2018 McLaren 720S First Look | Edmunds

2018 McLaren 720S First Look

McLaren Keeps Upping the Ante — and the Horsepower


There has been plenty of talk about McLaren's Super Series replacement, most of it around what it would be called. McLaren's naming convention refers to the horsepower output of the car, thus few were disappointed with the announcement of the 2018 McLaren 720S.

So now we know that this car makes ... 710 horsepower. Wait, what? Yes, that's what you get when you convert 720 PS, a European horsepower unit, into the hp unit we know and love in the USA. And the new 720S engine also makes 568 pound-feet of torque. Both represent significant leaps ahead of the 650S, a car that made 641 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. The gains come in part by increasing the displacement of McLaren's twin-turbo V8 from 3.8 to 4.0 liters. Further gains result from new cylinder heads, intake plenum and turbochargers. McLaren says it's all good for 2.9 seconds from zero to 100 kph (62.1 mph) and a 10.3-second quarter-mile.

2018 McLaren 720S

There's so much going on with the bodywork that it takes awhile to piece together what it's all for. A slot at the forward edge of the door is there to clean up the turbulence coming off the spinning front wheel. A channel sweeps off the hood and deepens into a trough between the mirror and the side glass that then dives deep down behind the door skin to feed the main radiators mounted just aft of the door openings. A tributary of this airflow continues back atop the rear fenders to the main engine air intakes in a continuous arc. Behind that is a full-width active rear wing that nestles snugly into the shrink-wrapped tail, waiting to deploy itself at speed or tip up to become an air brake. Perhaps the most challenging visual element is the headlamp sockets, which depart from McLaren's signature boomerang shape. The lights themselves are set deep into the upper half, with a central daytime running light rib bisecting the gulping ductwork for the brakes and other radiators mounted in the nose.

2018 McLaren 720S

All of this gorgeous bodywork effectively hides a new carbon-fiber chassis cell that has integrated carbon uppers and a central roof spine that supports the dual-hinged dihedral doors. It's ridiculously easy to enter the 720S because the doors swing 80 degrees up and out of the way, yet they need 6 inches less clearance to open relative to adjacent parked cars compared to a McLaren MP4-12C. Once inside the view is expansive, with glass all around and in the roof. Even the view straight out the back and in the over-the-shoulder blind spot is free and clear, which is unheard of in a supercar. If feels a lot like a caged convertible with a glass top.

2018 McLaren 720S

The level of trim is of high quality, the switchgear has a nice heft to it, and the simplified center stack and its portrait-oriented nav screen are now angled toward the driver. Directly ahead there's a new dashboard display. In street modes the flat side faces you, with a digital speedometer inside a round tach display with an 8,200-rpm redline and all the ancillary gauges you'd expect rendered on one flat screen. Switch to a track setting and the display pivots 90 degrees forward and down so you see it edge on, with nothing jutting into your view out the windscreen. The newly exposed edge displays only what a track driver needs to see: gear position and a bar graph rev counter.

2018 McLaren 720S

The suspension is an evolution of what we saw before when we tested and did a suspension walkaround of the McLaren MP4-12C: double wishbones and coil-over springs front and rear, a rear Z-bar heave spring to control the massive amounts of downforce generated by the wing and the rear diffuser, and a series of interconnected hydraulic lines and pressure accumulators to control body roll and pitch instead of the simple stabilizer bars most cars have. This setup helped the MP4-12C deliver amazing handling at our test track while managing an uncommonly civilized ride on our road loops. The 720S version of the system is even more sophisticated because no less than 12 suspension and body sensors have been added to what was there already, and an additional ECU had to be added to process the extra data that feeds into the next-generation predictive suspension control algorithm. With it McLaren promises that the 720S will deliver the widest performance envelope of anything it has built to date, with even more track prowess, while maintaining similar levels of road comfort.

How much does all of this cost? McLaren has an answer for American buyers, and it is $287,475. That's significantly less than its 675LT, but with more horsepower and more daily-driving civility. Considering the insane engineering and construction details of the car itself, the fact that it's a McLaren and the expected mind-bending performance, this seems like a no-brainer if you have that much to spend on a car.

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