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McLaren Automotive Ups The Supercar Game With The New 720S

Aerodynamic winglet and vent behind the front tires combined with inlet airflow access that double as headlight position ports are just a couple of subtle design notes that signal the 720S is equipped to perform. Image Credit: McLaren Automotive (2017)

McLaren Automotive Ups The Supercar Game With The New 720S

This week saw the official release by McLaren Automotive of their next new lead model car, the 720s.

Since the the original birth of McLaren as a commercial car producer with the MP4-12C, the 720S - from the design pen of McLaren Automotive's Design Director Frank Stephenson, on first impression, can be best described as the epitome of the blending of pure design art and pure engineering science - welcome to the McLaren Automotive 720S!

The McLaren Automotive 720S at it's first unveiling at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show March 9th, 2017. Image Credit: Frank Stephenson via Facebook (2017)

To start, Frank Stephenson hits this evolution of design out of the park - so sophisticated, refined, and unpretentious. Much more masculine and with the recognition of race car aerodynamic notes being incorporated leaves one with the air of confidence when one approaches the signature dihedral driver's side door to hop in and give this high-performance transportation platform a whirl.

The face of the new 720S imparts a bold, no nonsense masculine look. not a lot of swoop or swirl - pretty much . Image Credit: McLaren Automotive (2017)

This excerpted and edited from The Drive -

2018 McLaren 720S: First Impressions, Straight from Rome
BY LAWRENCE ULRICH - The Drive - APRIL 27, 2017

I'm still tingling as I write this, having just driven the spectacular, $288,475 McLaren 720S back into the pits at Autodromo Vallelunga, the high-speed Italian circuit that hosted the Rome Grand Prix back in the Sixties.  
Here are my first impressions—minus driving impressions—of McLaren’s new 212-mph supercar, which replaces the 650S.
It wasn’t hard to see McLaren’s own triumphant Rome tour as a kind of British wink-wink, or maybe an outright “screw you,” to the Italian supercar establishment of Ferrari and Lamborghini. McLaren executives flatly denied this, but they were smiling when they said it. Then I drove the 720S through a picturesque Italian hilltop village, where a flock of charming schoolchildren ran into the street, shouting, to snap cell phone photos of the McLaren. I stopped smack in the middle of the lane and let them photograph to their hearts content, while cars lined up behind me. Not one person honked, but more than one older bystander tipped their caps to the McLaren. Conquering heroes, indeed.
Your body is the hand and these seats are the glove with all that is needed at one's fingertips. Image Credit: McLaren Automotive (2017)

It’s the prettiest McLaren yet - Stepping onto a carbon-fiber limb, I’d say the 720S looks better than the legendary F1, and better even than the seven-figure P1 hypercar. The P1 appears alien and imposing, but the 720S carries itself more like a real road car, and it’s a distinctive visual rival to the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. Highlighting its formidable active aero functions, that sexy, slippery design is also a worthy building block for multiple McLarens to come.
McLaren (finally) has a hit soundtrack on its hands - A stickler might say this is a “driving impression,” but I beg to differ: The 720S sounds lusty and expensive even when it’s standing still. Thank a “Loud Start” function that, when you hit the Engine Start button in selectable Track mode, cuts the twin-turbo V-8’s ignition spark and squirts some unburned fuel out the exhaust valves. 

“Instead of lighting the fuel in the combustion chamber, you’re lighting it in the exhaust,” says Ian Howshall, product manager for these Super Series models. The result is a proper burp-and-bark that will wow bystanders or enrage snivelers.
Let There Be Light - Whether it’s darting scooters in Rome or bike messengers in Manhattan, the McLaren lets you spot looming danger better than any mid-engine competitor, thanks to outward views inspired by a jet fighter's canopy. The latest iteration of McLaren’s F1-based, carbon-fiber Monocell allows incredibly slender roof pillars. Naked carbon fiber forms the windshield A-pillars. Ogle the McLaren from the back—destined to be a regular occurrence—and the unbroken expanse of glass can fool you into thinking there are no rear pillars at all. Ah, but there they are, a glazed pair as skinny as a Milan model’s forearms, disguised below the tinted glass.
Three Coins in the Fountain - Let’s raise a glass to McLaren’s health, a company whose expansion into a successful road-car manufacturer was by no means assured. McLaren was formed as a racing builder in 1963, but McLaren Automotive wasn’t spun off until 2010. Just seven years later, McLaren is on track to sell about 4,000 cars this year, after moving 3,200 in 2016—a 99-percent jump from 2015. After founding its first retail shop in central London, the growing company now has 80 stores in 30 markets, including about a dozen in China, with plans to top out around 100 locations. The company has already taken 1,400 deposits on the 720S, meaning the first year of production is “oversubscribed,” a fancy word for “sold out.”  Wisely, 30 percent of company profits are being plowed back into R&D and products. 
Travel Light, Travel Heavy - Combine a 710-horsepower, 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 with the lightest curb weight in the class—including the bulkier Ford GT—and you’ve got one shrieking-fast supercar. The base model 720S boasts a dry weight of just 2,828 pounds, which rises to a DIN curb weight of 3,128 pounds for our Luxury model, topped with fluids and  a 90-percent-full tank of gasoline. With performance checked off, the 720S gives owners and passengers more excuses to test it, with its supple, adjustable Proactive Chassis Control suspension and generous cargo space. There’s no glovebox, but the 720S adopts the sleekly trimmed rear Luggage Deck from the more-affordable 570GT model. Add a surprisingly large trunk below the hood, roughly the size of a Porsche 911’s, and you’ve got nearly 13 cubic feet of cargo space.
These Numbers Don’t Lie - Until I can publicly parse the subjective performance behind the McLaren’s specs, try these numbers on for size: 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds (0-100 kph, or 0-62 mph, is 0.1-seconds slower), 0-124 mph in 7.8 seconds, and 0-186 mph in 21.2 seconds. The latter, license-shredding acceleration figure is four seconds faster than the departing 650S.  McLaren says that, fitted with standard Pirelli P Zero street tires, the 720S will circle many racetracks faster than the 650S did with Pirelli P Zero Corsa track rubber. Those stickier, faster-wearing Corsa tires will be a no-cost option on the 720S, so let your imagination run wild.
[Reference Here]

Trademark flow design of the McLaren rear end. Image Credit: McLaren Automotive (2017)

And this excerpted and edited from Road & Track -

McLaren 720S: First Drive
What started with the slightly predictable 12C has now become the wonderfully bonkers 720S.
BY CHRIS CHILTON - Road & Track - MAY 2, 2017

"They got hit over the head. We all know it, that the car didn't demonstrate enough energy, creative energy – passion, you could call it. It never looked wrong, it just looked ho-hum. It's like an athlete with an incredible figure wearing a sack."

That's what McLaren Automotive's Design Director Frank Stephenson had to say about the company's original supercar, the MP4-12C, a car that had its design finalized before he even started.

The front end of the McLaren Automotive MP4-12C as it was debuted in Southern California. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

In approaching its comeback supercar with a race team's focus, McLaren made a crucial miscalculation. The 12C lacked the one thing that you can't put a number on: wow factor. And that was something the Band-Aid 650S rebranding could never fully fix. The 720S doesn't have that problem. Not close. This car is all wow.

The 720S is as polarizing as the 12C was bland, as innovative as its ancestor was predictable. Take the eye-socket headlamps, which cleverly, but controversially, take a tip from the tuner world, turning the headlamp hole into air intakes, and use slim LED lamps bridging the chasm for illumination. You might not like the way they look, but you'll admire them a whole lot more once you appreciate the science behind the styling.

Same with the rear quarter panels. The gaping air intakes convention says all mid-engined cars need between the rear wheel and the door are gone. They're hidden behind a fake door skin, the McLaren 570S's door 'tendon' bar taken to the next level.

If the visual effect is striking from the outside, revealing the long wheelbase in all its glory, like a drag motorcycle with its extended swing arm, it's no less jarring from beneath the bubble canopy. From the driver's seat I can see the division between the inner and outer body panels as I power down the start finish straight at Rome's Vallelunga race circuit. I've driven here a couple of times before, most recently in an Audi RS3, and before that for the launch of the original Lamborghini Aventador. So, basically never in anything that actually wanted to turn. Consider that remedied.

The McLaren 720S turning in high-speed corners is enhanced with an airbrake effects articulating spoiler. Image Credit: McLaren Automotive (2017)

The 720S loves to turn. The steering is weightier this time because of geometry changes that increase the castor, but that only adds confidence as you nudge the wheel away from center, feeling the tires filtering the vital messages back to your hands.
Who'd have believed, even 15 years ago, that a supercar this powerful could be so forgiving? Driving the 720 hard feels entirely natural from the first corner as you push to the front tire's limits, feel the wheel lighten as you brush the brakes, then ease back on the gas to gently load up the rear tires. 
Only a few weeks before this I drove the Bugatti Chiron, a car whose acceleration is so freakish it feels like it could sieve your internal organs through the pores of the skin on your back. A car that wants to convince you that trick's enough to forgive a gargantuan curb weight. Driving the 720S reminds you that it's never forgivable to let a sports car knock on the door of 4500lb, no matter how much performance it offers in payback.

The 720S weighs 3128lb full of fuel and a driver, and no doubt could have come in even lighter if McLaren had used the conventional sway bars it gave the 570S rather than the hydraulic roll control system the more senior cars get. 
Gadget fans will also appreciate the telemetry option that shows sector and lap times for the circuit, plus a trace that rises and falls to show braking and acceleration. 
Airbrake mode as the McLaren 720S settles into the track. Image Credit: McLaren Automotive (2017)

Taking the jink right after the pits with your foot buried deep into the carpet, pulling the car left again then standing on the middle pedal with all your might, marveling at stability the 650S never had, and catching a glimpse in the rear view mirror of the now-full-width rear deck spoiler hurling itself into the slipstream in airbrake mode: hot lapping the 720S an absolute scream. The only thing it can't do is scream back.
A longer stroke takes it [the engine] from 3.8-liters to 4.0. Power is up from the 641hp of the 650S to 710hp, or 720PS. Even the P1 only made 727hp before you factor in its hybrid add-on, and that car cost four times as much. This is proper next-level performance, taking the ordinary mid-range supercar to hypercar levels of go.

On paper, it's a monster, dispatching 62mph in 2.8sec and 124mph (200kmh) in 7.8sec. A Ferrari 488 GTB needs 3.0 and 8.3sec respectively. On pavement, it's no less impressive, spinning to 8000rpm, and feeling noticeably less laggy in this incarnation thanks to some new low-inertia twin-scroll turbos.
There's no flamboyant fanfare when you push the start button. Push the gas pedal and there are no sonic fireworks. If you want crazy noise, opt for the sport exhaust, which McLaren says is 30 percent louder and has a feature called 'loud start.' 
The carbon chassis, which, along with the dihedral doors is unique in this sector, is now a 'monocage' including an integrated central roof bar, rather than a simple tub.
That's the surprise about the 720S: it looks like a nightmare to live with but is anything but. The visibility is excellent, both forward, past the A-pillars with their exposed carbon weave, a nice show-off touch–and more surprisingly, at the back.
Factor in the generous 5.3cu ft space in the nose that swallowed two rolling bags full of camera gear on our way to the airport and you're looking at a supercar that thinks it's a GT.

A functional and artful design that is anything but boring. Image Credit: McLaren Automotive (2017)

And rides like one. Italy's roads are as rough as Germany's are smooth. The pavement is frequently broken and uneven and strewn with irritating little Fiats that we swat away with a squirt of right foot. The McLaren doesn't care. No, it's not an S-Class, but for a supercar like this, the McLaren is exceptionally comfortable.
Last time the sticking point was the 12C looked too boring. This time, the only real gripe is that the 720S sounds a bit dull, and the sport exhaust doesn't put the 720S on par with a naturally aspirated note. 
What McLaren has built is what we always knew the 12C and 650S could and should be.
[Reference Here]

There is very little to have to settle for with the purchase of this supercar splurge ... except for maybe a little more change in one's pocket to spend on lodging as one joyfully travels about the countryside, or to the track, for some of the highest level of art and engineering placed into one enjoyable and affordable high-performance driving platform - welcome to the McLaren Automotive 720S!

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: McLaren Automotive, Frank Stephenson, MP4-12C, 650S, 720S, Road & Track, Chris Chilton, The Drive, Lawrence Ulrich, airbrake mode, The EDJE