The McLaren 720S: A Modern Benchmark

720S
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What the Ferrari 458 did to the supercar scene in 2009, the McLaren 720S is doing today. The 720S is the new standard set for today’s modern supercars. It is the one car not to be messed with. Here at RS Report, we have a running joke called, “Has anyone seen a 720S lose a drag race?” It rivals the likes of the 488 and the Huracan but can compete with the granddaddy we like to call the P1. The 720S was widely hated by the car community during its launch, but very quickly gained respect and popularity after outperforming the competition and more. 

The 720S shook the car industry at launch because it was the first time McLaren replaced its core car. The 650S was a redesigned MP4-12C and the 675LT was an improved 650S. The 720S was an entirely new car with an improved chassis and an improved powertrain. The new chassis is named Monocage II; it utilizes upper structure and windscreen surround, so it’s even more rigid than its predecessor, the 650S. The center of gravity has been enhanced thanks to the engine being mounted 150mm lower than before. I haven’t driven a McLaren 650S so I can’t compare the two but I’m more than happy to say a big thank you to @kev___23 for giving me the opportunity to review his 720S.

720S 2
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The powertrain of the 720S is a beast on its own. It is powered by a 4.0L twin turbocharged V8 producing 710 horsepower and 568 lb/ft of torque. This monster of a V8 launches the car to 60 miles per hour in a blurry 2.9 seconds. However, the turbo lag from launch is very noticeable and can be unsafe. When you first floor it, the car accelerates rather weakly and then the turbos kick in and you get pulled away from the steering wheel and the pedals and pushed deeper into your seat. The launches done in naturally aspirated cars such as an Aventador SV or a nitrous infused Dodge Viper are a lot more intense. The turbo lag is a nice party trick for unsuspecting passengers. The only sad thing about this perfected powertrain is how sad the exhaust note is. It’s a very soulless whiff of a V8 sound. The aftermarket exhaust systems make the 720S scream beautifully, but the stock exhaust does not match the excitement of the design. 

720 S 3
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The driving feel of the 720S has been perfected. The cockpit has been wrapped with glass all around and it makes the interior feel a lot more breathable. I would call the steering wheel of a 720S The steering feel is a lot more precise and responsive than the 458 we reviewed in the past. For being a turbocharged car, the throttle response is sublime and there is a surprising amount of power readily available. Stay on the throttle for too long and the turbos kick in, launching you into the car you were about to pass. My absolute favorite part of the McLaren 720S is the gorgeous transmission. This transmission is by far the smoothest transmission I have ever felt in a supercar. Sure, Porsche’s PDK transmission is the fastest, but this transmission was absolutely seamless at low speeds and didn’t lurch at all. It was very predictable and perfectly comfortable for daily use. At speed around corners, you can tell it is a light car, but you can feel exactly how long the 720S truly is. The level of grip it has isn’t all that impressive, and the turbos still lag mid corner so when they kick in, it is very easy to feel the wheels starting to lose traction. The traction control system is very strict in the 720S, and you can feel the computers working hard to hold back and keep each wheel in check.

The so-called “perfect” supercar comes with a few drawbacks. The brake pedal must be FULLY pressed in to change the driving gears. If the brakes have enough power to keep the car still, it still requires them to be fully pressed in to change the gears and it’s very annoying at times when you’re in a rush. The electronic handbrake needs a couple tugs before it actually engages, and it also requires the brakes to be fully pressed in. The traction control system won’t let you have any leeway and it’s so strict that you can literally feel the wheels getting choked. The brakes feel spongy while parking; half of the brake pedal is dead and the other half is fully engaged. When you’re parking, there must be a perfect balance, because any slip up will land you 3 feet ahead of where you were intending to stop. Reliability on the 720S is subpar, with many owners experiencing problems before 5000 miles.

720S 4
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The final verdict of the 720: it is the best supercar money can buy, and it blows the competition out of the water. Out of the big three, the 488, Huracan, and 720S, I would definitely pick the 720S in a heartbeat. It’s a superb car with a wonderful interior and insane performance. It is the new benchmark for modern supercars and I’d like to see the next generation try to set the bar higher. 

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