MCLAREN 720S SPIDER: Test Drive
...a full-throttle supercar with a retractable roof.
Less than 10 years have passed since the McLaren MP4-12C, but the supercar manufacturer based in Woking has eliminated some annoying bumps, encountered along the way, continuing to feed our minds with superheroes of the caliber of the 570S, 675LT and the stratospheric P1.
The 720S (which I tried in its most glamorous version, the Spider one) marks another important milestone: 91% of its components are new and the engine, which has increased to 4.0 liters, also has 41% of new contents.
There is a lot of carbon fiber, the center of gravity has improved (thanks to the lower mounted engine), the frame is stiffer and lighter. But it was also designed to be used every day, accessible and not as threatening as it might seem...
I love it and its analysis, in the round, is unparalleled!
The engine, finally, is not only visible through the rear screen, but it is also illuminated in a red which, especially in the evening, seems to spit incandescent lava after you have (rightly) squeezed it thoroughly!
The useful openings on the roof (Ford GT model) of the coupe are missing, but the dihedral doors of the Spider are equally choreographic (it doesn't hurt) and have been optimized. They open higher and, although they are not as wide as those of the old 650S Spider, they give more space to enter and, above all, to do it in an elegant way.
The driving sensations are very engaging. You are sitting a few centimeters above the ground, in an advanced position and closer to the longitudinal axis of the car than other sports cars. Thanks to the large wraparound windshield you can see very well forward.
In fact, I could go as far as to say that this is the most complete supercar I have ever driven ... And know that such a statement is not something I can do so lightly!
But I realize that it is not a super sports car that everyone can sit on, at least if you want to go strong and, in the wet, its 720 HP downloaded (only) on the rear require a lot of experience and a good selection of prayers, if you don't want to risk it big; but it is precisely this grumpy and indomitable fool's behavior that won me over and impressed me more!
If you don't get caught by fear and have confidence in your driver qualities, she will pay you back with an incredible balance (especially at high speeds) and a stability that derives from her absolute mastery of aerodynamics. Here every curve, every bend, every aspect related to its design has a function and, when you push it hard, you feel it!
Then that removable wing, which also acts as an aerodynamic brake, literally drives me crazy! Sometimes I brake and accelerate, violently, only to have his vision distorted by the rear view mirror. I'm a little strange, aren't I?
... And once you're inside, you're almost certain you're sitting in a race car with the technical luxury of a contemporary GT. That's why even the "human" graphics, on the display of the air conditioner, wear a helmet.
The full carbon look, inside and out, is certainly not cheap, but should be optioned. There is a fantastic 1,280 W audio system and the speakers are an integral part of the internal topography.
But the sat nav is not so immediate and the seat controls are in a strange and difficult to reach position.
For instrumentation you can choose between the traditional panel, which clearly provides all the indications on board, and the reduced one (bar tachometer, gears and digital speedometer) which ensures greater visibility: the ideal solution when turning on the track.
Another small but important point?
The steering is not buried under a shower of buttons, but exists only to drive the car and nothing else. A rarity now in modern supercars!
It is extraordinarily effective in communicating what the car does (above all - I repeat it again - in the wet) but it must be handled carefully, because the answers are just as decisive and fast.
But if it rained a lot during our test drive, a few sunny days also did it, coincidentally in our transfer to Montecarlo, strictly along the Colle di Nava track.
The roof (Retractable Hard Top, or RHT) opens in an instant (11 seconds and with speeds up to 50 Km / h). It is a unique piece and, if you spend something more, it also becomes an electrochromatic glass panel that varies (as in a game of prestige) from almost opaque to transparent with the touch of a button. Children go crazy, but even adults are certainly not indifferent to this incredible magic.
Removing the roof in most vehicles is a shortcut to poor driving dynamics but here, this problem simply doesn't exist.
Whenever you hit the accelerator, your breathing is carried away. You can barely get the necessary space inside your brain to savor what is happening at that exact moment; if it was a fine wine, well, you should focus mainly (after drinking it) on its aftertaste.
Its carbon fiber tub has all the reinforcement needed to keep the car flex-free and stable, even without the central pillar that joins the windshield to the rear window of the Coupé.
This speaks volumes about how special it is, even when the roof is open.
In the mountains the fresh air tickles my head. The aromas tickle my olfactory glands.
The noise of the engine - exciting but never antisocial even when in sport - teases the ears. All of this adds intense, but also carefree, sensations to driving the 720S at (perhaps) street speed.
Subtle and multiple shades, which become extra-sized as you push on the accelerator.
Several times I opened the rear window, which also doubles as a windbreak, so that the impatient singing of the V8 could more easily access my ears.
Its limits are somewhere, probably in the stratosphere. Trying to get there, even if only close, requires a good dose of courage but, if you turn off all the electronics, you also have the opportunity to discover the pure genius of its chassis.
Seriously: I'm struggling to find something to criticize.
Maybe its electronics, which is not yet completely at the top or the fact that many people do not recognize it and you will often hear: "And what is ... A Lamborghini?"
Yes, maybe that's just what urges not a thrill of exclusivity, but frustration ...
Because you will hardly tire of the heady blend of performance, exploitability and personality that the 720S can offer you so well!
the best of both worlds…