McLaren had people talking when it launched the 720S during the Geneva Motor show. This supercar is constructed on a newly-designed chassis and comes with innovative aerodynamics-leading to some absolutely wild performance claims. We talked to the Head of Marketing for McLaren in the Asia Pacific region, Mr. George Biggs, and he had a number of things to say about the car.
The 720S records some seriously impressive figures. The turbocharged V8 M4080T engine has a power output of 710 horsepower (or 529 kW) and 770 Newton-meters of torque. Over 40% of the components in the internal engine are completely new for the upgraded Super Series flagship. The car can hit 100 kilometers per hour (or 62 miles per hour) in 2.9 seconds. In 7.8 seconds, the car can smash through 200 kilometers per hour (or 124 miles per hour). The top speed of the 720S is 340 kilometers per hour (or 211 miles per hour).
At such speeds, it is hard to stop the car from transforming into a low-flying aircraft, and the McLaren design team does not have the experience of working with large wings or attached aerodynamic elements. The active rear wing remains, but the car has a totally new silhouette. So far it is the most spectacular car produced by the engineers at the McLaren Technology Center (MTC) located in Woking. The 760S comes with air intakes around the headlamps and F1-themed barge boards on the panels of the door.
The elaborately designed diffuser at the back is sheer automotive art-while the minimalist-design brake lights look sensational, even in the photos. However, commenters on the internet were unsure about the design of the car after its unveiling, and most of the criticism was leveled at the headlamps. The light and air intake combination appears to be slightly awkward in photos, and seem to lack the elegance of other supercars such as the Ferrari 488 GTB from the front side.
Biggs asserts that when people begin to understand more about the car’s theory and design basis, they will start to appreciate it much more. He notes that since the launch, the car's headlights have been a controversial and subjective topic. Biggs also explains that after speaking to more people, they have started to understand and appreciate its real purpose. In this way, it has become beautiful owing to its functionality.
Undoubtedly, the front-end looks much better in real life than in pictures. Even though it is hard to explain, the eye socket looks simple and clean in the metal. The MP4-12C, introduced in 2011 was criticized in many quarters for looking slightly sterile and the 650S also found it hard to stand out. But believe us, it is not a concern here. The 720S boasts of a serious presence at the front while the broad rear flanks are enough to leave petrolheads feeling week at the knees. It appears the McLaren design has rediscovered its inspiration, and Ferrari ought to be worried.
Below the skin, the engineers at McLaren have elevated the carbon fiber chassis used in the 650S to a higher level. The driver’s compartment in the preceding Super Series is replaced by the sturdier MonoCage II with added interior space, lower door sills and enhanced outer sight lines.
Biggs points out that the carbon-fiber-based MonoCage II constitutes the car's core structure. He explains that it has several helpful elements since it lowers the car’s center of gravity and enables the developers to reduce driver obstruction. As such, when the driver sits inside and looks behind, they can see straight through the glazed C pillar.
Besides practicality, there are other reasons why McLaren has revamped the MonoCage chassis. The innovative adaptive suspension system uses 12 additional sensors connected to a revised Optimal Controller Algorithm. The system tweaks the damping of each wheel on the go, ensuring a smoother ride on bumpy roads and a stiffer operation when the driver begins to throw the car around. Together with the smarter suspension, the car has a newly-designed Variable Drift Control system that is meant to control oversteering.
According to Biggs, the other thing that stood out as he was testing the car on the streets of Rome, apart from the acceleration and power, was the brakes. He notes that the car’s ability to reduce speed and negotiate corners is absolutely exceptional.
Behind the wheel, the 720S is unmistakably a McLaren. The vertically-oriented Iris touchscreen still occupies the center console, and there are no buttons on the steering wheel. As one would expect, the car is made using high quality materials and the McLaren Special Operations team provides numerous trim finishes. However, the new folding driver display is undoubtedly the star of the show.
It resembles the display found on the 570S and the 675LT in normal drive modes-with information about temperature, speed, revs and infotainment. But if you change into track mode, the entire display revolves to reveal a trimmed-back readout that only displays the speed and revs. While it may be unnecessary, the process is certainly cool.
The McLaren 720S is not cheap, with prices starting at approximately US$250,000 (equivalent to 489,900 Australian dollars). But we believe it has better looks than any previous McLaren, and its driving performance should be unmatched. No more getting bored, the supercar upstart has entered the big stage. You can have a look at a video of the 720S below.