Like most supercars, the McLaren 720S is not a car you just hop into and go. First you need to unlock the car via the middle button on the remote. This opens the driver’s side door and swings open the dashboard display. Next, pop open the front boot and unplug the battery conditioner. Now you can swing the medium weight door up, step easily over the smallest sill of any carbon fiber tub car I have owned to date and drop down into the driver’s seat. Pulling the driver’s door shut is easy, it swings down slowly, closing with a slight, reassuring “thunk”. With the door closed, you reach down on the front right of the seat to tap the settings memory button. The driver’s seat, steering wheel, and wing mirrors all them move into your preferred settings. Press your right foot down on the brake pedal with a decent amount of conviction and then punch the large red start/stop button in the middle of the dash. The 4.0L twin turbo V8 sitting behind your head rumbles immediately into life. Give the V8 a minute to clear its throat and then turn off the very annoying stop/start system, tap the “active button” to wake the “Active Dynamics” panel and put the car into “manual” mode. For driving around town I leave the handling in “normal” and powertrain in “sport”. Only when I hit the highway will the “aero” mode get activated and the rear wing raised. Reversing out of the garage is easy as the rear cameras take over the dash board display and the proximity sensors are displayed on the center infotainment consul screen. Once out of the garage and turned around, the front nose lift gets activated with a push of the button on the end of the smaller right-hand stalk on the steering wheel and then put into the raised mode by pushing the stalk upwards. A tug of the right-hand paddle puts the 720S into 1st gear and we are now off.
Until the oil and water temperature displays turn from blue to green, I try to keep the rpms under 3000. This usually only takes about 5 minutes as both come up relatively quickly. The other gauge I keep an eye on early in any drive is the tire temperatures, as the tires normally take quite a bit longer to warm. Cold tires combined with 710 bhp can easily lead to soiled underwear if you are not careful. Visibility in the 720S is outstanding. It has the smallest blind spots and best rear visibility of any supercar I have driven. The steering is beautifully weighted, and you feel very connected to the front wheels. The combination of great visibility with wonderfully responsive steering allow you to place the car on the road with a huge amount of precision. As you pick up speed, the level of feedback the car gives you increases which really builds confidence. The pedals are nicely spaced and there is little risk of accidently catching the wrong pedal when driving vigorously. The massive CCB brakes scrub off speed almost as impressively as the twin turbo V8 can pile it on. Both the brake and accelerator pedals are very linear in feel and easy to modulate. Of all the road cars I have driven, only the McLaren P1 has better stoppers.
What really sets the 720S apart from every other normal production supercar is what happens when you start to really squeeze the accelerator pedal. A highway entrance ramp is simply a short 0-75 mph runway. Keep your foot planted, pull the right-hand paddle three times in rapid succession and you are in jail bait territory before you have counted to 10. The 720S accelerates with such nonchalance and composure that it can be disconcerting. Keeping one eye on the speedometer is always wise. Gear shifts are smooth, seamless, and happen immediately when you pull the paddle. Long done is the lurching and 10 count between gear changes of the Ferrari Enzo era F1 gearboxes. Given the 720S’ capabilities when it comes to hurling itself at the horizon, a lightning fast gearbox is a must.
Ride quality has been an area that McLaren has excelled at since the launch of the 12C. The Chassis Control II system in the 720S is a further improvement over an already great system. For a car that always feels glued to the road, it handles the crappy pockmarked roads in our area extremely well. The couple of times we have let the 720S loose on a windy country road it has completely come alive and I quickly realized that I will run out of talent long before the 720S.
With the 720S, McLaren has redesigned the interior cabin and moved several of the controls to new positions. After multiple years driving 12Cs, a 650S Spider, and a 675LT Spider, which all use the same interior design, the new layout and logic took a bit of time to get accustomed to. Gone are the annoying menus on the left side of the drivers display that you need to scroll through to get to key information. The front nose lift is now activated by the push of a button. The traction and gearbox mode dials are now stacked vertically alongside the infotainment display. The drive, neutral, reverse plastic buttons have been moved forward into a more intuitive location and replaced by aluminum switches. While the seats are slightly more comfortable, the electric controls have been moved to the front right side of the seat and are far less intuitive to use. While the infotainment system is an improvement over prior versions, the “Homelink” controls for the garage doors need work. You can only access “Homelink” when the car is has been going forward. In reverse, the proximity sensors take over the display and you can’t access the controls.
Overall the 720S is just a brilliant car to drive. Blisteringly fast, outstanding handling yet comfortable and easy to drive all add up to why it is Mrs. SSO’s favorite McLaren.
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