Close followers of the car industry will confirm that one of the smallest players in the exotic sports car market, McLaren Automotive, has been remarkably successful in recent times, posting record year after record year.

The news must have shocked some of the bigger names in the supercar segment, but McLaren has quietly been developing some of the most desirable automobiles on the planet with many of them at a reasonable price point, given the class they’re competing in.

Like many other sports supercar manufacturers, McLaren had its beginnings in the auto-racing field. New Zealander Bruce McLaren was a brilliant Grand Prix and sports car driver and won the US GP in 1959 when he was just 22, the youngest ever F-1 winner at that time. In 1963 he founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing in the UK to develop sports racing cars to compete in and later added production cars to the product mix. Tragically, he was killed in a testing accident in 1970 but his company persevered both as a racing team and a road car builder.

McLaren’s new 720S carries on the company’s impressive traditions with outstanding flair and fits comfortably into the super-exclusive 700-plus horsepower club. There are very few sports cars with that kind of power on the world market and they can cost anything up to €2 million.

At the heart of the 720S’s remarkable performance is a new twin-turbo 4.0-litre V-8 that develops a hefty 710-horsepower. Located amidships, it powers the rear wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic that like many rivals in this class, can be overridden manually through the usual steering wheel paddles. Frankly, the car has so much torque at any speed that few drivers will use manual very much, other than on one of the track drives so many circuits offer these days.

One aspect in which McLaren really excels is its chassis and resultant handling and all-around poise. Surprisingly, the car rides much like a luxury saloon under normal conditions and many critics have pointed out that when it comes to handling, the 720S has an edge on rivals from Ferrari and Lamborghini. It’s hard to disagree with them. Incidentally, drivers can choose from Comfort, Sport or Track modes to get the driving experience they seek. Other aids to handling and safety are huge ventilated disc brakes and grippy Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres.

The attention-grabbing bodywork and associated chassis uses a combination of carbon fibre and various aluminium alloys. This is a light car, lighter, in fact, than a Porsche 911 GT3 and not much heavier than a small family saloon. Although the styling will thrill any supercar lover, it gives the driver surprising visibility, not common in a class that often involves the penalty of poor vision. The doors, described as ‘dihedral’ by McLaren, swing outwards and upwards and provide good entry/exit, though some care is needed when parking close to another vehicle. The sinuous lines of the car embody a design language McLaren has been evolving for some years and these days, it’s easy to tell who built the car at first glance.

Interior treatment is about as good as it gets and it’s a wonderful environment in which to get to grips with this amazing sports car. It’s not quite as complicated as that of some rivals, though nothing has been skimped on and there are lots of creature comforts. Instrumentation is all-digital, but that’s the way it is with any racing car these days. Thankfully, the steering wheel is not littered with buttons and other controls, which makes it easier to concentrate on driving.

The 720S is bound to entrench McLaren even more solidly in the supercar market and the future looks bright for the UK company. A £1.2-billion plan was recently announced to go 100 per cent hybrid by 2025, so there’s a lot of excitement on the horizon for McLaren. Cars like the 720S may thus become highly collectible as the years go by and that might be another good reason for buying one.

ENGINE: 4.0-litre V-8 twin turbo 710-horsepower

TRANSMISSION: Seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic with manual override

ACCELERATION: Zero to 100 km/h in 2.9-seconds

TOP SPEED: 341 km/h

I LIKED: Superlative poise and handling. Lightweight carbon/aluminium bodywork. Dramatic styling inside and out, yet very practical. Best in class visibility.

I DIDN’T LIKE: Many buyers in this class would have liked all-wheel drive, but McLaren has developed one of the best mid-engined, rear-wheel drive cars in this class.

MARKET ALTERNATIVES: Mega-horsepower sports cars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Porsche and Mercedes-AMG.

WHO DRIVES ONE? Drivers who want lots of power, but don’t want to sacrifice driveability, comfort or visibility. Owners of McLaren cars who want the latest and greatest.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY: Available now at approximately €320.000