New McLaren 720S Promises A Super Series Sequel Even Better Than The Original

Terminator 2. The Empire Strikes Back. Aliens. These may be more the exception to than the rule, but some sequels have been known to surpass the originals. And that’s what McLaren is going for with the introduction of the new 720S at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.

McLaren Automotive hit the scene in 2011 with the launch of the MP4-12C, which in turn lead to the 650S in what has since been aligned as the company’s core Super Series. Compelling as it is, though, the 650S was more of a refresh on the 12C. What you see here is a completely new model – and McLaren’s first real effort at entirely replacing one of its celebrated supercars.

Like its predecessors and stablemates, it’s built around a carbon monocoque, with a twin-turbo V8 mounted behind two seats and driving the rear wheels. But those building blocks have all been reworked, and so has everything else around them.

For starters, the engine that displaces 3.8 liters in the 650S (and everything else Woking makes) has been enlarged to a nice round 4.0. It’s also been fitted with new twin-scroll turbochargers and lighter internal components – 41 percent of which have been replaced from the previous version.

Output has increased as a result to 710 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. In and of itself, that’s already enough to embarrass the new Lamborghini Huracan Performante and the Ferrari 488 GTB by both measures, and by some margin. In fact, you’d need to step up to a twelve-cylinder supercar like the new Ferrari 812 Superfast or Lamborghini Aventador S to exceed those figures.

Impressive, but there’s more to McLaren’s latest than its output. The power-to-weight ratio (which the automaker claims as the best in its segment) is further optimized by a lighter monocoque chassis and other weight-reduced components that keep the lightest dry weight down to 2,828.5 pounds, and the curb weight (with fluids) to 3,128 – several hundred less than either the 488 or the Huracan.

The 720S has some neat tricks up its sleeve, too. A “welcome sequence” deploys the mirrors, sweeps up the indicator lights, switches on welcome lights, and illuminates the engine bay as the driver approaches. Open the butterfly door and it deploys the Folding Driver Display, which can be used under way in either full array or in a slim display mode to provide only the information needed without further distraction when putting the pedal to the proverbial metal.

There’s a Variable Drift Control system (ostensibly like the Drift Mode in the Ford Focus RS), and a reprogrammed Proactive Chassis Control II system based on algorithms researched at the University of Cambridge. Other features we loved from the 650S are still present, including the quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the precise electro-hydraulic power steering, hard-gripping carbon-ceramic brakes, brake steer system, and the magnetorheological damper that does away with traditional anti-roll bars.

The whole thing is enveloped in fresh aluminum bodywork that ushers in a new, more fluid design language for the brand – though part of us liked the old one better. The minimal surface vents (which still improve cooling by 15 percent) and teardrop-shaped greenhouse remind us somewhat of the Pagani Huayra, and promise improved outward visibility. Meanwhile the interior (trick displays aside) is designed to be more luxurious and ergonomic than any McLaren before.

The sum total of everything McLaren has put into (or taken out of) the new 720S is positively blistering performance. The manufacturer cites a 0-60 time of just 2.8 seconds, a quarter-mile in 10.3, and a top speed of 212 miles per hour. That ought to make for quite the followup act, and a sequel that looks poised to completely overshadow its predecessor – not to mention the competition.

Article has been updated with live images from Geneva

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  • Can’t figure out if I like it…

    • Astonman

      I think it’s the headlights. Didn’t like the headlights of the last design at first but grew to like it. Maybe the same here when I see it in person.

      • You might be right. Loved the P1, didn’t like the 650s marriage of hood and headlights. Now I’m used to it. I might even like the 675LT. Need to see it outside or in real.

        • Vassilis

          Interestingly that design works better for the 675 than the 650. Maybe the more aggressive aero elements help.

          • donald seymour

            I agree, it really does.

  • kello3000

    Perfect.

  • donald seymour

    Wow, I’m speechless and not in a good way.

    • AnklaX

      It’s so sad and horribly and miserably ugly.

      • donald seymour

        AnklaX I’m so on the fence with this. I want to like it, but I can’t visually see myself driving it.

        • Belthronding Tinuviel

          then you would watch me driving it:)

          • donald seymour

            Hey have at it.

          • AnklaX

            No, because its ugly.

          • Six Thousand Times

            Zing!

  • Kaisuke971

    I’m not 100% sure about the design, especially at the front, but this car seems to be so advanced aerodynamically that when you really look at all the aero features you do understand the looks a bit more.

    • donald seymour

      Actually that’s the reason why the P1 looks the way that it looks. They, Mclaren, called the designers in after the fact they made the car. And I’m assuming that they did the same thing with this car. Only thing is that it is not as resolved as the P1.

      • Knotmyrealname

        Is your tactic to sprout rubbish just so the truth can come back to you? I’ve never heard so much tosh.

        • donald seymour

          Actually no, that is what McLaren said. The P1 was strictly a engineered focused car with aesthetics coming in second. All the air ducts on the P1 were said to be on the car before the aesthetic design process. I’m only quoting from the horse’s mouth.

          • supermanuel

            The car was designed before the ‘stylists’ came in, more likely. Engineering is still a design process. Semantics, sorry.

          • donald seymour

            I think context clues are sufficient enough.

          • supermanuel

            I know Donald, I was being a pedant. I’ll go now….

          • donald seymour

            Oh, my bad.

          • supermanuel

            ? No.

          • donald seymour

            It means my apologies.

          • supermanuel

            Yes, I got that. No apologies necessary Donald.

          • Knotmyrealname

            Well, you should go back and look what you first wrote to what you just did. Completely different. Engineering focused vs styling after the car is engineered to a production level are polar statements.

          • donald seymour

            Really? I don’t concur. I read it and I got the same message in both statements.

  • Belthronding Tinuviel

    720s looks good.but not better than 675lt. i know that 720s is successor of 650s -not675lt- but i would expect more impressive design.
    but i am pretty sure about that 720s will destroy any other supercars in the planet. power output is already sky high and is it still lighter than 488 and huracan? WTF goes on here McLaren?
    actually it seems like mclaren targets directly upper level (aventador,812) but not 488 and huracan anymore.
    ONE MCLAREN RULE THEM ALL!

    • Evan McMaster

      The Sport Series (570S) compete with the 488 and Hurucan. The Super Series (720S) comperes in a higher tier.

      • Kaisuke971

        No, the Super Series compete with the 488 and the Huracan but McLaren is so far technology wise that the italians are just lacking. They usually are a generation forward.

        • Evan McMaster

          Well in reality the 570S competes with the 488 and Hurucan because it is equally fast and comparable. The 720S does not compete with those vehicles as it is much faster and a tier above so it doesn’t matter if the “Italians are just lacking” or what the cause is but the 570S does compete with the 488 and Hurucan and the 720S doesn’t.

          • Kaisuke971

            Dude, the 488 GTB is about as fast as the 675LT, there is no way in hell the 570S competes with it in any way. It’s also slower than the Huracan even if the difference is obviously less important.

            The 570S competes with the NSX, the 911 Turbo S, the Audi R8 V10 Plus and maybe, stretching a bit, the Huracan LP580-2. Super sport cars.

            Again, performance-wise, the 720S is more on the line with the replacement of the 488 and the Huracan, that’s why it’s confusing.

          • Evan McMaster

            The R8 has 610 HP and is just a Hurucan with an Audi badge. The 911 Turbo S is faster to 50 MPH than the 918 Spyder, La Ferrari, and P1. So it definitely competes agains the 488 and Hurucan, if anything it is better. The 570S does 0 to 60 in 3.0 seconds, same time as the 488 and Hurucan. The Hurucan 580-2, Hurucan 610-4, 488 GTB, 570S, R8 V10 PLUS, and 911 Turbo S are all in the same league. The NSX is a tier below those vehicles mentioned and the 720S is a level above the mentioned vehicles.

          • Kaisuke971

            The R8 is over 100kg heavier than the Huracan, and the build quality is lower. The 911 TTS is only quicker than the P1 and the LaF and that’s until they get traction, at around 70mph. If that reason only would make it a 488 competitor, the P100D might as well be.

            The 488 GTB and the 610-4 (don’t forget it came out a couple years before most of these cars too, that has to be taken in account) are definitely in a league higher, not by much but still.

            The NSX definitely competes with these, especially when the price tag is considered, it’s just the slowest of the bunch.

            People been saying that the 570S is a supercar, it’s just an incredibly fast sport car to me.

          • Belthronding Tinuviel

            guys; 720s,huracan,488 all are in same league.but it seems that mclaren is far away already. also you must consider prices so segmentation,but not only performance figures.

            911 turbo s,nsx,570s,r8 all are in same box,just check prices and positioning strategies.

          • Belthronding Tinuviel

            it seems just an incredebly fast sport car to you,because it is.
            mclaren names it as sport series which includes 570s,570gt,540c,540gt

            same thing people are saying about 911 turbo/s, it is not a supersport but amazingly fast sports car.

          • donald seymour

            So really it is in a league of it’s own?

          • Belthronding Tinuviel

            i do not think that,but as like @kaisuke971:disqus told above, ”Again, performance-wise, the 720S is more on the line with the replacement of the 488 and the Huracan, that’s why it’s confusing”

            but anyway, 720s is a a pure destroyer.

          • It’s more like an Aventador SV so… A supercar that’s almost a Hypercard.

  • Honda NSX-R

    Very insect-like front end.

  • CarCzarDesigner

    Overall, I see a lot of improvements here. It is good McLaren is striving to be more competitive. However, I don’t understand the new styling of the front headlights. It doesn’t make this new edition any more sporty OR exotic. Rather the opposite is true. The revised styling makes this model look more comely. McLaren may have already spent their budget on this. But they should revise the headlamp design quickly and come up with something better, before they crank up production.

    • AstonMartin

      You expressed my sentiments exactly. The headlights are simply wrong for this car. The 720S deserved the signature McLaren headlights from the P1 at minimum and there are other small elements that appear unresolved but I’m certain they are present for aero/performance sake. Overall. not a huge fan of the styling at this moment but I know this car will top its segment in its ability to cover distance both quickly and efficiently.

      • CarCzarDesigner

        AM, thanks for writing. I don’t have a problem with McLaren changing their headlamp design. It was a bit of a gimmick and it could have used some refinement, but it worked! This on the other-hand is so radical and such a poor replacement, it boggles my mind.

        • AstonMartin

          Take a listen to the words of the Chief Designer as he describes the styling methodology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nc06cZ2TOQk

          • Six Thousand Times

            Thanks for this.

          • CarCzarDesigner

            Thanks. I completely understand what they were trying to accomplish. Designers are used to generating hundreds of ideas during the Design process. So, what McLaren decided on here wasn’t their only idea.

        • AstonMartin
          • CarCzarDesigner

            Aston, thanks for passing this on! The render does makes this look more aggressive. It also looks as if they lowered the roof a bit, giving the car a sleeker profile and shape.

            From this, it is apparent the P1 style headlights could have been used successfully. But if McLaren’s chief designer wanted a whole new look…then he certainly succeeded. There has been some comments posted that the car has a “insect” look to it. It is very possible that the “inspiration” of this either came from a Prey-mantis or something. Maybe the idea was to give the car an “alien” look to make it modern looking.

            As you know, it wasn’t that long ago McLaren created their signature look with the headlights incorporating their logo, with the P1. I am surprised they didn’t run it out longer and try to do more with incorporating it. In my view, it is not like the style is already outdated.

            If you consider how thin & wide the lamps are in headlight assembly of the new Ford GT, I was thinking McLaren would have incorporated similar cutting edge technology. (Consider the story of McLaren developing a system to eliminate windshield wipers altogether.) These mini lights, similarly found on a new Lincoln or Honda product, just say “cheap” & irrelevant to me. It is possible the lights used here are superior, I don’t know. But generally, McLaren is probably using equipment provided by a parts supplier they already have a contract with.

            It will be interesting to see if the new design has roots or not. Thanks for sharing.

      • donald seymour

        And @lawrencelehr:disqus I will stay with a conservative viewpoint until I see the car in the flesh. That being said, I hope it’s better visually in the flesh than in the pictures. Some cars are not that photogenic and this might be one of them. I hope.

        • AstonMartin

          Don, you are right about seeing a vehicle in person. The McLaren brand is among my favorites and just to be clear, the 720S is a very good design, however, I personally would have preferred a different headlamp design. The feature approved, although intricate, doesn’t add to its beauty. McLaren’s are more purpose built, while you have to historically look toward the Italian models for the stunning lines. Take a look at the video I placed in the post featuring the Chief Designer.

          • donald seymour

            Likewise, I feel the exact same way, but I just want stay with a conservative mind frame considering I always jump to conclusions concerning styling.

        • CarCzarDesigner

          Don, I think up close and in the flesh, this would be breathtaking. This is a highly efficient design. But knowing the process, sometimes the better ideas are left behind and not used at all. They meet their end in the trash bin. Instead of recreating a new car outright, McLaren could give the 720S a facelift in a few years, with improved airflow and styling. We will just have to wait and see.

          • donald seymour

            I’m thinking the same thing.

    • Knotmyrealname

      How long do you think it takes to redesign and homologate a new headlight for multiple countries? Days?

      • CarCzarDesigner

        If you read the comments on this thread, there has been a lot of criticism of the styling and the design of the new headlights. So, if the criticism is valid and there is enough of it, then it is reasonable to believe some of McLaren’s clients won’t like the new headlight design either.

        I admit, I am not an expert on headlight lighting or well versed in International headlamp lighting regulations. A lot of countries around the world aren’t as fussy as the United States, which lags behind Europe – both of which have the highest standards. Regardless, McLaren’s designers would have taken these regulations into account to satisfy, restrictive regulations where they sell their vehicles. It is their job! And since a lot of these lights are modular in design anyway, what’s the problem?

        Personally, I doubt McLaren will follow through on my suggestion. The new look isn’t bad enough to stop clients from buying the car. Then again, there is the competition who will attempt to surpass this.

        However to your argument, you will recall, there was some criticism with the introduction of the Alfa 4C, with its initial headlight styling. Guess what FCA did?

        • Knotmyrealname

          I’m not disputing the comments about the headlights, I’m commenting on the fact that some think it’s an easy change. It’s not, so I’ll tell you. Any kind of modification to the shape or placement on the vehicle means it has to be re-homologated. These are legal documents. Any shape change means a set of styling loops that are progressively approved upwards through the management chain, usually taking months, then following that, the quoting for the change from the supplier, the presentation of the business case to management and finally approval. Then the actual change takes place (anywhere from a few weeks to months) followed by quality checks etc and then re-homologation. So you’re normally talking about a year or so. A little less maybe. Point is, it won’t happen before production.

          • CarCzarDesigner

            Dude! Do you belong to a Union or work for a Corporate bureaucracy or something? Is that why you can’t see past the hurdles and red tape? And where it is SOP that everyone moves as fast as a turtle?

          • Knotmyrealname

            No comment.

  • salamOOn

    i am a Mclaren fan, but this is meh….. for me,classic clean mp4-12c, or 570 gt please…..

  • TheHake

    I think it looks great, but the tackiness of that flip console and “welcome sequence” is a bit too much!

  • Peter

    I bet that in 6 months everyone will get used to the front….

  • Nordschleife

    I may be in the minority here but I liked the 12C better than this or the 650S.

    • Belthronding Tinuviel

      12c looks good to me with only VÖRSTEİNER body kit.

  • fabri99

    The front-end leaves me a little…meh. I love that it is super mean, but it doesn’t have to look like an alien!

    • Gustavo Adriano

      It’s like a spaceship, it’s amazing, how come you guys deslike it?!

      • Kaisuke971

        That’s exactly why, because it’s a spaceship. When something that different from the rest comes out, it’s really hard to get used to. Our instincts lead us to be afraid of the unknown, and i think this front fascia is messing with our minds real bad haha

        • Gustavo Adriano

          Bad excuse, sorry…

      • fabri99

        I like it that they were original… but it looks just weird to me.

        • Gustavo Adriano

          It’s because of that I liked too much, is very original and better than the design language that Ferrari have been using lately.

          • fabri99

            Oh well they’re miles ahead of Ferrari in design, that’s for sure. Which is a pity, since Pininfarina, Bertone etc. are just there doing nothing…

          • Gustavo Adriano

            @fabri99:disqus I don’t like to be purist because I suppose that the sports cars niche have to be more original each year foward, however Ferrari has been doing bad things to it’s designs, since the F430 it’s difficult to swallow… I have to admit that golgen years were when Ferrari used to build 360, 456, 550/575 alongside to Pininfarina, like you said before. I miss a lot these things!!

          • fabri99

            The 360 was imo the best looking modern days Ferrari. Just fantastic… And don’t even get me started on the 550 Maranello.

  • Tumbi Mtika

    Don’t like the headlights. Still would drive.

    • Mill0048

      I think part of it is the silly orange color; I feel it cheapens the design. The headlights don’t bother me as much on the white version, just the orange one.

  • Needs more axe wounds. Why did they stop after headlights?

  • Jorge Teixeira

    Pagani just called, they want their side profile back ASAP

  • disqus_83g6mJmr6l

    what A marvelous machine! (it might as well has the best all round visibility in the supercar’s world..)

  • THAT BLACK “MESS” AROUND THE HEADLIGHTS RUIN THE FRONT END.

  • An Existing Person

    Not sure how I feel about the front end, but everything else is absolutely stunning.

  • Gustavo Adriano

    One of the best designs I ever seen!!!

    • Livethedream

      Tavo, it’s nice but it looks too much like the Huayra. They really stepped too far into Horacio’s domain. I want to like it, but I just can’t shake the similarities. However, performance sounds exciting.

      • Gustavo Adriano

        @disqus_POmFp5OjIg:disqus I do not think that there are similarities beyond these models, however if the Huayra would be like the 720S I would be proudier, because I don’t like the way the Italian one is… :/

  • MarketAndChurch

    As Donald put it, it’s an unresolved design. I kind of like it in that soft hue of blue, and I think decked out in all white or that nice silver that Aston Martin often uses, then it might look special. Whatever the case, I can’t help but wonder if a monochromatic look will make it nicer.

    In orange though, it makes me nostalgic over what the Mitsubishi Eclipse could have been if it were still around.

  • Six Thousand Times

    Face looks like an alien. Kind of a cool-looking alien, though. At least nobody will say McLaren didn’t take any stylistic risks.

  • I love the debate about what’s supposed to compete against. You talk numbers. But the numbers that will matter is the price tag. And don’t forget that most owners will not go on track with it. Enjoyment, price, image will be the key factors. Performance, that’s for our enjoyment on videos, journalists… And will participate to the image of the car.

    • supermanuel

      You think it’s about price? In my experience the majority of people buying cars like this are able to buy anything they want, so price is irrelevant.

      • It’s not about if you can afford it. Buyers will have many supercars. It’s about how much it is. They will compare it to similar priced cars and see wich is the best. The magazine’s road and track test will them ”yeah you’ll have the best car” . And if they see cars as investments or just don’t want to loose money, they’ll buy an MSO, or wait for a more extreme version in limited numbers.

        • supermanuel

          Sorry Herres, but I respectfully disagree entirely. It’s not about ‘how much it is’ at all. It’s about whether they like the aesthetics, whether they admire the brand, whether they love the way it feels on the road, would they be the first one in their cligue to have one, etc. How much it is doesn’t even factor, for the majority of these buyers.

          • Apologies accepted. ?. Agreeing too. (To desagree).

          • Knotmyrealname

            I agree with supermanuel. The price of these cars for a lot of buyers is like the cost of a coffee to you. Mere pocket lint. No, really. Some have millions in ‘loose change’ per month. And yes, they will ‘MSO it’ if they want.

          • On that we agree. But even rich people uses prices to compare things. What you get for your money is universal. Even if it’s between between two million dollars cars or two bottles of shampoo at 2 dollars.

          • Knotmyrealname

            I’m not rich at all, but I couldn’t imagine a conversation between millionaires being about the cost of an item, but just that it was new, beautiful and tailored to suit them. I’d imagine the cost of items to be a non-topic.

          • Well I wish you to be rich… And you’ll tell me.

          • Knotmyrealname

            Thank you. We’ll share stories in the first class bar lounge of an airliner as we return from our respective holidays in some exotic location.

          • supermanuel

            You’re just wrong Herres. You’re thinking like an ‘ordinary’ person. When you reach a certain level of wealth your primary motivation is to experience the wealth, not buy the cheapest shampoo you can find so that you save a dollar.

  • Vassilis

    Without a doubt it’ll be amazing car, the rear is stunning but the front is so weird. Maybe if the headlight surrounds are coloured it’ll work better.

  • Matt

    Car looks alot better in videos, especially in white. Theres a few ive seen where some media/youtubers got one on one time and to me it looks really.good and i didnt get the same odd/wierd looking headlights from just seeing it in pics

  • Eric

    Overall, it’s rather nice – it’s not ground-breaking in any macro sense (the side shot reminds me of the first-gen NSX), but the micro details abound. I particularly like the air intake from the top edge of the doors, instead of a clumsy scoop on the sides of the car – really keeps it clean and sober. My issue (and many others’ apparently) is the headlight assembly. As soon as a customer asks McLaren to paint them body-coloured, they will realise their folly.
    The flipping instrument binnacle is an interesting idea, and the sliding TC scale is brilliant.
    In summary, the artists at McLaren are mired in the tar swamp that is engineering, their wings weighed down by the need to stick the car to the road.

  • Enter Ranting

    They could have saved some weight by eliminating the motor for the instrument display.

  • SteersUright

    Stunning in its aggressive weirdness! But somehow I get the feeling of “impressive kit car” when I look at this hodgepodge of curvy lines and angles. Prob not the impression they were going for, I’m guessing.

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