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