ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE MIGHTY MCLAREN 720S

The McLaren 720S has two personalities, one a very fast road car and two an ideal track car. My opportunity to get behind the wheel set my thoughts in motion.

Had it not have been for the humble Austin Ulster we might never have had the McLaren name in F1 or the likes of me would have never driven a supercar bearing the same name. Bruce McLaren’s father Les had bought the 1929 Ulster, the car was restored and at the age of 15 years Bruce’s motor sport career began with a class win at the Muriwai Beach Hillclimb.

Here in Ireland, McLaren F5000 cars were regulars at Mondello Park and in the 1972 Irish round of the Rothmans Championship, Brian Redman set the fastest time in qualifying, won both heats and the final itself. Gijs van Lennep finished second driving a Surtees and Keith Holland completed the top three in another McLaren. Other McLaren runners at that meeting were, Clive Santo, Guy Edwards, and Tony Dean. During the F5000 years, McLaren produced just over 50 cars. However real fame came via F1.

Fitting that my Festive treat should come courtesy of McLaren and the opportunity to take the wheel of a 720S, not only a stunning road car but one with great track day potential. The heart of this car is the MB40T engine, a four litre twin turbo V8, 720PS to play with.

Some weeks ago I reported on the 570S Spider, while a very fast set of wheels make no mistake, it is a McLaren that you could use everyday.

The 720S certainly has a good deal more grunt, but for those who have driven a competition car will understand when I state that the minute I climbed onboard it had that decided racey feel.

The now well proven seven Seamless Shift Gearbox (SSG) is in perfect harmony with the glorious sounding engine and the end result is a top speed of 212mph (341km/h).

More impressive was the acceleration, rest to 62mph (100km/h) in a mere 2.9 seconds and of course stopping ability is critical. No problem in this area, for example, 186mph (300km/h) to rest in 6.9 seconds courtesy of carbon ceramic brakes.

The emission figure is 249g/km and according to figures I obtained from the manufacturer re economy, on the combined cycle 26.4mpg (10.71l/100km).

This is one set of wheels which demands a giant helping of respect from the driver. Respect this McLaren and the reward is beyond words. In my book it deserves the title ‘supercar’. However even more potent cars will come from McLaren in the future.

I suppose the problem who ever decides to buy the 720S will he or she ever get to explore its full potential in performance terms. A race circuit would certainly be the obvious environment.

It would be so easy to assume that the 720S is all power and the glory; apart from that it has a level of luxury that may surprise many. Housed with in the carbon fibre monocoque a cocktail of creature comforts and aids which we now have come to expect.

The interior is by McLaren with a wide use of leather, the seats are heated with electrical operation and the McLaren Driver Interface features a central infotainment eight inch HR screen and folding driver display which is a nice touch.

Voice control is a feature of the infotainment system, sat nav, a good quality sound from the four speakers. Mind I had to turn the volume up on a number of occasions, the temptation was to ignore the audio and simply indulge in the racey notes coming from the V8.

Like all modern cars, the manufacturer offers a comprehensive list of options; it is like not settling for a nice steak but adding further to suit your taste.

In order to give an idea of what is available to the customer who wants to further personalise their purchase. My test car came with a number of options including, Elite Paint, carbon fibre exterior upgrade, five twin spoke wheels, coloured brake calipers; take note that was the exterior.

Moving to the interior, visible body structure, carbon fibre seat back, front and rear parking sensors ( this would be a must have), again a must have rear view camera, vehicle nose lift and a tracking system.

I did find that I needed the vehicle nose lift for those speed reduction bumps that taking the fun out of motoring for many.

All very well all this performance and luxury, but is there a practical side to the 720S? Limited I must admit, luggage capacity is 150 litres up front and 210 litres at the rear.

Now comes the news when you have to take more than a second look at the bank account. Price without options- £218,020 (€246,573) and with the options as fitted to this particular test car – £265,920.( €300,781) (N.I.).

However Santa I doubt could not even with his power deliver me one, but he might just manage a diecast model.