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McLaren 720S: 2018 Motor Trend Best Driver's Car Contender

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 9/18/2018 Motor Trend Staff
2018-McLaren-720S-front-interior-1.jpg

It's the Sybil of supercars. McLaren's new 720S manifests different personalities depending on driver skill and electronic settings. Nearly every judge left most safety settings engaged for Route 198, and most emerged feeling invincible. Chris Walton: "This McLaren reads your mind, and you just 'think' your way through corners." Mark Rechtin: "It handles as though it has its own volition or sentience—but completely predictably." Jethro Bovingdon: "It rides with a fluency that the Lambo and GT2 RS can only dream of, with a balance that ebbs and flows so naturally." The car is astonishingly responsive, the steering is fingertip-light and communicative, and drivers with an ounce of skill will never detect electronic intervention on a dry road and will emerge convinced they've just defied physics. All good!

a car parked on the side of a road© Motor Trend Staff

Then our race driver with a championship pedigree climbed in and turned off most of the nannies—and set a BDC lap record. Yet Randy Pobst climbed out of the McLaren sweaty and complaining about what a sloppy lap it was and how difficult the car was to control: "I was busy! It's two different cars. Off throttle, it oversteers a lot. On throttle, it understeers a lot." This suggests that electronics may be compensating for some essential handling deficiencies. Pobst managed to fade the brakes a bit, but only because of the crazy high speeds the car achieves—a BDC-record 154.7 mph on the front straight of his first hot lap, torching the Porsche's top speed of 149.0. Pobst is convinced that improving the car's inherent balance could earn the 720S a 1:27 lap time. This car behaved so differently from an earlier one he lapped at Willow Springs' big track that we also wonder if something was amiss.

As for the long drives to the track, many editors were uncomfortable in the optional fixed carbon-fiber racing-shell seats, which are tricky to get into and out of. And the McLaren's overly electronic nature left a few editors, such as Scott Evans, cold: "I'm super impressed with it, but I'm not crazy-stupid in love with it."

More 2018 Best Driver's Car Contenders:

• Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio 
• Audi TT RS
• Aston Martin Vantage
• BMW M5
• Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
• Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack 2
• Honda Civic Type R
• Kia Stinger GT
• Lamborghini Huracan Performante
• Mazda MX-5 Miata
• Porsche 911 GT2 RS


a black and orange car© Motor Trend Staffa close up of a map© Motor Trend Staff

2018 McLaren 720S
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Mid-engine, RWD
ENGINE TYPE Twin-turbo 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 243.7 cu in/3,994 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 8.7:1
POWER (SAE NET) 710 hp @ 7,500 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 568 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm
REDLINE 7,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 4.5 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.31:1/2.27:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks; Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks
STEERING RATIO 15.2:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.5
BRAKES, F; R 15.4-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc; 15.0-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc, ABS
WHEELS 9.0 x 19-in; 11.0 x 20-in, forged aluminum
TIRES 245/35R19 93Y; 305/30R20 103Y Pirelli P Zero Corsa MC
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 105.1 in
TRACK, F/R 65.9/64.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 178.9 x 76.0 x 47.1 in
TURNING CIRCLE 39.7 ft
CURB WEIGHT 3,167 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R 42/58%
SEATING CAPACITY 2
HEADROOM, F/R n/a
LEGROOM, F/R n/a
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R n/a
CARGO VOLUME 5.3 cu ft (front)/7.4 cu ft (rear)
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 1.1 sec
0-40 1.6
0-50 2.1
0-60 2.5
0-70 3.1
0-80 3.7
0-90 4.5
0-100 5.3
0-100-0 8.8
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 1.0
QUARTER MILE 10.1 sec @ 141.5 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 93 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 1.09 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 22.3 sec @ 1.05 g (avg)
2.2-MI ROAD COURSE LAP 89.78 sec
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,750 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $288,845
PRICE AS TESTED $376,465
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes
AIRBAGS 6: Dual front, curtain, knee
BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/Unlimited miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 3 yrs/Unlimited miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 3 yrs/Unlimited miles
FUEL CAPACITY 19.0 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 15/22/18 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 225/153 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.11 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium

Want EVEN MORE from 2018 Best Driver's Car? See the cars in action right here.

2018 McLaren 720S front three quarter in motion 3© Motor Trend Staff 2018 McLaren 720S front three quarter in motion 3

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