The road test figures for McLaren’s legendary F1 have been seared into every petrolhead’s brain for the last few decades, but in recent years we’ve seen its remarkable acceleration numbers fall to dozens of new models – even if precious few have ever beaten its top speed.
Predictably, the 720S is one of several cars that will get from a standstill to 62mph in less time, somehow finding enough traction off the line for a 2.8sec run. Zero to 62mph takes another tenth, with 200kph (124mph) done in 7.8sec, and the quarter-mile would please Dominic Toretto, over in just 10.3sec. Top speed is 212mph.
Subscribe to evo magazine
We can provide a few more figures, having independently tested the 720S to 60mph in 2.9sec, and clocked 0-100mph in 5.6sec. We’ve also run the 720S at Anglesey’s coastal circuit, which provides a great basis for comparison with other supercars. At 1:11.5, it’s actually 1.1sec quicker than the P1 hypercar on its standard road rubber and only three-tenths off a P1 on sticky Trofeo R tyres. Only more track-focused cars such as the 911 GT2 RS and 488 Pista have gone quicker in this class.
The 720S is very much one of those cars that feels good for its numbers, too. In fact, you’d swear it was making more than its 710-horse output, given the way it’ll get from one measure to another on an autobahn or circuit.
You’d not know it at idle, when the engine sounds harsh and faintly gravely. Get up to speed though and it feels faintly unhinged, particularly on dry roads where it’s easier to find traction. The rush is accentuated by a real build-up of boost through the mid-range and you feel like Slim Pickens hanging on at the top end. While McLaren’s yet to build a V8 that has true aural appeal, the angry blare as the revs rise and rushing whoosh of the turbochargers is fully appropriate for the way the 720S absolutely lunges up each straight.
Despite the huge potential, though, the engine also has a milder, useable side, quiet and smooth at lower speeds, and the dual-clutch ’box is as happy to trundle around as it is swapping cogs at the red line. The build-up in power delivery does give the V8 some character too – adding an element of excitement to every journey knowing huge potency is just a throttle-squeeze away.