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Bespoke Beauty, Supercar Style: Behind The Wheel Of The Wicked McLaren 720S

Drop-dead gorgeous and astonishingly fast, all of McLaren’s cars are 100% designed and built by hand in the U.K., and it is the very last automotive brand that can claim majority British ownership. They’re even constructed with as many British components as possible. And yet each McLaren model manages to exude truly exotic appeal, with unmistakably bespoke looks and an air of well-engineered exclusivity. The new 720S however, is a breed apart, more beautiful, faster, better designed and better engineered than anything in its class. And worth every penny of it’s $288,000 (starting) price tag.

Part of McLaren’s Super Series, the 720S embodies the marque’s “relentless quest to push the limits of possibility.” That goes back to the brand’s beginnings as McLaren Racing, founded by race-car driver turned manufacturer Bruce McLaren in Surrey, England in 1963, where the firm is still headquartered, albeit with a new state-of-the-art factory. McLaren Racing is the second oldest active Formula One team after Ferrari, and is second only to the famed Italian brand in terms of F1 victories, and it’s partly this shared DNA that gives McLaren’s road cars such a powerful presence.

The 720S is a supercar designed to be driven every day, and it’s a true show-stopper even before its “dihedral” butterfly doors swoosh open turning it into an automotive work of art. Thanks to its 710 hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, the sharklike supercar can do zero to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds and tops out at an eye-popping 212 mph. And we do mean “sharklike;” McLaren’s designers took inspiration from the Great White, and it shows. Every part of the engine has been refined to maximize power, sharpen responses and increase fuel efficiency, with lightweight, aerodynamic construction enabling the driver to make the most of it.

Recently we were handed the keys to a dashing dark blue model, beautifully appointed in Nappa leather and carbon fiber, to gauge the thrills firsthand, and as we cruised from Manhattan up to Kennebunkport, Maine, we turned heads – and nearly instigated whiplash – everywhere we went. (Check out our video for some highlights.) Power is instantaneous and seemingly endless when you put your foot down, with an accompanying well-bred roar from the V8. Its 710 horses far outpace both the Ferrari 488 GTB’s 661 hp and the Lamborghini Huracan’s 630 hp; not perhaps what you’d expect of a British thoroughbred, but the Italians have definitely been put on notice.

McLaren notes the 720S offers the “widest breadth of dynamic capability of any McLaren, from controlled comfort to extreme handling prowess.” 0-60 mph takes only 2.8 seconds, while 0-124 mph is reached in a blistering 7.8 seconds, with a top speed of 212 mph. It’s those kinds of number mated to exceptional engineering that have just added two new titles to the model’s already impressive list of accolades: Performance Car of the Year awarded by the Automotive Video Association (AVA), and champion of Motor Trend’s 8th annual World’s Greatest Drag Race (WGDR), where it’s dominance was established once and for all.

“The 720S is a remarkable car that has been wowing both media and customers alike since its launch,” Tony Joseph, President of McLaren North America, said upon receiving the news. “Though the car debuted over a year and a half ago, the demand remains strong. With its lightweight carbon fibre chassis and blistering acceleration, we were thrilled to see the 720S cross the finish line first in Motor Trend’s drag race against a line up of serious competitors, along with taking home the 1st place award with a 6-2 winning vote in the Performance Car of the Year Awards by the Automotive Video Association.”

McLaren had to make space on the shelf for the honors. In North America alone, McLaren’s single largest market, the 720S has also been named Road & Track’s 2018 Performance Car of the Year, was voted an AUTOMOBILE All Star, received a Car and Driver Magazine Editor’s choice, and was named to Robb Report’s Best of Best list for 2018. “You look at the McLaren 720S, hear about its technology and all the horsepower under the hood, and imagine that it’s pretty fast,” as Motor Trend Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh notes. “But you’d be wrong. It’s way faster than you imagine. This is a supercar that puts last year’s hypercars on the trailer, whimpering, tail between their legs.”

WTM Africa 2020