2018 McLaren 720S First Test: The New Normal Is Nuts

Back when I was a lad walking to school uphill in the snow both ways, cars knew their place. A sedan is what you drove to work because life was dull, a sports car was a silly, useless little thing, an SUV had solid axles (and not much else), a supercar was little more than bedroom wall fodder, and the term “hypercar” was just a glimmer in some marketer’s eye. These days? Fuhgeddaboudit. Bentley’s got an SUV with 77 acres of leather, two forests worth of wood paneling, a $250,000 clock, and the ability to travel at 190 mph. We just tested a sedan—the sinister Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic+—that not only runs 11.2 in the quarter mile but also comes complete with a perfume dispenser. Not joking. Now we’ve got the McLaren 720S: a run-of-the-mill supercar by the look of the spec sheet but one that behaves just like hypercar. What’s the world coming to?

Let’s enjoy a quick look at said spec sheet together, shall we? Behind the carbon-fiber passenger cell (called Monocage II) sits a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, a slightly bigger version of the 3.8-liter TT V-8 that’s been in every McLaren since the MP4-12C. Said engine is good for 711 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. Moreover, peak torque comes way up in the rev range, between 5,500 and 6,500 rpm, whereas peak power hits a fraction of a second later at 7,000 rpm. Oompa oompa! The suspension is a further evolution of McLaren’s hydraulic setup, only now there is much more communication between the variable dampers and the car’s brain via accelerometers and other fancy gizmos. Most important, and largely due to that carbon-fiber tub, the 720S is light, clocking in at just 3,167 pounds. To give you some idea just how light that is these days, the similarly purposed 661-hp Ferrari 488 GTB compresses our scales with 3,412 pounds. The Lamborghini Huracán? It’s at 3,419 pounds for the Euro-spec version. Always remember that raw power is one thing, but power to weight is everything else. Meaning we knew going in that the newest McLaren would be quick. But friends, Romans, countrymen … not this quick!

The 720S is tied for the third-quickest car we’ve tested to 60 mph. Famously, the quickest production car Motor Trend has run—the Tesla P100D Ludicrous Plus—gets it done in 2.3 seconds. The next quickest are both hybrid hypercars, the 887-hp Porsche 918 Spyder and the 950-hp Ferrari LaFerrari, tied at 2.4 seconds, though the Ferrari’s time is suspect. (We tested that car in Italy on the straight of Ferrari’s Fiorano test circuit, which runs slightly downhill.) The 720S is actually tied with the current Porsche 911 Turbo S at 2.5 seconds, a car with less power but all-wheel-drive grip. The 740-hp Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce takes 2.6 seconds to hit 60 mph. For what it’s worth, the 720S can hit 100 mph in 5.3 seconds and do 0­–100–0 mph in 8.8 seconds. Absurd.