McLaren 720S Track Pack Proves That the Second Time is the Charm

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Now-available Track Pack makes the McLaren 720S more appealing to Carfection, but does it fix all of the 720S’s shortcomings?

First impressions are important. It doesn’t matter if you’re meeting your significant other’s parents, a new co-worker, or introducing a bunch of automotive journalists to your new supercar at a track in Italy. McLaren‘s 720S made a first impression on Carfection‘s Henry Catchpole during its media launch at the Autodromo Vallelunga and…it was less than perfect.

According to Catchpole, “There were bits I loved and bits I was very impressed by, but overall, I … didn’t quite gel with it.” First impressions are vital, but second impressions can be helpful. They occur a lot in the world of auto writing — someone who drives a vehicle briefly in a semi-controlled environment during its media introduction often gets the chance to drive it again for several days in a real-world setting. And that’s exactly what happens here. Catchpole gets another opportunity to drive the 720S, but this time, it’s equipped with a Track Pack. As Catchpole points out, “This is not an LT version of a 720S.” The Track Pack doesn’t enhance the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 (which produces 710 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque) or change the suspension. Instead, it adds features such as carbon-fiber bucket seats and forged wheels, both of which shave 53 pounds (24 kilos) from the 720S. McLaren 720S Track Pack Review

Catchpole takes the 720S out on the winding roads of Wales, where he remembers everything he liked about it when he first drove it. Surprisingly, visibility is excellent in every direction. Once he gets into their bite zone, the carbon-ceramic brakes offer fantastic feel. “The other thing, of course, that very quickly becomes apparent is that this is just sensationally fast!” McLaren 720S Track Pack Review

The sound coming out of the 720S’s sport exhaust system seems to have improved since Catchpole’s initial drive. The engine that that’s attached to feels more raw than before. On the other hand, the Proactive Chassis Control II system does a great job of effectively smoothing out rough roads.

But what about the things that initially bothered Catchpole? Has the Track Pack magically done away with them? No. The 720S with the Track Pack is more engaging, but it’s also still too composed and unflappable, even at high speeds. As Catchpole says, “You want to be part of it, not just impressed by it.”

The steering also leaves something to be desired. In tight corners, it doesn’t let Catchpole know how much he’s actually pushing the front end of the car.

So the 720S didn’t win him over with its first two impressions. That’s OK. McLaren and Catchpole still have plenty to talk about – especially when it comes to all of the things the 570S does right.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his JK Forum profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK Forum, H-D Forums, The Mustang Source, Mustang Forums, LS1Tech, HondaTech, Jaguar Forums, YotaTech, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts. Derek also started There Will Be Cars on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

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