2018 McLaren 720S Road Test Review
- Base Price: $284,745
- Engine: 4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8, 720 horsepower, 420 pound-feet of torque
- Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch transmission
- Top Speed: 217 mph
- Options: Steering Wheel Paddles $2,370; Calipers – Red $13,40; Exterior Elite Paint – Glacier White $4960; McLaren Track Telemetry – App Only $2,620; 5 Twin-Spoke Leightweight Forged Wheels $3,720; Steering Wheel – Carbon Black Alcantara $620; Wheel Finish – Satin Diamond Cut $1,880; Steering Column – Electric $1,680; Electric & Heated Memory Seats $3,310; 360 Degree Park Assist $3010; Homelink System $360; Stealth Pack $1,410; 720S Performance $11,430; Exterior Door Upper – Gorilla Glass $2,690; Sports Exhaust $5,770; Audio System – 12 Speaker Bowers & Wilkins $4,290; Vehicle Lift $2,510; Transportation and Port Processing Charges $4,100
- Total Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $342,835
- Similar: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, Ferrari 488, Lamborghini Aventador S, Porsche 911 Turbo S
720S Supercar Engine and Transmission
The wail of the McLaren 720S’ 4.0-liter V8 is accompanied by relentless acceleration as its twin turbos hit full boost. Experience it once, and you quickly learn to respect the McLaren’s throttle pedal. Conversely, the small-displacement V8 tends to lag, literally and figuratively, if engine RPM drops below 3,500. The solution comes via the 720S’ carbon fiber shift paddles and lightspeed dual-clutch transmission.
Dual-clutch transmissions effectively obsoleted manual transmissions over a decade ago by offering superior, straightforward gear swaps faster than any human could match. Since then they’ve only gotten quicker, and the 7-speed in the McLaren 720S is the quickest we’ve yet experienced. It doesn’t so much shift as seamlessly, instantaneously transition between gears, leaving only the 720S’ digital gear indicator and a change in engine note to confirm the ratio swap. Use those paddles properly and the engine sings as it slings the 720S between braking zones on a track or twisty canyon road.
Advanced Suspension Provides Dynamic Ride Quality
The McLaren 720S’ drivetrain ensures its supercar status, but the British exotic’s handling prowess is what sets it apart from rivals. An advanced, electronic suspension allows for “Comfort”, “Sport” or “Track” modes, and all three offer better ride quality and handling confidence than one might expect. Yes, Track mode is stiffer than Comfort mode, and Sport mode offers the perfect mid-point between them, but even in Track mode the 720S doesn’t abuse passengers. And in Comfort mode it’s truly plush when driving over all but the most degraded road surfaces.
Basically, this supercar is super-capable of breaking lap records before carrying you across the country in comfort. The sticky Pirelli PZero Corsa tires keep it battened down while trail braking into corners, clipping apexs and rocketing away as the rear tires claw at asphalt and the front tires provide directional feedback through the alcantara steering wheel. Minor course corrections come easy as the balanced, mid-engine chassis clearly transmits rotation and yaw angle. A car with a starting price above $280,000 shouldn’t be this easy to drive fast, but the McLaren 720S can pull more than a lateral g of cornering force, providing reassurance as speeds climb.
720S Delivers High Speed and Rapid Acceleration
And speeds climb quickly in the 720S. Zero-to-60 takes less than 3 seconds, zero-to-100 happens in around 5 seconds, and top speed is a license-suspending 217 mph. This is the by-product of tasking more than 700 horsepower with a mere 3,100 pounds to move around, making the McLaren 720S one of the lightest supercars currently produced.
Credit goes to what McLaren calls the “MonoCage II” carbon fiber core structure, the primary passenger cell and chassis within the 720S. This foundation weighs a just 225 pounds while being stiff enough to manage crash energy as well as provide a grand touring experience when driving the 720S long distances. It’s this advanced starting point that makes the 720S’ combination of performance and comfort possible.
Beautiful Styling, Inside and Out
Modern supercar status also requires head-turning style wrapped around a sumptuous cabin. The McLaren 720S offers both, with dramatic dihedral doors that open to reveal a roomy interior cloaked in rich materials. Like the advanced suspension and powerful drivetrain, McLaren’s ability to fit two full-sized adults, with room to spare, in such a quick and light sports car confirms the automaker’s engineering excellence. Throw in the 720S’ roomy “frunk”, offering 13 cubic feet of storage space, and you’ve got a fully capable weekend getaway car. One that happens to be among the quickest and fastest street-legal cars ever produced.
McLaren’s engineering aptitude also delivers advanced user features, including a “Variable Drift Mode” that lets drivers adjust how much yaw rate the 720S allows before stability control kicks in. Our test car had the optional Bowers & Wilkins 12-speaker audio system, heated seats, a vehicle lift system to avoid scraping its pricey carbon fiber belly pans, and a folding gauge cluster that converts from traditional gauge layout to a streamlined track mode.
McLaren: A Brand in Ascension
McLaren has provided engineering solutions to performance car brands for decades, and its own racing history is rich and colorful. It became a full-fledged automaker in 2012 with its first modern, in-house supercar. The company is still establishing street cred with many wealthy buyers who see certain German, Italian and even other British automakers as more steeped in heritage and history.
But buyers looking to experience the pinnacle of modern supercar performance need look no further. The McLaren 720S is arguably the best exotic sports car money can buy in 2018.