2021 McLaren 720S review: A sublime supercar

Yes, there isn’t much subtlety here.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

If you’re going to specialize in one thing, it better be damn good. McLaren builds only one type of vehicle: the two-seater supercar. So it’s no surprise that this high-end, high-style 720S is downright impressive, delivering immense capabilities in more ways than one might expect.

Like it

  • Fairytale performance
  • Crazy style
  • Crazy everything

I do not like

  • Mediocre infotainment
  • Strange feeling of the brake pedal
  • No smartphone mirroring

Subtlety is the one thing the McLaren 720S doesn’t want to master. This thing looks straight out of the government’s UFO report. Every inch of its bodywork is designed to cut through the air, which means there are oodles of smooth curves that channel the air where it is needed, be it the radiators under the headlights, the radiators behind the doors (ec there are many) or the massive airbrake that unfolds in case of strong deceleration. The rear is pure engineering aggression, with high-mounted tailpipes and a lower fascia that offers an almost unobstructed view of the rear axle hardware.

The McLaren’s interior eliminates most of the frills, leaving only the relevant bits. On my Performance-trimmed tester, a generous amount of suede plays well against the smattering of Nappa leather on the dashboard, doors and center console. If you’re not a fan of soft stuff, the Luxury upholstery swaps it in favor of a leather suit. But regardless of the equipment, the 720S cabin is a fantastic little space, offering an impressive amount of visibility in all directions. The seats are comfortable and supportive, with my example going far beyond the optional heated electric chairs ($ 3,510).

There’s a decent amount of practicality inside the 720S too, at least for what it is. Two small cup holders in the center console allow you to take a Red Bull with you for the journey, while a tray under the infotainment system is great for phones or masks. Open the center armrest and there are two USB-A ports and space for a small bag. There’s a decent shelf behind the seats, and the frunk is large enough to fit an 8-cup food processor from Target, but a 12 or 13-cup might be a little too tall.

From a performance standpoint, the 720S is an absolute beast. With 710 horsepower and 568 Nm of torque at my disposal, it is obvious from the first acceleration that I can get the most out of this car only on the track; it’s just too damn fast at brisk driving on back roads, catapulting me well over the speed limit with very few problems. Acceleration is brutal and the V8 only seems to push harder as revs go up, turbos whistling and exhaust pipes screaming louder and louder while the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic shifts shifts with impressive swiftness. . If your passenger is not used to this kind of performance, it will probably scare them off. Hell, if you you are not used to it, it will probably scare you too.

To handle is, for lack of a better word, supernatural. The steering is wonderful, relying on an electro-hydraulic setup that sends tons of feedback to my hands. It is direct without being nervous, and it gives me a lot of confidence when I drive harder than usual. The complicated hydraulic suspension allows McLaren to forgo traditional anti-roll bars, but handling is always flat, keeping all four wheels glued to the surface underfoot. This is aided by a lot of aerodynamics, as channeled air to the body adds downforce, which only gets stronger when the active spoiler at the rear kicks in. Add a set of Pirelli P-Zero summer tires (235 / 45ZR19 front, 305 / 30ZR20 rear) and traction is almost never an issue.

And that’s with the 720S in its default Comfort mode, which I find more than suitable for almost any moment on public roads. The powertrain and hydraulics can be configured individually in Comfort, Sport or Track modes, but only after pressing the Active button on the center console. Putting the powertrain in Sport increases throttle response and speeds up gear swapping to the point where it gets a little awkward when working around. Fiddling with the hydraulics dial stiffens the suspension, prioritizing absolute performance over any semblance of comfort. There are track settings and adjustable levels of traction control available, but I really wouldn’t use them outside of a real track.

If you think McLaren’s cult obsession with performance is accompanied by a number of inconveniences on the public road, think again. The 720S is one of the smoothest supercars I’ve had the pleasure of driving. Sure, it’s still stiff, but it’s never really uncomfortable, despite possessing the ground clearance of a Tech Deck keyboard. The V8 is happy to go below 3,000 rpm and the soundtrack is second to none. The excellent visibility keeps me in the know of all the Yukons and Navigators towering over me, although hard braking will block my rear view when the airbrake horn is opened.

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it feels like to drive a fireworks factory in town, the optional sports exhaust gives you a pretty good idea.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

Speaking of brakes, this is the only part of the 720S driving experience that I would call imperfect. The pedal has a fair amount of dead zone in the initial launch, requiring a surprisingly leaden foot to keep the car stationary at traffic lights or to get out of neutral. Once the pliers begin to bite, that smoothness allows for a decent amount of modulation and in a brisk drive, it will make the whole shebang stop quickly.

As far as fuel economy is concerned, the 720S has it. The EPA rates this at 15mpg in the city and 22mpg on the highway, but if you’re buying a $ 300,000 car, you probably don’t care. The empty distance calculator changes quickly based on your driving style and it’s always pretty fun to see the car estimate only 45 miles of range left on a half tank of gas after giving ‘er the old’ thing for.

Like so many other supercars, the McLaren 720S doesn’t put much effort into its infotainment. The 7-inch screen on the dashboard offers Bluetooth connectivity, an OK navigation system with vintage TomTom graphics, and SiriusXM satellite radio – and I recommend the $ 4,420 Bowers and Wilkins 12-speaker upgrade over the standard four-speaker suit if you’re into a little music next to the V8 soundtrack. The lack of Apple CarPlay And Android Auto it’s frustrating, especially since both Ferrari and Lamborghini offer it. The digital gauge cluster has interesting graphics and does a good job of prioritizing what drivers will need to know, while those who prefer a more distilled experience can press a button, flipping the screen down to show a thin stripe display that focuses on laps, gears and road speeds.

Ferrari may charge ungodly sums for Apple CarPlay, which Apple doesn’t charge automakers to incorporate, but at least it’s an option over there.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

The plethora of active safety systems you see on other cars is not available in the 720S. For $ 3,100, you can add parking sensors and 360-degree cameras, which are sure to come in handy during city use, but that’s about it. No automatic braking, no adaptive cruising, no lane keeping assist. Just you, your feet, two pedals and (hopefully) a lot of spatial awareness.

The 2021 McLaren 720S is an expensive thing, starting at $ 303,650 including a near-criminal destination tax of $ 4,650 and continuing to rise from there. Did you like that Ceramic Gray paint job? Great, that’s going to be $ 9,400. The Performance trim adds $ 5,840 to the bottom line. Add in half a dozen other expensive options and my tester plays for $ 343,190.

At this price, there’s practically nothing a person can’t buy, and the competitive set of the 720S is filled with household names like Ferrari and Lamborghini. These are all powerful statements and they are all whistles to drive. If it were my choice, however, I would opt for McLaren. Whether it’s performance or everyday usability, the 720S impresses with every press of the start button.