In Depth

McLaren 720S: The 'wonderfully ridiculous' supercar

Latest addition to the Super Series range gets a bigger engine to do 0-62mph in 2.8secs

McLaren's all-new 720S supercar will boast a zero to 62mph time to rival the company's P1 hypercar. 

The latest addition to the firm's popular "Super Series", which made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show, replaces the three-year-old 650S and joins the line-up between the entry-level 540C and the million-pound P1. 

It has been built around McLaren's second-generation carbon fibre chassis, which encases the whole of the cockpit in a single mould for better structural rigidity. The first generation cockpit, used by the MP4-12C and 650S, only covered the lower half of the cockpit.

McLaren's new supercar will reach the UK in May, with prices starting from a little more than £208,000.

Here's everything we know so far.

Design

McLaren has completely redesigned its Super Series car and introduced a new eye socket-style front-end, which AutoExpress says channels airflow around the headlights for improved cooling. The cluster is divided into two air ducts that are separated by a thin daylight LED strip. 

The new design also axes the side intakes from the 650S, replacing them with two ducts on either side of the cockpit. Two small inlets are also positioned lower down and further back from the doors, reducing the turbulence around the wheel arches and generating downforce.

At the rear is a body-width wing and airbrake, which is automatically activated to either increase downforce or reduce drag. McLaren claims the added downforce is "more than double" that of the 650S. 

Chassis and suspension

McLaren is renowned for high-tech, hydraulically-connected dampers, which controlled by "an on-board management system allows independent movement when a more comfortable ride is required", says Evo

The system appears on the 720S, although it gets McLaren's latest chassis control. The upgrade comes with "12 additional sensors, including an accelerometer at each corner to measure the wheel speed” - as well as "two pressure sensors per damper", adds the magazine.

This equates to around a six per cent increase in mechanical grip over the car's predecessor and can be tweaked through the car's Comfort, Sport or Track driving modes, says AutoExpress

Along with the chassis upgrades, McLaren has improved the brakes over the outgoing 650S, helping the 720S go from 62mph to a complete standstill in 2.8secs, says Top Gear, while braking from 186mph to zero comes around in just 6.9secs.

While manufacturers such as Ferrari and Porsche have moved over to electric steering, continues the site McLaren has used a hydraulic system designed to provide a similar feeling to the track-focused 675LT, which has"the best steering of any road car".

Performance 

The 720S gets a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, which is a departure from the old 3.8-litre V8 that has powered every McLaren road car since 2011. With a power output of 710bhp and 568lb-ft of torque, the new motor has 54bhp and 62lb-ft more than the 650S. 

Power is channelled to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic gearbox, launching the 720S from zero to 62mph in a P1-rivalling 2.8secs and on to a top speed of 212mph. New brakes and tyres also allow the car to stop from 124mph in a claimed 4.6secs. 

In addition, a host of driving modes allows owners to play with the power. For example, McLaren's "variable drift control" reduces the car's traction and stability control to allow for a degree of wheel spin.  

Reviews

As a replacement for McLaren's outgoing 650S supercar, the 720S is "nothing short of exemplary" and "another amazing leap for a brand that seems to have come a very long way in a relatively short space of time", AutoExpress says.

Its substantial overhaul has seen a complete redesign of the exterior, with the old car's large intakes scrapped in favour of more compact side vents while dihedral doors, inspired by the company's F1 hypercar, have been added.

The completely changed front end features two large holes around the headlights. It's a design that may split opinion, says Car, but it does offer aerodynamic benefits at higher speeds.

Despite the extensive tweaks McLaren has made, the magazine claims the 720S is still incorporates the company's "everyday supercar" philosophy.

"The hydraulic suspension ensures an excellent ride" and there's also "stacks of luggage space", it adds. Owners get 150 litres of space in the front and 210 litres in the rear, which combined is more than what's on offer in a Ford Focus hatchback.

The 720S is "utterly absurd" and "wonderfully ridiculous", says Autocar, and McLaren has managed to give the car a massive amount of power without it feeling "uncontrollable" or overpowered. 

This is largely helped by the coupe's ability to absorb bumps and rough surfaces with ease, all while "retaining maintaining mammoth control of its body". There's "little lean when turning" and the nose rarely dives under braking. 

CarBuyer agrees it's among the "most responsive" and "poised" cars around, but says it "transforms into a quiet, smooth long-distance cruiser when you ease off". 

Drivers get "a panoramic view of the road thanks to elegantly slim windscreen pillars" while the "advanced interior" is dominated by a "motorsport-influenced instrument pod that transforms from to a busier, more informative display when you’re on the open road".

While Evo says the 720S is "sensationally quick", it adds the car is let down by a "lack of an exciting engine note". The 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 motor produces "a lot of hissing and wooshing", but isn't as "thrilling" as a supercar should be. 

Nevertheless, concludes the site, the 720S is a "faster" and "more capable" car than its 650S predecessor, with ride comfort and handling that are on "another level".

Price and release

Orders have already opened, with prices starting from £208,600. That's around £8,000 more than the 720S's predecessor and nearly £75,000 more than the entry-level 540C. 

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