Why were running it: We know that 720S is one of the best driving machines in the world. But is it an equally rewarding car to live with?
Month 2 -Month 1 -Specifications
Life with a McLaren 720S: Month 2
British hypercar meets Italian – April 3, 2019
Few cars make the 720S feel normal, but the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ you came to visit is one of them. It comes with an even greater sense of occasion and a much better noise. But the McLaren is much easier to handle, puts you at ease and would be faster point to point, at least with me behind the wheel. Its over £100,000 cheaper too…
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Our car beat all participants but was still overtaken at Silverstone – March 20, 2019
In fact, I didnt plan to bring the 720S to the track so soon, and for two reasons: the car was still running and was still equipped with mud and snow tyres. Normally, I wouldnt have gone near Silverstone that day.
But this wasnt a normal track day. Instead, it was organized by Mission Motorsport, a charitable organization of the forces in which I have a small stake. If you are interested, they help the former service staff (and their families), many who suffer from terrible physical injuries and many more who often endure even more disabling mental health problems. The mantra is “run, recycle, recover” and, in the short seven years that it has existed, the charity has found employment for nearly 150 beneficiaries, and more than 1,700 more have found work through its extensive programs. Promotion is over.
Anyway, the order of the day was that those of us with interesting cars could take passengers to beneficiaries who otherwise would never expect to sit in something truly exotic. And they appeared with force: in a single garage there was a Senna, a Porsche 918 Spyder and a new Ford GT, as well as the head of Ford Europes product communications on a Raptor pick-up, which I thought showed some form. And at home I had the choice of either my daughters 720S or 1 litre Aygo. So I did what you would have done.
I didnt have to wait for the customers. A look at the beneficiaries of the 720S set running, limping or rolling towards it. Once inside, I had to spoil it by explaining that the car was made of rubber designed for snow, not for Silverstone, and that I couldnt use all the revolutions. Then the 720S went off and, without making more than 6000rpm, made a mincemeat of everything out there.
Part of the secret was those tires: Silverstone was soaked and it was like having a set of wet tires while everyone else was struggling with the slicks. The Ford GT guy – a Le Mans driver – came up and said he just couldnt believe how fast the McLaren had gone. And, you idiot, I told him about the tyres. Otherwise, I could be his teammate.
But the cars performance was much more than that: even considering its rubber, the confidence this quasi-hypercar central engine gave in atrocious conditions was ridiculous: even with all the electronics turned off, it never gave me an instant alarm.
However, 720S was not what I remember most. It was when I met Laura Nuttall, the 19-year-old girl who dreamed of joining the Navy, went to her doctor and discovered that she had inoperable brain cancer. She was cheerful, funny and laughed like a sewer as we slid sideways through Stowe. She wasnt in Silverstone for me to throw on a track, but to drive a high-speed truck and mark it on her list of too real things. But I think, in the meantime, weve been able to provide some fun moments. I had to go before she drove the truck and I doubt shes a coach reader but, if anyone who knows her, please tell her that I hope its all she ever wanted it to be.
Returning home to Wales, I thought of your courage and dignity in my head. The cars are great and this is one of the biggest, but, at that very moment, I could have been anywhere in the world.
HOW IT IS USED The levels of comfort and tranquility on a cruise are simply exceptional for a car of this potential.
I hate it:
POOR RECEPTION It cant be easy as a carbon fibre bath and an aluminium body is probably not the best antenna.
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The right tyres make the difference – March 6, 2018
One point of having the 720S for an extended period of time is to see how you cope with everything you dont read in road tests. Like deep snow. On Pirelli Sotto Zero tyres for mud and snow, the answer is brilliant. I wandered around the field with hardly a slip. Then I took out an all-terrain vehicle with normal tyres and I got really scared.
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Life with a McLaren 720S: Month 1
We have six – count them, six – months to see what real life is like with a supersport – February 20, 2019
It has been my luck during these 30 years or more to conduct a large number of supersports in good faith and what we now call hypercars, and that my impressions of them are published on these pages. But all of these have necessarily been fleeting compromises.
Lacking the means to deposit a substantial six-digit sum into a means of vehicular transport, I have always been aware that, however well I have felt, I have understood how any of these eclectic machines can behave on the road, I have had no experience of what it might be like to live with them.
Thats why now theres an Aurora Blue McLaren 720S parked outside my house. Over the next six months, Im going to see the other side of the supercar. Sure, Ill take it to the mountains and one or two tracks, but, to be honest, I already have a good idea of what those experiences will be like. They corrupt and affirm life, but theyre also familiar to someone as lucky as me.
Im also interested in other things, of which I have little or no idea at the moment. How am I going to consider the attention it will inevitably attract? What will it be like in heavy or off-peak traffic on the highway, and where will I be happy to leave it? Will I stop worrying about its width and damaging those frighteningly expensive wheels?
Most importantly, I suppose, how much of its potential will I be able to use? Will I find its ability to fast-forward almost anything anywhere offset by the fact that it will never be long before it reaches the next batch of traffic? Personally, Im more than excited by the prospect of spending so much time with such a car, but professionally, I think its going to be fascinating, too.
In the meantime, let me show you around. The Y27 MCL is brand new, with only 395 miles under its Pirelli Sotto Zero tyres for mud and snow. Not being my car, I didnt have much choice on specification, but I was able to give a general guide to what Id like (in addition to choosing Gilles Villeneuves race number for his custom plate). He was my childhood hero and ran for McLaren in Formula 1, so it seemed appropriate). It was a fairly discreet car with a modest list of options. All I asked for was a front axle lift, otherwise I would have damaged it every time I drove it home on a bumpy track on the Welsh border.
What appeared was a car with the luxury specification package, which means that the leather extends over the dashboard and storage areas behind the seats. It also has heated, electrically adjustable seats, which I was pleased to see: McLarens most racist carbon fiber buckets are excellent for keeping you rooted at the point of the track, but less suitable for a great middle-aged driver in the long run.
For a car like this, the options count, in fact, a little restricted, although they are not yet cheap. More than 10,000 pounds went into forged wheels and a sports exhaust. Apart from that, the paint added 1,940 pounds sterling, the orange calibres another 1,140 pounds sterling and the nasal lift 2,200 pounds sterling.
Then there is the 360 degree aerial view of the car when parked (4,720 pounds sterling) and the last $1,000 on an Alcantara wheel and car cover. If I specified it myself, I would probably have the wheels, the nose lift and the Alcantara wheel, although I must admit a furtive admiration for those orange calibers.
All thats missing is the 12-speaker sound upgrade because the standard four-speaker system is adequate, but not much more. But even so, £21,590 in options will be far below what most homeowners will spend.
I picked it up from Rybrook Specialist Cars, where McLaren has its dealership in Bristol, and general sales manager Ross Thorley gave me a complete tour. The little things stood out: you dont have to unscrew the fuel cap, and you dont have to worry about the bonnet closure. Simply press the key or car button and it opens upwards.
The ergonomics and performance of the screens are much better than in previous McLarens and the active dynamics panel controls are finally as good as you would expect from a car like this. Its also even easier to fall and get out than any other McLaren, but also the BMW i8 with dihedral door and carbon fiber cockpit that I ran a couple of years ago.
And thats all for now. Ive driven it briefly since then, by the photographs you see here, and Im diligently observing the shooting schedule, which requires a smooth operation for the first 625 miles. Still, I can already feel the traction control that retains the car almost all the time: Im sure the Sottos will be excellent in case of snow, but the engine has so much torque that even moderate applications of acceleration in quite high gears can make the small warning light flicker furiously.
The Sottos stay for now, because I will take them to Switzerland at the beginning of March, after which they will be equipped with a little rubber that better suits their hypercar potential. After which I hope to have to get to know it all again. At least I hope so.
The potential for shattered dreams is considerable when running a supercar – start the engine often, deal with terrible weather conditions and shitty roads, with the performance of the gagged car for the most mundane journeys. I have faith in 720S, however. Because of its ergonomics and visibility, it is possibly the best in its class, and the damping is disturbingly comprehensive for a car with cast iron body control on the track. If a daily driver can ever offer a middle-mounted V8, it is this one.
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McLaren 720S Luxury Specification
Specifications: Price New £224,990 Price tested £246,580 Options Special exterior paint (Aurora Blue) £1940, sports exhaust £4900, 10-spoke superlight forged alloy wheels £4520, Steering wheel finish £1170, orange McLaren calipers £1140, carbon black Alcantara steering wheel £520, 360deg parking assistance £4720, nose lifter £2200, car cover £480
Engine V8, 3994cc, biturbo, gasoline Power 710bhp to 7500rpm Par 568lb ft to 5500rpm Weight in running order 1419kg Maximum speed 212mph 0-62mph 2.8seg Fuel consumption 23.2mpg CO2 276g/km Defects None Expenses None
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