McLaren 720S Spider 6 Month Report & an “Issue”

We have had the McLaren 720S Spider for a bit over 6 months now.  During this period it has firmly established itself as one of our favorite (in fact it is Mrs. SSO’s favorite) McLarens.  However, we did have an issue the other day and I wanted to get that covered off right up front. To be clear, the 720S Spider did not spontaneously combust, all the body panels didn’t suddenly fall off, and the engine did not explode as many vlogers would lead you to believe are all common issues with McLarens.  It was a bit more mundane.  The air-conditioning simply wasn’t blowing as cold as it should have been.  We were able to apply a quick fix by putting the roof down and driving a bit faster.  To be honest, the issue might have been there for an extended time and I wouldn’t have noticed as the 720S Spider had always been driven with the roof down up until this one time.  A quick call to McLaren Boston led to the car been picked up the next day.  The issue was quickly diagnosed as a low refrigerant level. The system was pressure and leak tested with no issues found.  McLaren Boston topped up the refrigerant level and returned the 720S Spider to us two days later.  The air-conditioning has been blowing ice cold ever since.  I’m also pleased to report that we didn’t require any therapy to get over this trauma.  Regarding issues on cars, the day before we had the air-conditioning issue on the McLaren, the air-suspension on the Mercedes GLS 450 failed.  Now that is a major issue.

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The more time I spend in the driver’s seat of the 720S Spider, the deeper the bond grows.  While the 720S Spider is certainly civilized enough to use as a daily driver should you so choose,  McLaren has also subtly woven enough of the 675LT Spiders harder core DNA into the 720S Spider to make it a thrilling, highly engaging car with a real edge to it when you have the chance to open things up a bit.  It excites in ways the 650S Spider isn’t capable of.  The progress in a relatively short eight years in the Super Series from the highly technically competent but emotionally flat 12C to the more extroverted 650S and finally to the adrenaline pumping 720S is rather extraordinary.  The differences between Normal, Sport, and Track mode in the 720S Spider are more significant than on any of the prior models and this makes for a much more versatile, exciting car to drive in a range of different situations.

The suspension on the 720S Spider provides a beautiful balance of both road feel and smoothness that seems to magically iron out all but the most severe imperfections in the rather iffy local roads. Like in all of our McLarens, I always leave the suspension/traction control setting on “Normal” when driving on public roads.  Steering weight and feedback are excellent.  There is zero body roll when cornering and it remains beautifully balanced across the axles.  Grip levels are simply enormous, and it does feel like you are cornering on rails.  I have never had the rear even so much as wiggle on me, and we have driven through a few torrential rainstorms together.  The carbon ceramic brakes are massive and instill confidence from the first time you use them.  Unlike earlier generation of carbon ceramic brakes which needed quite a bit of heat in them before they would effectively retard you progress, the ones on the 720S bite well even when cold.  The twin-turbo 4.0 liter V8 engine delivers 710 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. The 720S Spider will hit 62 mph in 2.8 seconds and 124 mph in 7.8 seconds.  The three transmission modes provide a nice range of choices from cultivated and genteel to tasered stallion.  If I didn’t know better, I would swear the engine had a different level of tune for each of the transmission modes.  When “on it” in “Sport” or “Track” mode upshifts bang off wonderfully, tingling the inner petrolchild.  Power delivery is the most linear of any non-hybrid turbo charged car I have owned and in “Track” mode, the 720S Spider just hurls itself viciously at the horizon.  There really isn’t much of a gap between the 720S and the P1 when it comes to raw straight-line acceleration.  Keeping pace with other cars on a group drive isn’t even remotely taxing.  The 7-speed dual clutch gear box is incredibly quick, and I do like the fact that each paddle is bi-directional.  The 720S Spider is a deeply engaging and rewarding car to drive. The 720S Spider excites and engages constantly yet is versatile enough to respond perfectly to a large number of different driving situations.

The longer we have owned the 720S Spider, the more appreciation I have for the brilliance of the roof design.  It is by far the most elegant solution for a folding hard top that I have seen on any car.  Opening or closing the roof is very quick, my guess would be its twice the speed of the 650S Spider and at least 5 times faster than the roof on the Maserati Granturismo Cabrio.  The roof can be spec’ed as a transparent electrochromatic panel which in my estimation is a must have option.  The use of glass buttresses preserves the excellent rearward side visibility of the coupe.  It’s a huge improvement on the prior 12C & 6XX series McLaren Spiders which do have significant blind spots on the rear three quarters. 

As we buy our cars to be used, early indications are that the 720S Spider is likely to end up as a long-term keeper.  When the 720S Spider was originally purchased, my expectation was we would have it for a few years and then traded in for the 765LT Spider.  As I sit here today, I’m not sure that is the direction we will go in.  The 650S Spider and 675LT Spider have proven to be different enough to justify keeping both.  Depending on how good the 765LT is, I think there is a fairly decent chance that we have a repeat of the same situation with the two 7XX series McLarens.  With that in mind, now might be a good time to start looking into garage expansion plans. 

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August 2020

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