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The new McLaren 720S has a carbon tub, a suspension setup akin to a science experiment and the performance of a hypercar.

04 Jan 2019



'Bang for buck' and 'supercar' aren't words you'd often see in the same sentence but with the McLaren 720S, they're about as fitting as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in her activewear.

Replacing the 650S in 2017, the 720S continues McLaren's philosophy of an engineering-led design, which shines through in every part of the car. In fact, with the amount of electronic wizardry fitted and the performance figures it boasts, the 720S infringes on hypercar territory, albeit priced as a supercar.

The new 720S is faster and even more dynamically capable than its 650S predecessor

The 720 in 720S

Powered by McLaren's M840T twin-turbocharged, 4.0-litre V8 engine, it's capable of 720PS or 710bhp, hence its name. Peak torque is rated at a ludicrous 770Nm; 100km/h from standstill takes just 2.9 seconds and it will blaze on to 200km/h in another five.

To put that into context, the 720S has proven to be faster than the entire hypercar trinity - the Ferrari LaFerrari, the McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918 Spyder - in a quarter mile.

Plant your foot firmly on the throttle and the 720S will give you but a brief moment to prepare yourself for the explosive rush that will follow. When that happens, your mind goes blank for a second or two while you're pushed back into your seat in with the same sort of effect a rollercoaster has on kids.

The engine bay is illuminated so that the head of the block can be seen sporting the McLaren emblem

An angry rush of forced air accompanies the experience and you'll hear the wastegate's flutter as it vents that excess pressure as you let off the throttle.

Before you know it, you're a speed camera away from losing your license. The rush is intoxicating and addictive, but you'd want to do it all over again, even if it lacks the stirring soundtrack sung by an AMG or a Ferrari V8.

Still, it has a character of its own. While other supercar makers are tirelessly working towards eliminating turbo lag, McLaren seems to think otherwise. It acknowledges instead that big power requires big turbos, and lag or not, it's superior performance that counts at the end of the day.

Deceleration from 100km/h to standstill can be achieved in less than 30m, thanks to its capable brakes

Carbon beauty

Still, while its brutish behaviour may be considered somewhat rudimentary to naysayers, the rest of the car is anything but.

The architecture of the 720S is based on a new carbon fibre tub and upper structure, dubbed Monocage II. McLaren says it's even more rigid than the 650S and, of course, lighter as well. Its lightest dry weight is 1,283kg, 18kg less than the equivalent 650S.

A carbon fibre structure, Monocage II, is at the core of the 720S

And married to the chassis are four hydraulic dampers and before you go thinking that those aren't revolutionary by McLaren's reputation, here's where it gets interesting.

There are sensors built in to read a myriad of variables like speed, rate and amount of wheel deflection, and cornering force.

The results are then fed into a computer, which figures out how much hydraulic pressure should be delivered to each corner, ensuring maximum traction without compromising ride comfort.

Combined with some crazy aero work all around, the result of which is a hypercar-quick track machine that encourages you to push it regardless of conditions, but one that can also double as a grand tourer should you wish.

The full-width wing with airbrake functionality has an optimised motion to improve the downforce

Though it won't exactly glide along, the 720S offers enough compliance even over broken tarmac; so much so that you'll never feel tired driving it. But more than just that, it's really easy to drive, no harder than it would be in a Volkswagen Golf.

And if you're feeling a little more adventurous, there's also a Variable Drift Control (VDC) feature that allows you some sideways thrills on a track, which is the only place you'd be able to experience the car at more than a scant percentage of its potential.

VDC allows the driver to determine the level of traction control assistance and the limit of oversteer

A spaceship on wheels

Of course, all self-respecting supercars will also make you feel special while you're nestled in the cockpit and the 720S is no different. Behind its gullwing doors and teardrop-shaped roof lies a cabin that's ergonomically clever, yet technologically advanced.

Unlike its Italian rivals, there is no unnecessary drama about the way it's been designed and constructed, except for maybe its power-tilting digital instrument display.

Like something out of Blade Runner, it folds away and is replaced with minimal rev-counter and speed-readout information when the car is switched to maximum attack Track mode.

The folding driver display presents the required array of information on a high-definition TFT panel

Otherwise, it's a clean and functional affair, with easy ingress and egress, driver-focused buttons and fantastic visibility all around.

And with a steering wheel that's devoid of controls, you know McLaren wasn't mucking around when creating the 720S; it's all been designed for the clear purpose of performance driving and going stupidly fast.

Best of all, for all its power and tech on tap for you to do that, at $990,000 (as of 21 December 2018, without COE), it still costs less than the Ferrari 488 GTB ($995,000) and the Lamborghini Huracan Performante ($998,000).

A luxurious, driver-focused cabin, featuring the finest leathers and aluminium switches

With hypercar performance for the price of a more affordable supercar, is there any reason for the performance-focused to really want anything else?
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Car Information

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McLaren 720 S 4.0 V8 (A)
Rate it

Price

: $990,000

Engine Type

:

V8 Twin Electrically-actuated Twin Scroll Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

3994cc

Horsepower

:

529kW (710 bhp) / 7250 rpm

Torque

:

770 Nm / 5500 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) SSG

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

2.9sec

Top Speed

:

341km/h

Fuel consumption

:

9.3 km/L

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