What do you get the supercar that has everything? McLaren must have been thinking about that question when it came time to give the already rather good 720S a bit of a midlife refresh. The answer is more power, less weight, and a raft of updates here and there that make the new McLaren 750S more useable but also even better on track, if that's your thing.
Starting from a standard configuration, a 750S weighs 3,062 lbs (1,388 kg), 66 lbs (30 kg) less than the car it's replacing. But if you select the right combination of options, from single-piece carbon fiber racing seats to titanium wheel bolts, you can trim that down even further—McLaren says to as little as 2,815 lbs (1,277 kg), but that's a dry weight.
Regardless, the all-carbon fiber construction results in a car that's both very stiff and lighter than the competition. And the penalty for switching to a retractable hardtop roof is just 108 lbs (50 kg), although it does bring the car's center of gravity up a smidge.
It might be worth it just for the better soundtrack. The engine is a 4.0 L twin-turbo V8 that now generates 740 hp (552 kW) and 590 lb-ft (800 Nm), and if you have the powertrain set to sport mode, the center-mounted exhaust will pop and crackle pleasingly on part throttle. There are lightweight pistons from the limited-run 765LT, and the 750S will rev to 8,500 rpm, which is impressive for a turbocharged engine.
As with all McLarens, the new 750S uses a dual-clutch (SSG, or seamless shift gearbox in McLaren-speak) transmission, which drives the rear wheels. The shifts are faster than before and (intentionally) a little violent in sport mode. Switch to track mode and that goes away. Equally, leave the powertrain in comfort mode and you can drive the McLaren like it has a slushmatic fitted back there; those seamless gearshifts are barely perceptible if you're just puttering along.
It's actually comfortable in that duty if you've also set the handling to normal. This car still features the company's interconnected front and rear hydraulic suspension system (described in some detail back when we tested the 650S). Now also familiar to Rivian owners, it was banned in Formula 1, but that sport's loss is the 750S driver's gain. The sport setting was acceptable on Portugal's smooth highways but a little too stiff for the more pockmarked roads around Estoril.
For circuit work, you obviously want both powertrain and handling set to track. This gives you the most direct throttle mapping, the fastest gearshifts, and the quickest reactions from the suspension. The cars McLaren brought to Estoril were fitted with the optional 15.4-inch (392 mm) carbon ceramic brake discs, similar to the ones that stop the McLaren Senna. They performed notably well on track; I saw at least 27-something km/h on the digital dash before braking into turn 1, which felt rather fast, but they slowed the car with no fuss or fade all afternoon.
It's interesting how different a sub-3 second launch feels in a lightweight V8-powered supercar compared to a very fast electric vehicle. McLaren says the 750S will do 0–60 mph in 2.7 seconds (0–100 km/h in 2.8 seconds), which more than a few EVs can match or beat. None feel quite as... fizzy in the process. It's the best word I can think to describe the mix of organ-shifting acceleration plus the various vibrations from the rear tires as they struggle to keep traction and the engine as it climbs toward its rev limit.