McLaren 720S review: How’d they make it street legal?
Los Angeles — McLaren doesn’t make a lot of cars — about 3,300 in 2017 — or a lot of models. But what it makes is magic.
Starting with the Sports Series, rising through the Super Series, and culminating in the Ultimate Series, the McLaren machines are highly intentional, purpose-built vehicles.
They are designed to do one thing well — to get around a race track very quickly. Trouble is, they do that so well they don’t do anything else very well.
McLaren’s 720S is a marvel of this speed-specific design. Starting with a carbon fiber “monocage” chassis, the engineers at the Woking, England, factory produce a 2,900-pound race car, driven by a 4-liter V-8 engine, that runs like a rocket.
Capable of a top speed of 212 miles per hour, a zero-to-60-mph time of 2.8 seconds and a zero-to-100-mph time of 5.5 seconds, the rear-engine 720S is also equipped with McLaren’s proprietary adaptive suspension system and electro-hydraulic rack and pinion steering, and wears Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires.
So it goes fast in a straight line and then seemingly faster through the turns, making a fast driver feel faster and an amateur feel less inadequate.
During the week that I had the keys to the 720S, I experienced the Super Series car in a variety of settings. While the McLaren and I did not make it to the track, we did a fair amount of city driving, high-speed motoring and canyon carving.
It was the last that I loved the best. Sitting low, tracking well, the knife-like sports car seemed to find perfect lines through the twisties almost intuitively.
Gurgling happily on the downshifts, and then roaring into the straightaways, the twin turbo V-8 gave audible voice to its 720 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque.
The lovely music from the V-8, even at cruising speed, made an imperfect experience out of listening to music or using the phone. But it was the city driving that was most problematic, and urban conditions that exaggerated the 720S’ daily driver failings.
The dihedral doors swoop open to reveal a spare interior, again reinforcing this car’s intentions. The seats are minimally adjustable. The visibility is extremely limited. The infotainment and climate control systems both require paging through menus to make adjustments.
The rearview camera that appears in that screen helps considerably with backing and parking. So does the essential nose lift function, which will keep the 720S from scraping its chin on driveways.
That’s a $2,510 upgrade on the 720S, and the model I drove had many other options.
Totally totted up, the add-ons and options pushed the buy-in to $378,215 from $288,845.