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We review the 2019 McLaren 720S

We review the 2019 McLaren 720S
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The Car.co.uk verdict:

4.7

The McLaren 720S is a sleek, powerful, phenomenally fast piece of automotive engineering. The newest car in the McLaren series features the unique Carbon Fibre Monocage II system, which offers a one-piece carbon fibre tub creating a high-strength, low-weight passenger cell with unprecedented visibility. The McLaren 720S boasts unrivalled performance, sinuous good looks and is lighter and more powerful than its closest rival – the Ferrari 488 GBT.

Inevitably, once you start adding to the basic McLaren 720S specs, you are likely to go some considerable way past the entry level price of £208,600, and this could never be called a practical choice when it comes to basics like parking and fuel economy, but with ride and handling as good as this, all sensible arguments go out the uniquely designed electro-chromatic window. If you are after exceptional speed, style and fun, you will find this a hard proposition to resist.

Pros

  • Innovative roof design provides unparalleled visibility
  • Superb speed, outclassing its closest rivals
  • A surprisingly spacious and user-friendly cabin

Cons

  • Adding extras takes the McLaren 720S price tag way past the entry level cost
  • Engine noise now so refined you might miss the throaty growl of earlier McLarens
  • As with all supercars, luggage space is limited

At a glance

  • Looks
  • Practicality
  • Engine & power
  • Reliability
  • Equipment & options
  • Interior
  • The drive
  • Cost
  • Safety
  • Why buy

Looks

5 out of 5
McLaren 720S - Looks

Killer looks and a striking, sleek new design

The fact that McLaren's designers took their inspiration for the 720S from the great white shark is evident in the lithe, sleek lines of the carbon fibre chassis. An innovative new teardrop-shaped cabin allows for incredibly thin pillars supporting a glass canopy, which floods the cabin with light and gives the driver incredible 360-degree visibility. Everything about the design is focused on controlling air flow over the car and lowering the drag coefficient. LED headlights are subtly recessed into eye sockets, door ducts reduce drag and maximise cooling, and at the rear, a wide spoiler emphasises the car's muscularity.

Like the car's beating heart, the visible rear engine bay illuminates in red at night. Available in a range of striking paint finishes, the launch colour of Belize Blue is particularly evocative of the car's aquatic inspiration and makes a striking impact. Plus, who doesn't love the thrill of activating those dihedral doors that highlight the car's cutting edge styling and epitomise the McLaren 720S's ability to harmonise performance and aesthetics?

Practicality

4.5 out of 5
McLaren 720S - Practicality

An exciting supercar you can easily use for everyday life

The ingenious new roof mechanism enables the dihedral doors to open higher and wider, meaning that unlike other low-riding supercars, you don't need to limbo to get in, preserving your modesty and allowing for an altogether more dignified entry and exit.

With two seats, this is never going to be a family vehicle, but let's face it, if you are in the market for a car of this calibre, you are unlikely to be planning to take it for the weekly family food shop. With a nod to practicality, the new design does allow for a reasonable 58-litre capacity luggage space, so room for a couple of decent sized overnight bags.

The published figures for the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, which measures fuel efficiency, suggest a high of 23.3mpg and a low of 9.2mpg, but even McLaren admits that the actual driving experience may differ significantly. The safest assumption is that, like all cars in its class, you are unlikely to get much above 20mpg, and city driving will take you even lower.

Engine & power

5 out of 5
McLaren 720S - Engine and power

Phenomenal speed and power means this car tops its class

The numbers really speak for themselves. Achieving 0 - 60mph in a mind blowing 2.9 seconds, 0 - 100mph in 5.6 seconds, and clocking 10.4 seconds for a standing quarter mile, the McLaren 720S is ahead of the Porsche 911 Turbo, Jaguar F Type, and Ferrari 488 GBT. 

This is all down to the 4.0-litre twin turbocharged V8 engine, which offers 568lbs of torque in a mid-engined configuration. With a seven-speed reverse seamless shift gearbox and rear wheel drive, the car is super responsive and the carbon-ceramic brakes give you sharp control.

With a dry weight of 1,283kg, this car is lighter than its predecessors. As result, the 720S generates significantly more downforce than the 650S, thus almost doubling the overall aerodynamic efficiency. In addition, the clever side vents not only look good, they also improve cooling. All this means that the 720S is just shy of the P1 in terms of speed, which is remarkable given that it costs a fraction of the P1's eye-watering hypercar price tag.

Reliability

4 out of 5
McLaren 720S - Reliability

Rigorous testing and precise engineering should ensure good levels of reliability

McLaren has a pretty good reputation for reliability, priding itself on precision engineering and quality. However, you might find that, in the event you do need any re-adjustments or repairs, service is not quite as speedy as it is with more run-of-the-mill cars, given the very limited numbers of cars and the high level of specialism required for servicing and repairs. The best advice is to ensure you get the fullest warranty cover; that way, there should be no surprises in the form of unexpected bills.

Equipment & options

5 out of 5
McLaren 720S - Equipment & options

A veritable smorgasbord of options means you can customise every part of the car

The standard McLaren 720S spec includes alloy wheels, anti-lock braking system, traction control system, electronic stability control with dynamic mode variable drift control, and the electronic parking brake speed limit function. Even the basic interior is high specification, with sumptuous leather and dark graphite detailing giving the car a luxurious feel.

You also get the new suspension system, Proactive Chassis Control II, twin-hinged dihedral doors, and drag reduction system. Inside, the McLaren Infotainment System (MIS) comes with a seven-inch high-resolution touch screen monitor, an onboard memory McLaren four-speaker audio system, an audio media player AM/FM & DAB radio, Bluetooth telephony, USB connectivity, and voice control for the information and entertainment systems. As you might expect, you can customise many of the finish options and add some pretty nifty extras from simple heated seats to a light enhancing carbon fibre window option. 

Interior

5 out of 5
McLaren 720S - Interior

Ingenious dashboard combines with extra space to create a seriously stylish interior

A really pleasant surprise is just how roomy the interior is. Offering ample head height and room for knees and elbows, there is none of the rather awkward folding of body parts required in some supercars. Indeed, it is this sense of space that adds to the impression that this is a car you can use every day for normal life.

The dashboard displays are all digital, which has the potential to overwhelm you with too much information, were it not for the canny device of a dual option display panel that allows you to opt for either the whole control centre of dials or to simply fold this away to reveal a flatter, simpler panel that just gives you the basics. Genius!

In terms of materials and colours, the finishing touches are provided by exquisite Iridium brightware and details in dark satin graphite, and the tactile leather seats are soft and comfortable. Both the standard seat and the sports version offer good lumbar support and a driving position that is never too upright, mainly thanks to the great range of alignment options for the steering wheel.

The drive

5 out of 5

Predictive technology and incredible power make for a superb driving experience

With the Proactive Chassis Control II suspension system, you get a great grip on the road even when cornering and this makes for an enjoyably smooth ride. The seven-speed gearbox is highly responsive, good at low revs, and even better at high revs, particularly when Track Mode is selected. The car seems to know what you are going to do next, for example dropping down the gears just before you are about to overtake. Add to this the variable and drift control and you begin to realise how impressive this predictive engineering is. You feel as though you are in good hands.

The engine sound is relatively quiet for the size and power of the engine, but for those who like a full-throated roar, you can easily open the back window to let the engine's growl into the cabin. The roof is a single piece of glass and folds away in an unbelievable (and practically silent) 11 seconds. You can even retract the roof while you are on the move, up to 31mph, and the clever electro-chromatic glass can be tinted at the touch of a switch, ideal for blocking out bright sun.

With a top speed of 212mph and practically gymnastic agility at any speed, the McLaren 720S is a dream to drive.

Cost

5 out of 5
McLaren 720S - Cost

More bang for your buck than you might have thought possible

The McLaren 720S's price begins at £208,600, with luxury and performance models coming in at £218,020. The models that have been tested have all had quite significant additions and somewhere around the £230,000 mark looks like a more realistic average price.

The menu of additional options allows you to really personalise and customise the car, but at significant additional cost. Adding a sports exhaust will cost you a further £4,750 and opting for the visible monocage, exposing the carbon fibre primary interior components, makes the cabin even lighter and brighter, but comes in at £3,990. With myriad paint options and four quite distinct additional luxury interior styles on offer, and options to upgrade your wheels, exhaust, brakes, interior and exterior lighting, and even seatbelts, it is all too easy to ramp up the cost.

Even at the higher price points, this is still a lot of car for your money. Given that you are buying a car that is close to matching the McLaren P1, you might even go as far as to say this is something of a bargain.

Value retention is hard to predict, but the higher the specification, the more likely you are to guard against depreciation and protect the car's value.

Safety

4 out of 5
McLaren 720S - Safety

A super-strong body and new safety systems promise even higher levels of safety than previous McLarens

McLaren is very conscious of safety and says that this car "provides unrivalled rigidity, resulting in thrilling driving dynamics and exceptional protection for you and your passenger". Not only does the carbon fibre body offer strength, but many of the engine features and on-board driving systems ensure the driver is well informed and well protected.

There is no doubt that the increased visibility is a real advantage in terms of safety too; you can see more behind you and around you, which can only add to safety and encourage better, more nuanced driving.

This car also has a whole suite of systems that are designed to enhance traction and grip.

Why buy

4.5 out of 5
McLaren 720S - Why buy

Believe the hype about this groundbreaking car

A singularly impressive vehicle, the McLaren 720 has wowed even the most critical of reviewers and is now being hailed as the best supercar currently on the market, so is the hype justified?

The answer to this is a resounding ‘yes’. What's not to love? The roof engineering is groundbreaking, and gives you superb visibility to enhance your driving experience. The exterior styling is polished and slick while also being luxurious and alluring, and the car provides a drive that is responsive, exciting and fun.

Perhaps most tellingly, when you sit in the driving seat you genuinely feel that you are in a car that maximises the potential of the very best in innovative engineering and technology.