McLaren levels up with the new 720S, the first new-gen Super Series model, previewed in Singapore
Text & Photos: Carmen ‘Vanessa’ Rosso
SINGAPORE – On March 14, 2017, we said goodbye to the old McLaren (passenger cars that is, not the Formula One team) and hello to the debut machine of an all-new, revamped line-up from the British sports car brand.
This is the McLaren 720S, a direct replacement for the 650S model, and the first of McLaren’s totally new Super Series line-up, which will eventually span 15 models in total and include hybrid powertrain choices. The new 720S has an asking price of $990,000 (excluding COE) with first deliveries expected in July this year.
As expected of a new family of cars, the ‘platform’ in this case is rather special, it’s what McLaren calls the Monocage II, which like previous McLarens is a central carbonfibre monocoque. It’s newly designed for the 720S though, and now includes a central roof strut as part of the one-piece body.
While previous McLarens were at times quite difficult to tell apart, their understated design sometimes bordering on dull, you won’t need to play ‘spot the difference’ with the 720S because its new design features are very clear, as the photos show.
According to McLaren however, the 720S has set a new benchmark in areas of design and practicality. For starters, the headlights allow aerodynamics to carefully shape airflow to the front wheels whilst serving its primary purpose of illumination. As expected, there’s more downforce and less drag than before.
And it gets better as you walk around the car, you’ll notice deep channels created and tucked between the doors and rear glasshouse to maintain a cool atmosphere to keep the turbocharged engine in check.
Where entering and exiting the 720S is concerned, current McLaren has ditched the hassle of the wide-angle swinging doors and has taken inspiration from the brand’s P1 model, with its monocage carbon chassis.
In fact, you no longer need to duck quite as much since the distance of which the doors open to have been slimmed down by a solid 15cm, and helped by an upper structure that allows the doors to cut into the roof – which means parking in tighter spots is now possible too. (And yes, we tried it for ourselves, and it works.)
While the visibility of some other supercars – we are looking at you, Lamborghini Aventador – can be pretty intimidating, McLaren has played their cards right in this aspect. In front of the steering wheel, you’ll see a high-resolution display screen (conveniently laid for everyday driving), which can fold forward to present the driver with the speed, gear and rev information.
The car is powered by a revised, upsized twin-turbo V8, expanding from 3.8 to 4.0-litres and with 40 percent new componentry. According to the brand, it’s the most powerful of the Super Series models ever built, with the ability to deliver 710 horsepower, allowing it to hit the 100km/h mark in just 2.8 seconds and 0-200km/h in 7.8 seconds, which is quicker than the Ferrari 488 GTB and Porsche 911 Turbo S.
The chassis setup is classic McLaren with double-wishbones all around, but a new adaptive damper system and Proactive Chassis Control II debuts here, these are hydraulic-linked dampers as before, which eliminate the need for conventional anti-roll bars. McLaren claims it’s born out of the research from a five-year PhD programme at Cambridge, and incorporates more sensors and accelerometers for extra responsiveness.
All in all, the 720S seems the perfect start for a refreshed McLaren, whose previous line-up lost its vigour quickly – 2016 saw only five McLarens sold, compared to 14 Aston Martins and 37 Ferraris, while the distributorship changed hands from Wearnes Automotive to the Eurokars Group in late 2015.