In the Spotlight - McLaren 720S {{favouriteCount}} Quantity of Likes

29 Sep 2017

Let’s get one thing straight right from the start – the 720S is not a supercar. It’s generally accepted that the Lamborghini Huracan and Ferrari 488 are supercars, so theoretically the 720S should be as well. But so far ahead of them is the new McLaren that it simply cannot be merely a supercar. But is it a hypercar? Nope, that moniker is reserved for the old guard of the P1, LaFerrari and 918 Spyder, soon to be taken up by the Aston Valkyrie and Mercedes Project One and as good as it is the 720S isn’t at their level. So, what to call it? Well sitting somewhere between super and hyper, I’m going to place the megacar. It may sound a bit cheesy, but it’s all I could come up with.

The thing with the 720S is that it does so much, so well that it really does need to be elevated to another level above the competition. Faster? Check. Better aero? Check. More exotic materials? Check. Better visibility? Check. More practical? Check. Comfier to drive when not pressing on? Check. Same price? Check. But don’t just take my word for it, let’s look at some of those points in more detail.

Faster – well this one is easy. Put quite simply – the 720S will probably embarrass a P1 in most situations - that’s how fast it is. Sitting low in the chassis sits a heavily reworked version of McLaren’s ubiquitous twin turbo V8, here enlarged to 4.0 litres to produce a frankly staggering 710bhp (720PS, hence the name). With a low kerb weight of just 1420kg versus a 488’s 1544kg the 720S would be quicker anyway, let alone with the extra 50bhp. So what this means is you can sprint from zero to 62mph in just 2.8 seconds, hit 100mph in a staggering 5.6 seconds and round out at 212mph. without going into embarrassing details, that’s faster than the Ferrari by a decent margin.

Aero – no, not the chocolate bar. The 720S takes this to another level where the whole car is one big aerodynamic device. There are more intakes and vents than I’ve ever seen on a car, it’s staggering. Starting at the front are the most controversial aspect of the design – the headlights. They really do stand out but for good reason; each one is a large intake drawing air to a radiator behind it. There’s a large lower intake taking air to the brakes and a few vents for good measure. There aren’t the big door-mounted intakes seen on the 650S and 570S, instead the 720S has a double-skinned door, with a deep intake running through it, directing air to the main radiators and a small blade directs the rest over the back of the car to further intakes. That air ends up at the large active rear wing which is now full-width and still works at different angles depending on speed and as an air brake. Below that sits a very impressive diffuser as well.

Design, Visibility and Practicality -  let’s start with McLaren’s USP in the sector; the carbon tub. This is the Monocage II in the 720S and is considerably stiffer than what went before it, with a central brace that runs from the windscreen header to the rear and forms a stiff cage around the driver. This also allows for the doors to be mounted centrally which means part of the roof lifts along with the fancy butterfly doors – this makes access a doddle with no ducking down. The carbon tub also means that they can be cleverer with areas never really thought of before – the c-pillar (which traditionally runs to the back either side of the engine in a mid-engined supercar) is split into two very thin pillars in the 720S with glass in between. Combine this with the huge rear window, the smaller windows ahead of the pillars and the optional glass sections of the roof/door and you have a megacar that affords better visibility than anything this side of a convertible with the roof down. The engine is mounted very low, which means there’s also a massive flat storage area behind the seats that when combined with the large front boot gives enough storage space for a week’s luggage (if you pack light).

Comfort – for all its punishing performance what really stands out when travelling in the 720S in a sedate manner is just how comfortable it is. Thanks to the active suspension and powertrain, you can select Normal on both and it is honestly as comfortable as a large saloon to drive. This is important as when combined with the visibility it means the 720S can be driven far more easily than the rivals day to day. Yet when you want to, turn those dials to Sport and it comes alive, feeling like a lithe, darty sports car that just happens to have over700hp and I capable of covering ground in a manner that would make a Veyron sweat.

You really must feel sorry for Ferrari. The 488GTB came out and was a technical tour de force with active aero, a 660hp twin turbo V8 and crushing performance. But so far ahead is the 720S that the 488 has become almost irrelevant now, and it’s going to be a good few years before it’s replaced. Never mind, I doubt Ferrari are crying into their heavily branded caps. Lamborghini might be worried, but they still have the USP of that glorious naturally aspirated V10 – they should be more worried about the R8 V10 Plus…

The 720S sits in a league of its own, despite being pretty much the same price as the 488GTB and Huracan. I can only imagine what the hardcore version is going to be like, given how much faster and better the 675LT was than the 650S. I’m guessing it’ll have around 750hp and will be the fastest car McLaren have made to date, P1 included (but not the upcoming BP23 or P15 model, they’re going to be even faster!).

The 720S is available for this week only in our competition for just £13 per ticket. So what are you waiting for? You can have the future on your driveway for just £13 – go get it!