Four years after the 720S rewrote the supercar rulebook, it remains an example for McLarens competitors
With the widest breadth of dynamic capability of any McLaren and design inspiration drawn from the great white shark, the 720S is no supercar follower, but its own beast. The mid-engine 4.0-liter twin turbo V8 produces 710 hp and will take you from 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds, accelerating all the way up to 211 mph.
The Monocage II chassis structure is more rigid and lighter than previous models, keeping the car nimble in the corners. Indeed, the 720S is the pure distillation of what it means to be a McLaren. Elite Traveler and Spear’s explore why the McLaren 720S changes the definition of “supercar”.
Although the 720S, all 710 hp at 7,250 rpm, defies some superlatives and certainly excites, it’s worth noting that, when this vehicle originally debuted at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, it launched McLaren’s $1.4bn new model investment plan. As the first of an exciting range of new models, not only did this car serve as a glimpse of coming attractions, but also planted a flag for the brand and its innovative future.
In the five years since its premiere, the automobile has not undergone any major changes. Speedtails, longtails, hybrids and other models have since rounded out McLaren’s lineup, but the 720S remains steadfast.
A testament to the talent and commitment to innovation at work in the company headquarters in Surrey, England, the twin-turbo, dry-sump, 90-degree V8, displacing 4.0 liters, succeeded in its initial endeavor. That’s not to say McLaren is opposed to tinkering, quite the opposite when the vehicle calls for it.
Redefining ‘supercar,’ the 720S created McLaren’s modern design language. Air intakes were built into the LED headlamp clusters – at the time quite a contentious move – and the rear pop-up spoiler doubled as a striking airbrake.
While many manufacturers have oft cited parts of a shark as inspiration (nose, gills, tail), the stance of the 720S; long, wide, outfitted with a glass-coated cockpit (that conveniently offers its driver a near 360-degree view thanks to an advanced composite structure that allows for slimmer A-pillars and glazed C-pillars) almost mirrors that shark, out of water. It also executes McLaren’s ‘everything for a reason’ philosophy. A teardrop/shark nose shape is naturally aerodynamically efficient.
McLaren’s decision to use electro-hydraulic power steering for feel and feedback also aged well. Working closely with the vehicle’s Active Dynamics, responses sharpen depending on a flick of the dial. Each of the three modes recalibrates the handling, powertrain, gearshifts and suspension. The result is a totally different set of responses.
Opt for Comfort and a greater sense of relaxed (albeit centered) serenity emerges. Engage Sport or Track, and there’s a focused, contained power.
Further leaning into track mode, the 720S can be optioned with the MSO Defined Titanium Harness Bar. Bespoke to the 720S, it’s mounted behind the seats, designed as the ultimate anchor for MSO Defined 6-Point Harnesses. As McLaren says, extreme performance with unrivaled safety.
Should country roads be the desired choice, the car steers beautifully there as well. Unlike some track-focused supercars, the 720S isn’t overwhelming to handle, another marvel considering the driver can feel equally at home on the track or in the local supermarket parking lot (lest we forget the ever-important nose-lifting button.)
The iconic dihedral doors add drama but also prove pragmatic for those tight-fitting parking spaces. They also optimize accessibility to the cabin and rear storage area and, of course, continue the bloodline links to the original McLaren F1.
The McLaren 720S can cover a quarter of a mile in 10.4 seconds. From a standing start. Sure, there’s raw power but also careful planning. The engine is positioned as low as possible between the front and rear axles, maintaining ideal weight distribution and lowering the center of gravity. The Proactive Chassis Control II system intelligently optimizes ride comfort, keeping the car flat and composed in every corner.
So, five years on, the 720S in both Coupe and Spider iterations continues to set the benchmark for what a supercar can deliver – both on the road, and at the track.
Contact the McLaren Concierge at: NAexperiences@McLaren.com