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McLaren is one of the few remaining car companies that hasn’t surrendered (yet) to the SUV craze. The brand which was founded by a New Zealander, Bruce McLaren in 1963 in England, has stayed true to their DNA by getting one thing right: making two-door performance cars. They are known to get this one thing right, as evident in the McLaren P1, Senna or the 720s series. I had a chance to test the newest 720s to see how it compares to its competitors and to its previous model.
According to McLaren, the 2021 edition of the 720s has been renewed by up to 90% from the previous year model, which is impressive taking into account that includes the engine and handling. I could be hyperbolic and brief for this review and just share the verdict upfront without much fanfare: the 720s is one of the top 5 best supercars in the world right now, and here is why.
The 720s looks utterly sensational from every angle. It brings beauty and awe to everywhere it goes. It is one of the most beautiful cars in the world and that has a lot to do with its sleek and uninterrupted design, boosted by the numerous air intakes that make the 720s stand out from the rest of the supercars like a 2-meter tall guy in Papua New Guinea.
This car definitely sparks joy in me, and to be honest, to anyone who sees it.
First thing anyone will notices is the outrageous look, which can be quite ominous. It reminds me of the Great white shark or perhaps its predator, the Killer whale chasing prey in the open ocean without loosing pace. Clearly this being a supercar, there is carbon everywhere, in the superbly named Aero spoiler which optically looks ever so satisfying, to the windscreen pillars that are surprisingly thin (opens up the visibility immensely) and there is even carbon on the roof, obviously. All this extra carbon sheds crucial kilos and helps create the supernatural handling of the 720s, and I mean it really feels supernatural. The way the 720s gorges on corners and communicates the road to the driver is beyond anything I’ve experienced before, its engineering witchcraft at its best. There are plenty of details for detail-obsessed geek like me, such as the stunning engine bay which glows theatrically red when the lights are on or the pebble-like key which fits snuggly into the tiny key pocket in the front seat and my favourite, tiny sun glass pocket inside the driver door which remains closed when the doors are up.
On the head-turning scale, it definitely matches the Ferrari 488 and the spectacular Lamborghini Huracan, maybe even surpasses them. The inclining low front ground clearance cuts an even more predatory look. I love staring at 720s front lights, which are surrounded by large air intakes that tie together a composed, future proof appearance that will surely remain relevant even 20 years from now. Every bit of this car is just phenomenal to stare at, however, my favourite part of the 720s has to be the rear tail which is sublimely made with intricate details that visualise the power and sound the 720s is capable of producing. Few car brands put so much effort into making the backside so elaborate than McLaren. Large carbon (of course) grills adorn the large exhaust pipes, which are big enough to fit my fist in by the way, summoned together with one-line tail lights that just look the business. Then there is the main party piece, the reason 50% of buyers go for a McLaren; the dramatic butterfly doors, which swing up gently emitting a subtle swoosh while they open. These doors are not a very easy things to make, it requires space program level engineering and quality control, and above anything else, courage to keep making them when many other car companies have stopped doing so.
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Entry into the 720s is made comfortable by generous cavities into the roof which helps a human like me, who is nimble as a hippopotamus, seem almost graceful on entry and exit. These cavities wander into the top of the door that are adorned with glass panels that bring in quite a bit of light inside. It is details like these that make the 720s so attractive and easy to fall in love with.
Second, there is the performance, which is the Koh-i-noor diamond of the 720s crown. The 710 horsepower 4-litre V8 (midengine) moves this 1400 kilogram two-seater from 0 to 100 km/h in just 2.8 seconds, and to 200 km/h in just under 7 seconds, reaching the top speed of 341 km/h (which we achieved on the German highway) effortlessly. While in the top speed the sound the V8 engine transmits is like being inside the cathedral of Leon (in Spain) with a Formula 1 car from 2008 while AC/DC plays Thunderstruck…heavenly indeed.
I’m not sure how it feels to drive a Formula 1 car in 2021, but I would imagine it feels a lot like driving the 720s. One of my favourite sounds in the world is hearing the downshifting of an V8 engine, and the 720s didn’t disappoint. The thunderclap sound the 720s blasts from downshifting is quite thrilling and is now my ringtone. There is plenty of power in the 720s, in fact, I don’t see a reason why you should need more than 710 hp, good example is if we compare the 720s to its bigger and more expensive brother the P1, which has only 17 horsepower on the 720s but costs about €1.2 million more.
The third is the sublime handling, which is just astronomical and is boosted by an exceptional driving position. I need to highlight the grip again, as it is simply staggering, so much so that it feels more like a four-wheel drive. In fact I had hard time believing it wasn’t a four-wheel drive. The 720s can be mellow also, well within reason, as in the comfort mode the 720s delivers a fairly comfortable urban driving experience taking into consideration that you are carrying a land fighter-jet capable of producing more power than a coal power plant. In the sports mode, however, the 720s opens up the valves and creates more of the joyful sound we are used to hear from a McLaren while stiffening the suspension and the steering wheel that delivers more precise driving and sportier connection to the road. And then there is the track mode, which realistically should be renamed “Loco mode”. “The Loco” mode starts the show with a little magic trick by revolving the instrument panel into a one line display that shows only the speed and revolutions. And then you hit the accelerator which unleashes the beast and throws you into every final scene of Mission Impossible movies, you’re only missing Tom Cruise screaming for his dear life on the passenger seat. The fire and fury that is released by the 710 horsepower engine will leave you for a brief moment breathless as your heart and rest of your organs have an outside of the body experience, while the brain forces your face to smile in horror, pleasure and shock all at the same time. The feeling of driving the 720s in track mode is what life is all about, living life to the fullest.
It’s not all roses though, the infotainment system is not as advanced or intuitive as a Ferrari or a Porsche, and seat comfort leaves more to be desired and the lack of android auto or apple play is annoying. However, these cons are minuscule compared to its pros.
I believe supercars should be also super impressive and continue doing something extraordinary, which the 720s does with its revolving instrument display and those superb flying doors and the concert of V8 engine. The infotainment system and the interior space (no glovebox..) are the very few areas where the 720s lags behind its competitors, but it does have a generous boot, or should we say fronk (front trunk) space, which took in a medium-sized luggage in the front space to our surprise.
The starting price for the 720s is around €260.000, however, our test car had over €100.000 worth of extras making the total price of the test unit a staggering €370.000 ($438.000)… The Porsche 911 Turbo S starting price is at €175.000 (640 hp), Ferrari F8 spider starts at €250.000 with 710 hp and the Lamborghini Huracan Evo starts at €170.000 with 610 hp and the Lamborghini Aventador starts from an eye-watering €350.000 with 729 hp (although that has a bigger 6.5-litre engine). The 720s power and pricing are on par with these breathtaking supercars, however, none of them have butterfly doors and that will forever be your best street credibility trick.
The verdict should not come as a surprise, the McLaren 720s is sensational from every point of view. The sound it emits is heavenly, the performance is absurd and the aesthetics are astounding. If you are considering buying a supercar that performs like a hypercar but won’t cost you millions, then the 720s should be on top of your list.