RE: McLaren 720S: Driven

Friday 20th October 2017

McLaren 720S: Driven

On British roads - and roads only - in the new Super Series McLaren; can 720hp really make sense?



Once upon a time, and it wasn't all that long ago, the notion of 720hp in an everyday road car was ludicrous. It would be undriveable on the public highway, require superhero reflexes to get the best from and need a service every other Wednesday. Now we have a car in the middle of McLaren's supercar range with 720hp available to anybody with £220K and a driving licence and, for a precious 45 minutes, it's ours to drive in the UK.


You'll presumably know a fair bit about the 720S already (get a refresh here if required), its overhauled engine, new Proactive Chassis Control and reduced weight thanks to a Monocage (instead of a Monocell). And, well, its styling too.

Do you like it yet? Away from a racetrack crammed with them, the 720S looks impossibly dramatic just pottering around Sussex villages, a full-on supercar and, even in brown, properly exciting. There's so much going on to draw the eye in, various louvres, intakes and gills, the whole thing a fascinating amalgam of science and style. It's better away from a motor show stand and certainly to these eyes more appealing in a darker colour - another mention for brown - but, to be honest, a 488 GTB is still a bit prettier. Sorry.

That's not only an apology because it's a hugely subjective judgement, but also because so much of what the 720S does is damn near brilliant that a criticism looks almost churlish; a complaint for the sake of it, to deny it a flawless report card. There are other minor quibbles, in fact, but we'll save those for later.


To the positives then, because there are plenty. This is a much more luxurious McLaren than we've become used to, the interior characterised by rich materials impeccably put together. And, more than that, McLaren's minimalist design feels to have come of age here, the centre console still uncluttered yet now entirely befitting of a car that can very easily be optioned to £250K. From the speaker integration, to the stitching, to the way the instrument panel so elegantly folds away, the 720S looks, feels, smells and excites like a really expensive supercar, even when you're not going anywhere. That's in addition to what's so good about a McLaren interior already, with fantastic visibility, a superb driving position and - nerdy observation though it is - a very good steering wheel.

For the first few miles on the road, while for all the world you're trying to think about the Monocage, the Proactive Chassis Control and the new infotainment, the performance still dominates. In an all consuming, unrelenting, inescapable way - you can think of nothing else but how this McLaren accelerates so furiously. Need numbers? This car has been timed by Autocar to 100mph in 5.6 seconds, or faster than a Civic Type R gets to 60mph. Seriously.


Moreover, this overhauled M480T engine improves in key areas over the old 3.8. Twin scroll turbos are now used and the pistons are lighter, as are the crank and the con-rods. As you might expect therefore, this has given the car a livelier, more energetic character, the throttle more responsive to inputs and the car more urgent at all revs, the engine feeling to have less inertia to it. There is still some lag here, and it can actually be quite exciting to feel it boost in higher gears, though the key is that this engine is an improvement from the 650S as something to interact with. And good grief is it quick.

There's still plenty to enjoy should a police car be heading up your queue of traffic though. Isn't it annoying when that happens? This is certainly a more focused car than the 650S; it's still very comfortable to pootle around in with the Active Dynamics Panel dials set to their most relaxed, yet it lacks the spooky ability of the old car to feel like it's driving on porcelain. It's definitely a well set compromise, the 720S always involved but not overly intense and - cliche alert - works beautifully with a British B-road. Whether you're behind a police car, a tractor, or have a few minutes to yourself.

The steering is still fabulous, detailed and delicate at all speeds. The weight of both pedals could not be improved and being able to see out so well is great for boosting confidence. Because of what the car is telling you, what you know about the car and what you can see of the road, you're very swiftly put at ease in the McLaren. Which seems an absurd statement to write about a rear-wheel drive, 720hp car - they might be more common than ever, but surely they must still be spiky and awkward?


Not so here. With the Handling dial in Sport there's a superbly executed ESP Dynamic mode; before that there's some leniency below the traction control's threshold where you can just feel the wheels overspeeding slightly. It's tremendously exciting, and proof that McLaren really does care about the fun, subjective side of making a stupendously fast car - you can get something back from it at ordinary speeds, despite its extraordinary ability.

That's of course a familiar, bordering on the repetitive, observation about McLarens now. What's key with the 720S though is that the bar has been raised everywhere: it's more visceral, more engaging, more involving. Oh yes, and faster. Ally those attributes with a gorgeous interior and, as mentioned on the launch, increased track ability, and you have a supercar of incredibly broad reach and appeal. This is all McLaren knows and does well, from 570GT to P1, distilled and concentrated into one package; if you've read or seen anything of what's been wittered on about those in the past few years, you'll know what an awesome end product the 720S therefore represents.

And those niggles? The infotainment screen is vastly improved from before, but it's still not perfect. One or two graphics looked a bit low rent and the sat-nav mistook a bridleway for a road on our brief drive. And despite the enhancements, it would be a stretch to call the engine a true great as the 488's is that bit sharper again. Crikey is it close though.

As for choosing between McLaren and Ferrari, it would be impossible without a direct comparison. And that's not going to happen any time soon. Right now, fairly fresh from the drive and totally enthralled by it, the 720S would just get the nod; tomorrow it could be the Ferrari - it really is that tight. Whatever, both are staggering, superlative, sensational supercars that would be a joy to own; and that's an absolute pleasure to write.

Inspired? Buy a McLaren 720S here


MCLAREN 720S
Engine
: 3,994cc, twin-turbo V8
Transmission: 7-speed SSG, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 720@7,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 568@5,500rpm
0-62mph: 2.9sec
Top speed: 212mph
Weight: 1,419kg (fluids +90 per cent fuel)
MPG: 26.4
CO2: 249g/km
Price: £218,020 ( As tested £265,210 comprised of £18,20 for Argon special paint, £2,220 for exterior door upper in Gorilla glass, £5,650 for Carbon fibre exterior upgrade pack 1 including hood vents, rear fender air intakes and door mirror casings, £8,890 for Carbon fibre exterior upgrade pack 2 including front splitter and rear bumper, £3,080 for 5 twin-spoke lightweight forged wheels, £1,550 for Titanium liquid metal finish, £1,100 for polished brake calipers, £3,990 for visible body structure in Carbon fibre, £2,220 for Carbon fibre primary components including window switch and active dynamics panel surround and steering wheel clasp, £2,730 for electric and heated memory seats, £3,180 for Carbon fibre seat backs, £3,540 for Bowers and Wilkins 12-speaker audio, £1,000 for front and rear parking sensors, £1,030 for rear-view camera, £2,480 for 360-degree park assist, £2,070 for vehicle lift and £640 for vehicle tracking system)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

Murphy16

Original Poster:

229 posts

23 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
I wasn't a fan of the looks when it first came out, but in that colour it certainly does grow on me.

Bencolem

464 posts

180 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Do like this. One thing you don't really mention is the engine / intake / exhaust note. Does it still sound like an industrial vacuum cleaner?

Amazed there are 6 for sale in your classifieds already!

Gus265

166 posts

74 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
I just couldn't live with that front end. So Ferrari for me please.

The Crack Fox

13,390 posts

133 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
That's not public highway, that's the service road from the paddock in the very private grounds of Goodwood.

Guffy

2,198 posts

206 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Murphy16 said:
I wasn't a fan of the looks when it first came out, but in that colour it certainly does grow on me.
It's a good colour, but £18k good?

There are a couple of angles that don't flatter for me, lovely cabin though.

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suffolk009

3,949 posts

106 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
I have to subjectively disagree with you about the Ferrari looking better. To my eye the 488 is an over-styled mess. A bit too try-hard.

Also, this car looks more grey than brown on my screen.

Axionknight

8,387 posts

76 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
The Crack Fox said:
That's not public highway, that's the service road from the paddock in the very private grounds of Goodwood.
Busted hehe

dazwalsh

4,293 posts

82 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Well this just got promoted a good way up the want list. Agreed it looks a LOT better on the roads than previous images I've seen of it.

ocrx8

729 posts

137 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Another day another McLaren article. In recent weeks we’ve had:

720S
Brutal P15
Delivery miles F1
MSO special edition (yet another)
F1 owners tour
P1 revisited
BP23

sleep

Edited by ocrx8 on Friday 20th October 08:14

blasos

220 posts

103 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
I'm a big fan of Ferraris, but I've got to say that McLaren has nailed it here. I think it looks so sharp and next-generation, as well as being biblically fast (check out YouTube drag races).

outspan

63 posts

37 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Guffy said:
It's a good colour, but £18k good?

There are a couple of angles that don't flatter for me, lovely cabin though.
Well it says 18,20 in the article, cheap paint!

The design is striking and modern but pretty, no.

Interesting to see brown is the new white for performance cars after being last seen on a Vauxhall Carlton.

suffolk009

3,949 posts

106 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
ocrx8 said:
Another day another McLaren article. In recent weeks we’ve had:

720S
Brutal P15
Delivery miles F1
MSO special edition (yet another)
F1 owners tour
P1 revisited
BP23

sleep

Edited by ocrx8 on Friday 20th October 08:14
I'm happy.

spikyone

306 posts

41 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
blasos said:
I'm a big fan of Ferraris, but I've got to say that McLaren has nailed it here. I think it looks so sharp and next-generation, as well as being biblically fast (check out YouTube drag races).
Agree entirely - visually, this is a generation ahead of the 488 GTB, which to my eyes looks like a 458 Italia with middle-age spread. The 720S's styling was truly jarring when it was first shown, but part of that was probably the fact that it genuinely looks like nothing else on the road. I don't have a quarter of a million to drop on a car, sadly, but I'd struggle to look past this. The one that went up the hill at Goodwood looked like a full-blown race car in that lovely blue. cloud9


Raudus42

151 posts

74 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
blasos said:
I'm a big fan of Ferraris, but I've got to say that McLaren has nailed it here. I think it looks so sharp and next-generation, as well as being biblically fast (check out YouTube drag races).
Ditto - and remember when the F12 was introduced...700+bhp was seen as too much by some.

Volcano Red with deep gold rims for me please.

GranCab

1,444 posts

87 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
I had a test drive in a 720S ( and a 570 Spider ) a couple of weeks ago.

The 570's brakes were useless on the road at normal speeds and there's not enough room for a tall driver to get comfortable and the interior is a bit dull, it drives and steers well but sounds crap. Not a car to fall in love with. 7/10

The 720's brakes felt far more 'normal' at road speeds - far easier to modulate, again it rode and steered nicely but ... the road noise from the rear - due to the open deck - was irritating to the point of being a deal breaker, again an uninspiring noise from the powerplant.
This particular car was full of warning lights for engine management, tyre pressures etc. - despite being shipped directly from McLaren for the occasion. 6.5/10


Frimley111R

9,550 posts

175 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Lovely of course but Ferrari do much much nicer interiors. The McLaren's tend to sit between basic track car interior and the Ferrari but they are improving.

smilo996

1,492 posts

111 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Very impressive even if the looks are really challenging.

smilo996

1,492 posts

111 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
The Crack Fox said:
That's not public highway, that's the service road from the paddock in the very private grounds of Goodwood.
So perhaps they took the photos somewhere easy to take the photos like....Goodwood and then drove it around the roads to be found outside....Goodwood for 45 mins. Wow.

f1ten

1,804 posts

94 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
you sound like me! tell it as it is!
Ive driven 650s spider and 570S coupe. My biggest grumble coming from Ferrari (sorry to mention but adds important angle to my view) is the noise.

As pistonheads say, if your stuck behind a police car... Well there aren't many roads in the entire 70 mile radius south of London where you can get the foot down during mid day onwards and this thing is so fast that you need to have another distraction to keep yourself interested... this is where a nice soundtrack and exhaust come in... some unnecessary down shifts and squirts to get a bit of a symphony going.

I cant fault the performance or handling or its ability to soak up bumps and I even do like the minimalist interior being something different from Ferrari (although again not as well finished as the Italian)

its a fabulous car and I might consider one (when they are 5 yrs old and depreciated smile ) but for on road kicks a 458 or f12 pulls more strings...

GranCab said:
I had a test drive in a 720S ( and a 570 Spider ) a couple of weeks ago.

The 570's brakes were useless on the road at normal speeds and there's not enough room for a tall driver to get comfortable and the interior is a bit dull, it drives and steers well but sounds crap. Not a car to fall in love with. 7/10

The 720's brakes felt far more 'normal' at road speeds - far easier to modulate, again it rode and steered nicely but ... the road noise from the rear - due to the open deck - was irritating to the point of being a deal breaker, again an uninspiring noise from the powerplant.
This particular car was full of warning lights for engine management, tyre pressures etc. - despite being shipped directly from McLaren for the occasion. 6.5/10

lee_fr200

2,907 posts

131 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
I don't mind the front but side on it looks long but a weird shape! Would prefer the 675lt or a 12c with the 720s engine
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