Revealed at the Geneva motor show, the 720S will replace the 650S as McLaren’s new core model and is the first of 15 new-generation McLarens – half of which will be hybrids – promised by 2022 under CEO Mike Flewitt’s ambitious Track 22 development plan.
The 720S obeys all existing McLaren design rules. It is a two-seat supercar based on an all-carbonfibre tub – dubbed the Monocage II – with aluminium space frames carrying the front and rear suspension. However, within that envelope, it has been redesigned and updated in every detail.
The exterior introduces a new ‘double skin’ door construction that eliminates the need for the prominent side air scoops previously thought essential in supercar design. The Monocage II structure’s stiffness has allowed McLaren’s designers to give the 720S remarkably thin A-pillars, a deep windscreen, B-pillars set well back and slim, and glazed C-pillars, all of which contribute to first-class all-round visibility for the driver.
In fact, the Monocage II structure has also been cited by McLaren’s executive director of product development, Mark Vinnels, as the key to the 720S’s 1,283kg dry weight, which undercuts all competitors and beats that of its predecessor by 18kg.
The body panels are made either of carbonfibre or superformed aluminium, and their novel shape plays a key role in the 720S’s impressive aerodynamic performance. Ultra-compact LED headlights fit into frontal ‘eye sockets’ that allow room for vents to feed the air-conditioning and oil cooler.
Powering the 720S is a 4.0-litre twin turbocharged V8 with a peak output of 720hp at 7,000rpm and maximum torque of 770Nm at 5,500rpm. It drives as before through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox mounted end-on to the engine, but McLaren says further refinement of its control software brings smoother gear changes at low speeds and faster, sharper shifts at higher speeds. The launch control has also been improved, and as before, there are three driving modes – Comfort, Sport and Track – that govern both engine and dynamics.
McLaren claims the 720 can go from 0-100kph in just 2.8sec and has a top-speed of 341kph. To accompany the performance, the 720S has a carefully-engineered engine note which can be further enhanced with an optional, louder, sports exhaust system.
Additionally, McLaren’s all-independent system of front and rear double wishbones has been completely re-engineered, both to allow wheel geometry changes and, thanks to a redesign of the uprights and wishbones, to cut unsprung mass by 16kg. The 720S also has an updated version of the Proactive chassis control electronics used by the 650S.
Brakes are large, ventilated carbon-ceramic discs and the tyres are specially developed Pirelli P Zeros, 245/35 ZR19s at the front and 305/30 ZR20s at the rear.
All 400 units of the launch edition of the 720S have already been sold. McLaren expects to sell 1,200 720S models this year, including the 400 launch edition version and 1,500 units from next year.
Take a look at the other cars present at the Geneva motor show 2017 in our image gallery.