Form and function: An Italian encounter with the new McLaren 720S
Nicki Shields is the presenter and pit-lane reporter for FIA Formula E. The views expressed here are her own.
McLaren is relatively new in the supercar market compared to the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche. The British marque launched its first supercar, the McLaren F1, in 1992 and has been playing catch-up since then. But with the arrival of the 720S, launched at this year's Geneva Motor Show, McLaren has not only caught up, but could be on the verge of overtaking the pack.
Yes, it's lighter, faster and more powerful than its predecessor the 650S, and goes from 0 to 100 kph in 2.9 seconds, but it's also luxurious and refined, boasting a level of craftsmanship we haven't yet seen from McLaren.
"The 720S is a new chapter in the development of McLaren's design language," Rob Melville, chief designer of the McLaren Super Series said in a news release. "McLaren is always brave in its approach and this car is the perfect expression of that innovative culture."
It's obvious the driver was at the forefront during the design process. Consider, for example, the doors. In most sports cars, navigating the narrow and low entry into the driver's seat is awkward. No matter how hard you try to effortlessly glide into the seat, an element of dignity is usually lost.
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The 720S, however, is different. As you open the dihedral doors, which incorporate part of the roof, they open wide, allowing ample room for an elegant entrance. The other benefit is the doors require less space to swing open, so you can park nice and tight to the wall and still get out without a fight with a lamppost.
The visibility is also impressive. Thanks to the carbon fiber Monocage and the beautifully sculpted glass teardrop roof, both driver and passenger can experience virtually 360-degree views. Blind spots are a thing of the past.
"The new 720S has been designed to meet and exceed the extreme performance expectations of the most demanding supercar owner, but it also has a driver environment that is incredibly light, airy and sophisticated, with peerless space, excellent all-around visibility and superb comfort," Emilio Scervo, McLaren Super Series' chief engineer, said in a news release.
This is by far McClaren's most luxurious interior to date. The leather interior, with leather extended dashboard, rear luggage and upper environment, plays to the senses. The ergonomics have also undergone a huge upgrade since the 650s, with switches in solid aluminum.
The decorative carbon fiber must also be marveled at. The 720S is built around a carbon fiber tub that's light and strong, yet also finished to such a superior quality that it's been beautifully incorporated into the design of both the exterior and interior of the car.
This fiercely fast car is a leap forward for McLaren. The seats are comfortable, the cockpit feels spacious and driver's needs come first. If you have the £218,020 ($282,183) for the luxury spec, this could very easily become your everyday car.