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REVIEW – McLaren 720S Luxury

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer


McLaren 720S Luxury
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Finish
  • Engine / Performance
  • Ride / Handling
  • Economy
  • Practicality
  • Equipment
  • Value For Money
4.5

Summary

The 720S is living proof that McLaren still has that special touch when it comes to making high-performance cars. Part of that special touch is being clever with design: from the exterior styling to the spacious, airy cabin. For the most part this is an easy car to live with and, if you can stump up the enormous price tag, you’ll be happy with your choice. The McLaren 720S is a British masterpiece, and you can’t help but love it for that.


Image Gallery

Exterior Styling

If you’re reading this, then you’ve managed to stop scrolling through the pictures above. Which is rather hard to do, because the McLaren 720S is an achingly beautiful car. And so it should be. Supercars have long been the pin-up, poster boys of the automotive world, and the 720S fits right in.

The design ethos at McLaren is a simple one: “everything for a reason”. That means there are no superfluous bits of trim or, god forbid, fake air vents. Every curve and every vent is there to direct the air a certain way.

That results in an almost sympathetic beauty; letting the functionality of the design shine through without screaming “look at me”. But don’t for one second think that the McLaren 720S is inconspicuous. You will attract attention wherever you go: get used to it.

At the front the headlights are slim, so as not to obstruct air flow to the vents into which they are incorporated. Channels either side of the bonnet guide air into the huge side air intakes.

Those side intakes are reasonably well hidden; lying on the inside edge of the doors. That allows for clean door lines which gives the McLaren 720S a distinct sleekness.

Several wheel choices are available. Our test car having a bright silver lightweight forged design; 19-inches at the front and 20-inches at the rear.

Dihedral doors are a McLaren signature, and a tremendously cool one at that. Opening the door is a statement, and there are few prettier sights than a 720S with its doors open.

At the rear there is a spoiler which lies flush to the body work, but raises at higher speeds. Just below this are two purposeful exhaust pipes. A large diffuser completes the striking, and aerodynamic, exterior styling.

Interior Finish

Upon opening those dihedral doors, you are greeted with an opulent and stylish cabin that entices you to climb in and get comfortable.

Being the Luxury specification, this particular McLaren 720S was finished in lashings of leather. The colour scheme is black and cassis. It’s quite a bold choice, but it adds a level of sophistication to the cabin. There’s a clear distinction to the Performance specification cars which feature alcantara instead.

The interior design mirrors that of the exterior in that it is purposeful and somewhat minimalist. Everything is there to do its job effectively without adding unnecessary features or trim.

There are very few buttons in the McLaren 720S. The majority of features can be controlled via the 8-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen and adjacent twist dials in the centre of the cabin. It is also angled slightly towards the driver to boost ergonomics.

The centre console is as slim as the headlights, incorporating the engine start button and gear selectors. There are no buttons whatsoever on the steering wheel. There are, however, oversized fixed gear shift paddles behind it.

I must also mention the instrument cluster. It’s a fully digital setup with various different display options. But it hides a very ‘James Bond’ feature. At the push of a button it retracts, leaving only a linear rev counter and digital speedometer.

The build quality is excellent, and that’s especially complimentary for a hand-built car. Everything is solidly put together, using the finest materials. There was not a rattle to be heard in the cabin.

What’s most surprising is how light and airy it is. You could think that a supercar would be dark, and cramped, but a strong – and light – carbon fibre monocage allow for thinner pillars and larger windows.

Engine/Performance

Providing the supercar thrills in the McLaren 720S is a 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8. This longitudinal, mid-mounted power plant has a simply astounding set of performance figures.

The ‘720’ part of this McLaren’s name is a nod to the power output of 720PS. Torque is a rather impressive 770Nm. Purists will be pleased to hear that this power is sent solely to the rear axle.

So let’s get to the good bit… acceleration. Because I’m not exaggerating when I say that the McLaren 720S is mind-bendingly fast.

0-62mph takes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 2.9 seconds. It gets better. 0-124mph is dealt with in 7.8 seconds, and 0-186mph takes 21.4 seconds. Keep pushing and the 720S will top out at a truly supercar-worthy 212mph.

There’s an Active Dynamics panel next to the touchscreen, which allows the driver to separately adjust powertrain and handling characteristics. There are three settings for each: Comfort, Sport and Track.

The gearbox is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, which McLaren calls Seamless-Shift Gearbox (SSG). In Comfort mode it is true to its name; you barely notice the gear change.

In Sport and Track modes, the shifts are more aggressive. That makes you want to select manual mode and use the oversized paddles to change gear. The instant responsive to inputs creates a truly immersive experience. The paddles are also multi-directional, meaning you can push the ‘up’ paddle to downshift, allowing for one-handed shifting.

The two twin-scroll turbochargers contribute enormously to the blistering performance, but there’s a niggling feeling they also hamper the engine note. Don’t get me wrong, with the (optional) sports exhaust, the McLaren 720S is certainly loud enough to turn heads. But there are nicer-sounding cars out there, with more theatrical soundtracks.

Ride/Handling

Handling characteristics are easily adjusted via the Active Dynamics Panel. The McLaren 720S comes with double-wishbone suspension and adaptive damping, so the difference between Comfort and Track modes is distinct and noticeable.

The 720S is not designed to be a GT car: there’s the McLaren GT for that! Nonetheless, it handles a motorway drive well – being able to quieten the exhaust and soften the damping really helps.

Steering is an electro-hydraulic setup, with an incredible amount of feel. You can tell exactly what the front wheels are doing, and feel well-connected to the chassis as a whole. Directional changes can be made with pinpoint accuracy thanks to the direct steering.

At the core of the McLaren 720S is a carbon fibre “monocage” – carbon fibre tub, pillars and roof – that’s both rigid and lightweight.

The rear spoiler – if left to its own devices – raises at higher speeds to improve downforce and traction at the rear. For posing, you can raise it manually.

Stopping power is impressive. The McLaren 720S has a carbon ceramic braking system, with 390mm discs and 6-piston calipers at the front and 380mm discs and 4-piston calipers at the rear. At higher speeds, and under hard braking, the rear spoiler flips up to act as an air brake.

There is, however, an issue with the brakes. When you feather the brake pedal, not a lot happens. Press a little harder, and the car stands on its nose. Some refinement here would be welcomed.

The 720S comes with Variable Drift Control. This allows the driver to select the degree of playfulness they want from the back end. But ‘drifting’ seems to go against the essence of 720S: a lightweight car with 42%/58% weight distribution and faultless handling. Variable Drift Control is false. The McLaren 720S is pure.

Economy

It’s not unreasonable of me to expect this section of the review to be wholly irrelevant. Let’s be honest: when you’re considering supercars you care a lot more about miles per hour than you do about miles per gallon.

Nonetheless, any fair review of a vehicle must consider all aspects, so I will touch on economy. It is, as you would expect, nothing to be overly thrilled about.

Combined fuel consumption is 23.2mpg. That may not sound like a lot, but in the world of 200+ mph cars it’s about as much as can be expected. On a leisurely motorway cruise we saw figures above this, which was a pleasant surprise.

It has to be said that any spirited use of the accelerator pedal will result in the consumption taking a hit. Put it this way: you can soon find yourself in single figures.

CO2 emissions of 276g/km (NEDC-equivalent) are surprisingly low considering the size and power of the engine. To put that in perspective, a Subaru WRX STi Final Edition emits 252 g/km…

VED is £2,135 when you purchase the car, and £145 thereafter – plus the £320 surcharge in years 2-6. The initial rate sounds a lot, but once absorbed into the price of the car (more on that a little later) it’s barely a drop on the ocean.

You may be surprised to learn that the McLaren 720S features start/stop technology. On the one hand, it lacks subtlety. You can’t quietly start a McLaren 720S. On the other hand, you get to listen to that 4.0-litre V8 roaring into life several times on every journey.

Practicality

Supercars are renowned for being difficult to live with. Difficult to get in and out of, awkward to drive slowly in traffic, impossible to see out of, a nightmare to park and with no room for any belongings.

Cue the McLaren 720S, to obliterate these pre-conceptions and show you that it is not only possible to live with a supercar, but enjoyable too.

The aforementioned dihedral doors are not just great for posing: because they open into the roofline they make it much easier to step over the extremely large door sill and clamber on board.

The SSG gearbox in the McLaren 720S is effortless in traffic. At slow speeds, in comfort mode, it keeps going up the gears, keeping the engine revs to little more than idling. Throttle response is gradual, making it easy to drive through the local village at a crawl.

I mentioned earlier that the lightweight carbon fibre monocage allows for thinner, lighter pillars. That means the McLaren 720S is very easy to see out of indeed. The windscreen is large, and there is loads of glass behind you.

Parking isn’t actually difficult, thanks to the visibility and gradual throttle response. Chances are, by the time you pick a spot to attempt a parallel parking manoeuvre a small crowd will have formed. So no pressure. A 360-degree camera is helpful, but doesn’t come standard.

Lastly we come onto roominess. There are two main storage areas in the McLaren 720S. The front loadspace – under the bonnet – holds 150 litres. That’s enough for a couple of overnight bags or a few shopping bags.

The rear deck, behind the driver, holds a further 210 litres and even comes with a luggage strap to secure bags. You could certainly pack enough for a weekend escape.

Equipment

Equipment levels are generous on the McLaren 720S. In a way, they should be. There’s hardly room for scrimping with a car costing over £200,000. But then again the 720S is lightweight, so mustn’t be overloaded with heavy technology and creature comforts.

The McLaren 720S Luxury finds the perfect balance for this. It may only weigh 1,283kg but it has plenty to make your life easier.

Keyless entry and go means the keys can stay in your pocket. For further security you get an alarm with tilt sensors, which can detect if somebody is trying to lift your car away.

There are a host of driver assistance systems, from the simple anti-lock braking and traction control, to the more exotic Variable Drift Control, brake disc wipe and brake pre-fill.

On the infotainment front you get what’s called the McLaren Infotainment System. This revolves around the 8-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen and the folding digital instrument cluster. You get voice control technology in addition to Bluetooth, USB and Aux connectivity.

Safety is also important. The McLaren 720S has driver and passenger airbags (front and side). The passenger airbag system is a clever one, too. It can detect whether there is an occupant or not, switching the airbag off when the seat is empty. But it goes a step further than that. It also knows if there is a car seat being used and, if there is, deactivates the passenger airbag automatically.

Being the Luxury specification, this McLaren 720S has a leather interior, electrically-adjustable seats with memory function and interior ambient lighting.

Other notable equipment includes dual-zone climate control, soft close doors, folding door mirrors, full LED exterior lights including engine bay ambient lighting, and cruise control.

This can be further enhanced by options, which we’ll come on to next.

Value For Money

The basic price of the McLaren 720S is £215,000. In Luxury specification that price rises to £224,990. But there’s much more to the story than that.

Owners want to put their own flair on cars like this. Which means that customisation options on the McLaren 720S are seemingly limitless.

There’s an expansive palette of exterior colours, several choices of interior colour scheme, and many different wheel options.

You can choose whether to have Gorilla Glass in the upper door. This brings more light into the cabin, and is a wonderful touch. But it comes at a price of £3,190.

Rather oddly, there is an optional sports exhaust. Why this is optional on a supercar is beyond me, but it is. A £4,900 one at that.

The in-car entertainment offering can be enhanced by a £3,640 12-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system. When you give up listening to that V8, you’ll be pleased with the crisp, clear sound from this system.

The aforementioned 360-degree camera system is a godsend when it comes to parking. It’s worth every penny of the £4,720 price tag, even though that’s more expensive than on ‘normal’ cars. Vehicle lift is a relative bargain at £2,200 when it comes to protecting the front splitter.

£1,420 is excessive for an electric steering column, there are no two ways about it.

There aren’t enough words in this review to cover the carbon fibre options. Pretty much every element of trim – inside and out – can be upgraded to the stuff. And it doesn’t come cheap. An example? £3,550 to upgrade the steering wheel, and £6,170 for the rear diffuser.

My press car showed some degree of restraint with this customisation, and it tipped the scales at £281,960. At that level, depreciation prospects would be giving me sleepless nights.

Facts and Figures

Engine 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 petrol
Max power 720PS at 7,500rpm
Max torque 770Nm at 5,500-6,500rpm
Drivetrain 7-speed SSG automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph 2.9 seconds
Top speed 212mph
Fuel tank size 72 litres
Fuel consumption 23.2 mpg combined, WLTP
CO2 emissions 276 g/km NEDC equivalent
Kerb weight 1,283kg
Towing capacity N/A
Luggage capacity 150 litres (front) / 210 litres (rear deck)
NCAP rating 5 stars
Base price £224,990
Price as tested £281,960
Company website cars.mclaren.com/en/super-series/720s

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