While we made every effort to cover our own travel costs, in this case McLaren took us to Phoenix to run the 720S Spider (and the 600LT Spider, we published the same last week) and provided two nights in a hotel.
In 2016, we tested the McLaren 650S Spider, a carbon-fiber supercar we believe to be so smart that it deserved a PhD. But three years is a long time in the world of supercars, and the 650S is old news. Meet the McLaren 720S Spider. It is also made of carbon fiber. But now, instead of a 3.8L twin-turbo V8, there is a more powerful V8 twin-turbo 4.0L. The car also has a new roof mechanism that goes up or down in just 11 seconds.
At the same time, the new model is lighter than the Spider (38kg), making it the lightest car in the category (compared to the Ferrari Track Spider, the Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder or the Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster). It's incredibly fast and extremely attractive – both qualities you'd like if you were spending $ 315,000 on a supercar. But it is also surprisingly easy to drive, civilized to live with, and even very good at gas, considering this is capable of hitting 60 mph in 2.8 seconds before surpassing 212mph (341km / h).
At the center of the 720S is your carbon fiber tub. Called the MonoCage II-S, it's a bit different from the 720S coupe tub to accommodate the fact that the roof rises and falls. But there is no additional bracing or reinforcement to add any structural stiffness to the Spider, although it does have a pair of carbon fiber overlap protection brackets attached to it (which also anchor the roof and seat belts). Compared with the tub in the 650S, it is easier to get in and out thanks to lower sills, and is easier to see, both front and back, thanks to the finer pillars and better rear visibility.
As the 720S Spider is one of McLaren's Super Series models, it also receives carbon fiber body panels (as opposed to steel and plastic used in the 570S, 570GT and 600LT Sports series). This gives the Spider 720S a dry weight of just 2,937 kg (2,937 kg); for comparison, the 720S coupé weighs only 108 lb (49 kg) more.
The style may not be everyone's taste – I know when I first saw the 720S coupe and That headlights I was not a fan, but in the three shades of paint that McLaren brought to Arizona (Aztec gold, Belize Blue and Supernova Silver in the photo), I find the front aspect much more palatable. From the sides and from the rear, it's a knockout, at least for this author. At the rear there is an active rear wing that now occupies the width of the car. This performs several functions. It can increase to add additional downward force, lie down to reduce drag when accelerating straight, or appear as an air brake under strong braking to reduce stopping distances and improve stability. The wing adds 30% more downforce than the smaller one on the 650S Spider, and McLaren says the new car is 30% better when it comes to aerodynamic efficiency (the drag ratio: drag).
The 4.0L M840T engine is based on the 3.8-liter unit that powers almost all other brand cars (with the exception of Senna). The stroke was increased by 1.4 inches (3.6 mm) to increase the capacity. Overall, McLaren says that 41 percent of the parts in the M840T are new compared to the M383T in the 650S, including but not limited to new turbochargers, intercoolers, plenum, cylinder heads, crankshafts, garbage gates and pistons lighter. Peak power is 710cv (530kW) at 7,500rpm, with peak torque at 568lb-ft (770Nm) between 5,500 and 6,500rpm. (Rotation limit is 8,100 rpm on first gear and 8,200 rpm, otherwise.) As with all McLarens, power reaches the rear wheels via a dual clutch "seamless shift gearbox" of seven marches.
As you can imagine, with so little mass and so much power and torque, performance is blaring. From a starting point, you'll reach 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, or 100 km / h in 2.9 seconds. Zero at 124 mph (200 km / h) is dispatched in 7.9 seconds, and will reach 300 mph (300 km / h) in 22.4 seconds. As previously mentioned, the top speed is 212 mph (341 km / h) with the roof up; with the top down, this is limited to 202 mph (325 km / h). The stopping power is similarly impressive, thanks to the carbon ceramic brakes (15.4 inches / 390 mm at the front, 15 inches / 381 mm behind) and that active rear wing. Stopping 62 mph requires only 99.4 feet (30m) and takes place in 2.8 seconds; at 124 mph, it will stop completely in 4.6 seconds at 387 feet (118m). These performance metrics are almost identical to the 720S coupe – it gives 0.1 seconds to the slightly lighter hardtop in the race up to 125 mph and quarter mile (10.4 seconds versus 10.3 seconds) and a second integer in dash to 186 mph.
While people keep telling me that fuel consumption is not important to people who buy cars for $ 315,000, I believe some of them still care about the environment. For a car with over 700 horsepower, it's actually pretty good – the EPA rates the 15/22 / 18mph city / road / combined. After a difficult day of driving, our test car reported just over 20mpg. McLaren says the car replacing the 720S will be a hybrid; in fact, says that the entire series Super Series and Sports Series will be hybridized until 2024. A McLaren electric battery will have to wait for some innovations in battery weight.
But you could have learned all this by reading the McLaren press kit. The reason we went to Arizona was to fly the 720S Spider (and the 600LT Spider we showed you last week). Unsurprisingly, in almost every aspect, it's a better car than the one it replaces. It's easier to get in and out than the 650S Spider, thanks to the new tub. The sills are lower, the door opening is wider, the roof bar of the roof is further forward and the rear buttresses are farther back.
Once sheltered in the driver's seat, you immediately notice the improved interior. There is a larger 8-inch infotainment screen that is now tilted toward the driver, and the style is much more dramatic than the 650S, which tended to have large extensions of carpet or leather that gave grounds to complain that it looked like a car kit. The steering wheel remains one of the best you can wrap around – the width and shape of the rim at 3 and 9 is based on the old Lewis Hamilton F1 wheel – and there is not a button or switch on it, unlike those you would find in a Ferrari or Lamborghini.
There is a brand new digital panel, which you can rotate to show a much reduced screen. This happens automatically when you put the car in Track mode, although you can switch the behavior with a button on the dashboard as well. And one of my top complaints about the 650S was corrected. In the old wagon, if you were approaching a parking ramp or a spine and wanted to raise your nose, this would require several inputs with the control handle (which lies below the windshield wiper rod on the right side of the wheel ). This stalk of control is still there, but if you want to raise your nose now, there is a small button on the tip. However, I do not remember the area of the feet of the 650S being so tight.
On the move, the car can be as quiet as you want it to be. The aluminum throttle pedal has many trips, so you will not accidentally give a rear end to someone if you sneeze, and in automatic mode the gearbox happily makes its own way. Forward visibility is very good, and rear visibility is acceptable for a central convertible, though I'm not sure if McLaren says glazed buttresses help you look over your left shoulder – maybe I'm too small to find Out. With the roof at high speed on the highway, everything is very refined, and not so bad from top to bottom at 70mph (112km / h).
Things get more interesting when you take more control over the driving experience. Again, as with all McLarens, there are separate mode controls for handling and power train, each offering Comfort, Sport and Track settings. For handling modes, comfort makes great use of the front rear suspension of the car (for a detailed description of how this works, please refer to the review of the 650S Spider) giving the 720S a ride that some executive sedans would envy . From there, things get progressively more rigid and more performance oriented, although even in Track mode, the ride has never been particularly hard.
Climbing the comfort powertrain through the sport and then to track remapping the throttle response. In addition, in the Sport it will cut the ignition momentarily to the engine during the gears, and in Track the steering wheel offers an extra boost of torque at each gearshift (McLaren calls this Inertia Push) for more perfect gearshift . This may sound like marketing, but the seven-gear box is remarkable in Track, no hesitation when you pick up the next gear under strong acceleration.
As we only drive the 720S on the road, we have not come close to its limits of handling, but these are apparently more exploitable now, thanks to a new generation of Proactive Chassis Control software. In supercars like these, there's always the danger that driving at cool speeds seems annoying because it's way below the limit of the car. While the 720S felt a bit less alive than Ferrari's 488 at 70 mph, feedback through the steering wheel was communicative and always engaging. Apart from the tight feet, my only complaint was the soundtrack, or the lack of it. A turbocharged engine will always sound boring and dumb compared to a natural vacuum cleaner – just compare the Ferrari 488 to its predecessor if you do not believe me – but you can add some character as the hardcore 600LT Spider proved the day after.
If the 650S Spider was a supercar with a PhD, that should make the Spider 720S a supercar that just won a position at school.