it. For a start, if the 720S had never existed and this was released, then I think we’d be cooing over those socket headlights, pondering the double skinned doors, and admiring the sleek organic shapes and the surfaces. What’s more, if Aston Martin and Porsche can get away with acetic evolution rather than revolution,

Then why not McLaren? And of course it’s not all about looks, there are the mechanicals too, which we’re told are 30% new, but 750? Just a mere 30 horsepower on top of a 720? That’s not much. But this has one other little trick up its sleeve,

Which I’d argue has a much bigger effect, a 15% shorter final drive. 2.8 seconds to 62 miles an hour, and 7.2 to 124 is so quick for a rear wheel drive car. It’s a tenth and six tenths respectively quicker than the already ballistic 720S. The downside is a slightly lower Vmax of 206 miles an hour, but I’ll take acceleration over top speed any day

I’m not on the Autobahn. Now let’s slow things down just for a moment so that I can suggest another small investment that comes with big benefits. That’s right, a subscription to the Hagerty Driver’s Club. It comes with an award-winning magazine, unlimited access to the valuation tool, and 24/7 roadside assistance. Plus you’d be helping to support these films. Right, full speed ahead. 740 brake horsepower, 590 pounds foot of torque. And that shorter final drive meaning it’s 10% quicker in gear, it just makes the whole car feel more angry, more alive. So a few things to mention about the specifics of this car. We have Trofeo R tires on it, which are now an option for 750S from the factory.

This car, as you can see, also has the sort of Senna bucket seats, so the ultimate seats that they offer. Each of these seat shells weighs a remarkable 3.3 kilos. In fact, there’s lightweighting all over the car. The ultralight forged shallow wheels save 13.8 kilos.

The new springs and dampers are two kilos lighter. The new exhaust is 2.2 kilos lighter. The 20% bigger rear wing is 1.6 kilos lighter. The windscreen is also 1.6 kilos lighter. Even the instrument binnacle is 1.8 kilos lighter. On its ultimate diet, the dry weight can be pared back

To just 1,277 kilos or 2,815 pounds. That’s 193 kilos feathery than the 296 GTB, if you were wondering. And then finally, we also have the upgraded brake package on this, which we’ll come back to in a bit, but is essentially derived from the brakes that they perched on the Senna.

So they’ve got the Senna discs and then the monoblock calipers that that has as well. Apart from the Artura, braking performance has been a real highlight on McLarens. This is no exception, they’ve changed brake boosters. I mean that was a 200 meter board and I’ve braked miles too early.

It’s such a wonderfully balanced car this, love this crested corner up here. Feel how it likes just to rotate over the curbs through this long right hand on the edge, just really play with the throttle. Through the exit all the way out to the curb and then firing down here.

So I’ve been hitting up to about 280 kilometers an hour, so 170 plus miles an hour down here, new brake booster and bang, oh! Try and trail the brakes into the corner down here. And it’s not just the overall power of the brakes, it’s the feel through the pedal as well. The vacuum pump from the 765LT has also been added for more consistency and to help at higher altitudes in countries like Ecuador. Hello to anyone from Ecuador watching this. Talking of air pressure,

McLaren isn’t claiming much more downforce than the 720S, rather the new splitter and rear wing are more about providing better balance. And then through here is, I think where you really feel the extra sort of aero-stability and balance in this car over 720S. I remember driving both the 720 and Senna around here and how much more stable the Senna was through that quick sort of kink. And whilst this doesn’t have

The absolute locked down feeling of that, it is definitely more, well stable than 720S which could get pretty kind of, well, wild. I’d say this isn’t as larry as 765, you notice that on track it’s just a little bit more friendly. So I’m just gonna take it outta track and put it back into sport for a second just so you can hear it. ’cause the differences are quite interesting. It’s much more of a thump on the upshifts. So it’s more dramatic but definitely for track we want the track mode because it makes everything that much smoother and just means you don’t upset the car as much. Talking of gear shifts, these new paddles or certainly new to me,

Seem like they’re outta the more aggressive end of the cutlery drawer. Then with the track handling motors on this side, it gets about 15% stiffer in track and over sport. You can still take the curbs really nicely, it still rides curbs really well, but you just notice the car move around a little bit more and actually it helps you use those curbs.

And of course you do have the ability to dismiss the ESC entirely, give it a rest, send it for a long lunch. Oh yes, it likes to slide. Given that this is not a track special as such, it feels so confidence inspiring yet also kind of really playful and adjustable. This is no way a prescriptive car in terms of how it has to be driven. So the 750S is better than ever on track. It’s taken a big step towards the 765LT in fact, while retaining a greater feeling of approachability. But has this compromised it on the road? Time to switch blues from ludus to tanzanite and switch roofs from Coupe to Spider.

The first thing to notice on the road is the fact that, well, this is still a comfortable car. The 720S was remarkable in its ability to soak up bumps and be a sort of GT car really. I think I described this as a sort of mid engine rival

To a 911 Targa because it had that usable supercar feel and this still has that. It is a little bit firmer than 720 I think, but certainly not to the extent you think, “Oh, I won’t take that today.” If anything, it just gives you a little bit more connection

And talking of connection, the steering, obviously one of the big things is that this is one of the last cars to retain hydraulic power assistance and it’s so lovely. The 720S’ steering always sort of annoyed me because it was lovely around the straight ahead, but when you’ve got about this much lock on

Sort of around about 90 degrees, it just seemed to go away from you, it would unweight in a… Well, not very nice way. All the feel would sort of disappear. That no longer happens with the 750, adopting the six millimeter wider front track, faster rack and positive bump stick gradient from the 765LT seems to have sorted it. In addition, the 750S also gets an all new power steering pump. Now a new pump might sound like a relatively little change,

But it meant they had to recalibrate the entire system and was better than ever. (engine revving) That sort of slight weird unweighting was fixed with the 765LT, but this, the weight to it is just wonderful. Now often we can think about, I suppose steering feel, lovely steering, accurate steering

As something that is a tool to a better lap time. But really I think it’s something that can be enjoyed in and of itself. It is intrinsically enjoyable, good steering, and this is fabulous steering. And what it means is that on a road like this not going particularly quickly

Or even just in traffic or around town, you can delight in good steering the way that it just subtly picks up all the messages from the road. It means that for all this car is stunningly quick. You don’t have to be going like a bat outta hell, you don’t have to be indulging in that shorter gearing to still enjoy this car. Something else that I think can be enjoyed at any speed is the seating position in this car. Again, it might sound like a slightly uninteresting thing,

The seating position, but actually in this you feel like one of those line technical drawings where your legs are bent at just the right angle and your arms sit here and that’s pointing it exactly at the center of your chest and then you get the perfect view out as well.

Being tall, I don’t always feel comfortable in every car, but this is just fantastic. Then we’ve got the new binnacle, which was on the Artura as well, which moves the adjustment rockers to up here from down here. I sort of missed the old folding screen because it was a piece of theater

And I like the really even better view out that it gave when it was folded away. The new rocker switches do make more sense for toggling between modes though. And I like the little edition of this button, which lets you save a specific suite of settings. That’s a speedy kiwi, by the way, a stylized interpretation of New Zealand’s famous flightless bird

That was designed by Bruce McLaren’s friend, Michael Turner and was used as McLaren’s logo between 1967 and 1980. Other things to mention, well Apple CarPlay is now present and correct hardly a big deal I know in a car costing £243,500 or $324,000, but its previous absence was a noticeable dent in usability.

Oh, and there’s another new exciting button for the nose lift, mundane I know, but it’ll probably get more use than the ESC button. That is now just four seconds and there’s a button down here, so you don’t have to scroll through all the menus. Previously it was 10 seconds and just a faff.

And again, it’s not a big thing, but if you are doing that every single day, that, you really appreciate that. I know, I know, automotive rhinoplasty, what next? Well, something a bit more emotive. McLaren has made a big thing about improving the sound on this, as you heard on track. Eight (murmurs) water sounds for more of a crescendo and it is definitely better than, well the original 720S was even with a sports exhaust ’cause that was so quiet. It’s still not a screaming naturally aspirated engine. And when you start it up, it’s still a bit of a disappointment for a supercar but… It’s definitely better. And this Spider makes the most of it. Yes, it’s a little old school just having the turbocharge V8 with no hybrid,

But with the legislative need for batteries being pushed back to 2035, this actually seems less of a problem than it would’ve done a couple of years ago. Unless that is you are a customer after the latest tech with the freshest face. There’s no denying that to many new is more exciting,

Interesting and alluring than iterative. And this is definitely the latter. But McLaren is clearly hoping that there will also be those who appreciate refinement, polishing, honing, editing. Have all the small changes had a big effect? No, the butterflies have not caused a storm. But have they made this 750 better than a 720?

(tires screeching) Yes, unquestionably, in fact, seen from another, even more appealing and perhaps appropriate angle, McLaren has made the magnificent 765LT a touch more usable. And that all means the 750S is fantastic and really shouldn’t be overlooked, regardless if you can spot the difference.