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Drive of your life

Justin Harper
Justin Harper • 5 min read
Drive of your life
Not only does this new McLaren look good, it makes you feel and look good too.
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The McLaren 720S certainly deserves the title of supercar

What makes a supercar super? Probably the best definition comes from Wikipedia which defines a supercar as “a street legal, high performance, luxury sports car”.

It is a fairly loose term and one open to interpretation. Some people prefer to go on looks. If it looks like a supercar, then it probably is.

With that in mind, there is no mistaking a McLaren as a supercar. Although proudly British, it was actually founded by a New Zealander Bruce McLaren in 1963 and has since built up an illustrious history in Formula 1.

But of course, it also makes pretty decent road cars too and a couple of them have made it into my “best cars ever driven” list.

The latest McLaren I was lucky enough to get behind the wheel of was the 720S. While the model itself is not exactly new — we have seen a handful of new launches including the Senna and the GT — it deserves a long overdue review, having replaced the equally sublime-looking 650S.

I cannot remember a new McLaren that has not been jaw-droppingly amazing to look at. And as the pictures here show, the 720S looks pretty magnificent too. Maybe it is the unwavering focus on producing supercars, and not being distracted by making SUVs like some of its rivals, but McLaren has succeeded by sticking to what it knows best.

Not only does this new McLaren look good, it makes you feel and look good too. There is definitely something special about opening a gullwing door that goes up rather than out. Once the door is up, there is usually a small group of spectators looking at you and the car. If I had enough cash to actually buy a McLaren, I do not think I would ever get bored of opening up those wing-like doors.

I would also never get bored of playing with the rear wing spoiler, popping it up and down and seeing how it looks. While it makes the car look even more sporty, it also has functionality. The full-width spoiler improves downforce while acting as an airbrake. This car is all about aerodynamics, and that is usually synonymous with looking good too.

I also do not think I would ever get bored of driving a McLaren either. Its cars are more compact as supercars go, and have that everyday driving quality about them. But they are also equally at home on the track. My test-drive car was powered by McLaren’s twin-turbocharged, 4.0-litre, V8 engine, which is capable of 720PS (or 710bhp).

And that is how the 720S and other McLarens get their name — it is based on their power output. And it is indeed as fast and powerful as it looks so should be handled with care. The maximum torque is a neck-snapping 770Nm while the all-important 0 to 100kph sprint can be done in just 2.9 seconds. Anything under 3 seconds, you know you have a beast on your hands.

SEE: McLaren looks to Asia and hybrid cars to stay on track

And the body of the 720S is actually lighter too, with a new carbon fibre structure called Monocage II, which McLaren says this is also more rigid than the 650S. All these make for an intoxicating mix of speed and power that is so addictive you never want to get out of the cabin.

The cabin is another highlight of this supercar, offering up a snug fit and some very cool technology that is on the right side of not overwhelming you. I have to admit that some supercars (and even some sports cars) include too much technology inside their cabins nowadays that you almost feel you are in a plane’s cockpit.

One case in point is the steering wheel. Some brands have decided to load the steering wheel with all the functions and driving aids so it is all in one place. This means it is full of buttons and dials, which can be a little distracting. McLaren has gone the other way and its steering wheel is devoid of any controls. This gives you a strong indication of the designers’ thinking — this car is about driving pleasure and going fast, without any distractions.

The cabin has great visibility too so you can see what is coming at you, which is always useful when you are driving at high speeds. One nice little touch inside the 720S is the very cool digital instruments display which folds away at the push of a button, or when you switch to track mode. It is replaced with a rev-counter and speed-readout information to make you feel more like a racing driver and less like a city commuter.

There is an awful lot to like about McLaren 720S and its looks alone will have many pulling out their cheque books. For me though, it was well worth the wait.

McLaren 720S

$1,043,000 without COE

Engine: 3,994cc, V8, twin-turbo

Power/torque: 720ps/770Nm

Fuel consumption: 10.7L/100km

0 to 100kph: 2.9 seconds

Top speed: 341kph

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