Ride and handling
McLaren has worked hard on the 720’s suspension set-up, which is an evolution of the firm’s Proactive Chassis Control. The new control system for the cross-linked hydraulic set-up (which does without anti-roll bars) adds another ECU and a dozen more sensors to know more accurately what the car is doing and what road inputs there are. Using that information, it goes to look-up tables to determine how the car should respond. It’s the fruit of a PhD project that has been in development for five years. It’s said that the superior wheel control it brings improves braking to P1 levels and cornering to trackday-tyre levels, all on the latest spec ‘everyday’ P-Zero with its all-weather performance and ride-enhancing suppleness.
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What’s immediately clear is that there are certainly none of the chassis foibles that characterised the first MP4-12C and, to a lesser degree, the 650S – the sensation that there was occasionally diagonal pitching and that the car wasn’t quite as firmly tied down as it could be.
The feeling that ride comfort was gained at the expense of handling was less the case with the 650S and the 720S moves things to another level with exceptional ride comfort for a supercar and the roll- and pitch-free control you’d expect in the corners. It’s sensationally quick and control is clean and precise.
The steering is sharp and packed with all the feedback you need, while grip levels are sensational. You can lean on the car’s front end with impunity, while in the dry the supple suspension helps deliver remarkable traction. As a result, it’s possible to drive the 720S with the sort of abandon for, say, a Lotus Elise. A big Elise granted, but an Elise nonetheless. Of course, turn off the stability control and you’ll need your wits about you, because the ferocious power delivery and low moment of polar inertia mean the McLaren quickly gets wild, but build up to its limits and the 720S is remarkably approachable.
Turn the wick down a notch and the McLaren is a composed cruiser. The ride does a remarkable job of smoothing out bumps, there’s very little road noise and the engine settles to a background growl. The aircraft canopy style wraparound glasshouse also makes it easy to see out of the 720S, making it a doddle to place on the road and relatively straightforward to park.