First Drive: McLaren 720S

Could this be the perfect supercar?

By the time you’ve finished reading this sentence, a McLaren 720S could have gone from a standstill to 125mph. It’s a performance level that redefines what fast really is, turning it from something that elicits the occasional exclamation of delight to something that sees a foul-mouthed tirade of excitement fill the cabin. It doesn’t so much travel down the road, but rather pulls the horizon nearer in a blurry Star Wars style warp.

In raw figures, it means 0-62mph is despatched in 2.9 seconds, while getting to 124mph takes just 7.8. The 4.0-litre V8 will then take the McLaren on to 212mph. It’s how it does it that matters though, the engine’s metallic howl matched by the high pitched whine of two turbochargers and the Darth Vader-like air intake woosh.

The drama starts before the car is switched on, with achingly cool dihedral doors that swing upwards to reveal a minimalist cabin wrapped in carbon fibre, titanium and Alcantara. Somewhat unnecessarily, there’s a choice of two dashboards; one full size with all the information you’ll ever need, or press a button and watch as it swings out of the way to reveal a track-focused minimalist display showing just revs and speed.

It’s on track that the 720S will undoubtedly feel most at home, as on the public roads it’s a frustrating car to drive. Performance levels are just so high that it always feels restricted, with the rare opportunity to press the loud pedal resulting instantly in driving ban speeds.

It’s fine to drive normally, regardless of the car straining at the leash, as the suspension is reasonably compliant. McLaren’s goal with this new car was to make it as easy to use as the old 540 but as potent on track as the 675LT, and it’s almost succeeded. A new carbon fibre tub adds strength and lightness, while the reworked engine, despite being bigger, is lighter and more responsive. In a digital world, the throttle response is pleasingly analogue, making it easy enough to choose just how many of the 720 horses are needed, while the handling is so direct it feels almost hard-wired to the brain.

Order one now and you’ll be waiting a year for delivery, such is demand, but good things come to those who wait. It might not be the perfect car for the city centre, but for those with the money there’s always the option of renting Silverstone, where it will be epic.

Model Tested: McLaren 720S Luxury
Price: £218,020
Range: £208,600 – £218,020
Top speed: 212 mph
0-62 mph: 2.9 seconds
Power: 720 PS (710 bhp)
Torque: 770 Nm (568 ft lb)
Monthly PCP*: £2,977
Official fuel economy: 26.4 mpg
Road test economy: N/A
CO2 Emissions: 249 g/km
Car Tax: £450 (£1,700 in Year 1)
Insurance group: N/A
* Monthly PCP estimate based on 20% deposit, 36 month term, 5% APR, final payment of 40%.

Phil Huff

Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, DAD.info and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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