McLaren 720S

To go faster, simplify, then add lightness. While Colin Chapman’s still-quoted adage defined the early years of Lotus, his fellow garagista Bruce McLaren took a subtly different tack as his fledging team came to dominate Can-Am racing in the late 1960s with a succession of increasingly brawny Chevrolet V-8–powered monsters: Add lightness, then add more power.

McLaren 720S Video Review:

Bruce and Colin are no longer with us, but their philosophies still guide the companies they founded. And the McLaren 720S is the best demonstration yet of McLaren’s core principle of Peace through Superior Firepower. With 710 horsepower, its twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 is 49 horses up on the Ferrari 488GTB, a car that’s rarely accused of sluggish road manners. At the same time, the McLaren’s power-to-weight-ratio advantage has been sharpened further with an even more carbon-intensive architecture.

The new Monocage II tub now incorporates carbon fiber consisting of the windshield surround and continues through the center roof section. These improve structural integrity—load bearing for the 650S, this car’s predecessor, was handled entirely by the lower tub—which explains why coupe and spider versions had the same torsional rigidity. The composite greenhouse components also save weight compared to the previous model’s aluminum pillars and windshield header. McLaren says the body is 40 pounds lighter, with the 720S’s overall dry weight falling to a claimed 2828 pounds with every available lightweight option.

McLaren 720S

The Same but Very Different

So, while the fundamentals of a carbon body and a mid-mounted V-8 sending torque to the rear wheels remain the same, pretty much every detail has been tweaked or changed. Visually, the most obvious difference is the loss of the 650S’s side air intakes, with the 720S looking sleeker and more muscular without them; air is now directed to the engine and radiators by a well-disguised channel next to the rear windows. While our praise for the design at the rear is unalloyed—the back bears a distinct resemblance to the McLaren P1 with the rear wing in its deployed position—the new dark headlight apertures (which incorporate air intakes as well as lighting elements) are very color sensitive, the metallic white of our test car giving the 720S a deadeyed look that is evocative of a fish market.

 

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McLaren 720S To go faster, simplify, then add lightness. While Colin Chapman’s still-quoted adage defined the early years of Lotus, his fellow garagista Bruce McLaren took a subtly different tack as his fledging team came to dominate Can-Am racing in the late 1960s with a succession of increasingly brawny Chevrolet...