McLaren’s New Supercar Sets Bar in Industry of Extremes
British automaker McLaren unveiled the 720S, the successor to the 650S Coupé and second generation in its successful Super Series line, creating a supercar even more extreme than its predecessor.
McLaren’s latest mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-seater unveiled Tuesday at the Geneva Motor Show is lighter and faster than the 650S, with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine and a weight of 2,828 pounds. Company executives say it can hit 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds and reach 124 mph in 7.8 seconds. Top speed is 212 mph. List price in the U.S. will approach $290,000, about 5% more than previous models.
The quicksilver speed is amplified by a new hyper-light carbon-fiber chassis and intense engineering to afford improvements like faster steering and 45% faster gear changes than even the high performance McLaren 675LT. What’s more, the car’s aluminum bodywork is literally shrink-wrapped around the carbon fiber chassis. This revolutionary method enhances the aerodynamics and cutting-edge appearance.
It’s notable that the 720S lacks side-radiator intakes along its flank. Instead, the so-called double-skin shape of the butterfly doors channels air through hidden radiators to the engine. The effect looks like an insect alighting from space.
Also notable are adaptive headlights: a special system allows better visibility at high speeds by raising the beam pattern of the 17 LEDs (in each light) half a degree after the car hits 68 mph.
Along the rear of the car, a hydraulic wing acts as an air brake and a rear diffuser helps increase downforce and keep the car grounded. Twin exhausts and a row of engine air intakes atop the fender also enhance aerodynamics when the wing fully deploys.
This car is progressive even for McLaren, known for its technological prowess, and creates a new normal for the Super Series.
McLaren designers seem to have embraced past criticism of their interiors. When you approach the car, the 720S starts a “Welcome Sequence” that unfolds the mirrors, lights the indicators and courtesy lights, illuminates the engine bay and bathes the McLaren logo atop the engine in a red light. It's like entering a spaceship (in the best sense of the word).
Inside, the cabin focuses on pleasing the driver, with both front seats pushed back from the dash to create even more space inside, plus space behind the passenger and driver seats large enough to hold small bags or parcels. There are three drive modes (comfort, sport, and track) and a seven-speed dual clutch paddle-shift transmission. The improvements make this car usable on a daily basis and, what's more, comfortable for long drives.
The central infotainment screen comes in an eight-inch display. This is the control center; its crisp graphics display the car’s vital signs along with audio, media, navigation, and even mood lighting. The screen is sleeker and distinct to Tesla's standout Model S. Traditionally Tesla has dominated the industry with its iPhone-caliber control screens, so this new entry from McLaren, which includes a folding driver display that minimizes distractions at high speeds, garnered plenty of interest at the show.
Optional upgrades include a Bowers & Wilkins sound system (over the standard four-speaker sound system), parking sensors, a reverse camera, and 360-degree park assist. Customers can also choose for even more carbon fiber parts and pick from 20 exterior paint colors. Alternatively they can work with McLaren Special Operations to make a unique car virtually from the ground up.
It's fitting that MSO will play a role here. The 720S solidifies McLaren's journey from niche racing brand to a full-on luxury car and even lifestyle brand. Prominent buyers (The Weeknd famously used his own McLaren for scenes in his "Starboy" music video) want their cars to be unique, and those who have already placed orders for the 720S are among that lot.
Deliveries start in May.
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