When I arrived for the press launch of the McLaren 720S, I was allocated a bright blue car. To get in you press the unlock button on the key-fob, walk up to the unlocked car, and with a swagger in you get, looking very pleased with yourself. At least, that’s the idea. After a very embarrassing two minutes looking for the door handle, you have to walk back to the office and ask a member of the McLaren staff how to get in it. They walk back with you, with not quite the swagger you had five minutes ago. They show you the button, quite obvious when you know where it is.
You climb in, pull the door down, and go to hit the start button. After five minutes looking for it, and failing, you get back out and go back to the office to ask. At least that’s the idea!. How do you get out? Where’s the door release? A good thing we have mobile phones. “Hello, it’s Martin, I’m in the Blue 720S, and can’t find the start button, oh, and while I’m on…. I can’t find the door release handle or button”
So, off to a good start. After being shown both the start button, and how to get out, the start button was pushed (and it was in the most obvious place) the 4.0-litre V8 engine roared into action, and roar it did.
The press launch was in a rural part of Southern England with plenty of speed humps and cameras, so doing anything daft was well out of the question.
McLaren set up the route we had to take on the very accurate sat-nav, very accurate down to the nearest 2-metres, and we have all learnt over the past few months what 2-metres is.
The 720 has lots of carbon fibre – they call it “Monocage 11” which makes it very light and very rigid with hardly any body movement when accelerating.
Despite sitting so low, there is brilliant all-round vision, it is virtually an all-glass cockpit, almost like a fighter jet. And talking of a fighter jet, it’s nearly as quick, in fact probably quicker from 0-62mph
It does this in a staggering 2.9 seconds, and if that wasn’t impressive enough – it goes from 0-186mph in 21.8 seconds. On the test route, there was no way we could test any of the facts and figures. If you did, the road humps would put you in orbit at these outrageous speeds.
The route was only an hour long, so every second in the car was precious, so the slower you went, the longer you were in it, and that was my theory, and I was sticking to it. Other journalists on the launch drove as quick as they could, when they could, so were back at base in 45 minutes. Not me, Mr Cautious, if it was 30mph, I did 28, if it was 60mph I tootled along at 58mph, much to the annoyance of other Road users, particularly White Van man, or woman. I can’t lip read but I could see some of the words coming from their mouths, and it wasn’t pleasant. What’s a silly old fool driving a car like that at 58 in a 60 when I want to do 75mph, or words to that effect.
This is certainly a great car, probably the most accomplished supercar I have ever driven. Fantastic steering, so stable, brilliant brakes, yet it is so comfortable and despite its massive amount of power from a V8 engine that produces a whopping 710bhp, it’s so docile and very drivable in all driving conditions.
Going through some small villages and down country roads it was just so easy and it never felt as though it wanted to race away. There were no surprises and no hidden quirky technical issues, it was just so nice to drive, a real pleasure. Driving it slowly was more of a test of the car than driving it quickly and a car you could live with on a day to day basis.
The cost of this high-powered, well equipped and great looking two-seater is around £208,000, but you can easily spend another £20,000 on some essential options.
So after one-hour and five minutes driving very leisurely it was time to take it back and park it in the car park and get out. Now, where is the off button… oh… and how do you get out of it again…. “ hello… it’s Martin!”