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"Brutal" McLaren's mind-blowing performance

Created on 13/12/2021 @ 10:58

McLaren drive by Steve Rogers

One word comes to mind after driving a McLaren. Brutal.

Whether it's the crème de la crème 720S or the GT the result is the same, mind-blowing performance and stupendous handling.

Some say the GT, the entry point into a McLaren, is not a true supercar because the rough edges of the 720 have been smoothed off. Yes it is .2 of  a second slower to sixty and slightly less intimidating with a more agreeable ride but anyone suggesting this is not a supercar is talking a load of old tosh.

It is also more affordable, £163k v £245k for the 720S Spider. The GT is the sort of car to swan into the golf club car park because, believe it or not, there is room for a set of clubs, in fact it has more luggage space than the boot of a Volkswagen Golf and that's not counting the small section under the bonnet which can take a carryon bag or half a dozen bottles of wine. Just to clarify, McLarens are mid-engined.

Our base was Millbrook, the car industry proving ground in Bedfordshire where the highlight of my day was taking the wheel of the 720S Spider. That's me in the picture and that volcano yellow paint job puts an extra £4,330 on the price tag. 

This is a beast of a car, the Max Verstappen of the racetrack. Maximum aggression all the time.

If the GT is kind, well sort of, the 720 is 100 per cent intimidating so just as well that I had pro driver Warren in the passenger seat giving me tips but there mainly to make sure I did not put this expensive piece of machinery into the hedge.

The biggest adrenalin rush comes on the straight mile acceleration test, a flat out dash to 120mph and then stand on the ceramic brakes to experience the McLaren's phenomenal stopping power.

Not that getting off the line is as easy as it sounds, certainly not in the hands of an amateur. The 720 has a launch control system but it was too damp and too late in the day to turn it on so it was three attempts before I got a cleanish start without the rear wheels spinning and the tail end wagging too much.

McLarens are all about numbers, the 720S weighs just 1283kg, the lightest of any supercar and it is the same for the Spider whose opening roof adds an extra 49kg.

That is one of the reasons why the car's balance and grip makes it arguably the best of the best.

The 710bhp twin turbo 4-litre V8 takes a bonkers 2.9 seconds to reach 62mph, 7.8secs to 124mph, 22 seconds to 186mph (300km/h) and on to a top speed of 212mph. A standing quarter mile is knocked off in a mere 10.3seconds.

Stopping power is as immense as the acceleration aided by an airbrake that shifts balance to the rear to maximise braking performance. That activates at high speeds but in everyday driving the car needs only 30 metres to come to a dead stop when the brakes are slammed on at 62mph.

The 720S is the core of the McLaren business, beautiful, sophisticated, fast, and a triumph in anyone's language.  Founder Bruce McLaren always wanted to build a road car but the grand prix ace's life was tragically cut short. But under Ron Dennis the dream became a reality in 2010 and the wheels keep turning.

They have  built the Artura V6 hybrid and have an eye on 2030 and the challenges that is going to bring.

Does a McLaren stir the same emotions as a Ferrari? That will take another decade or more but as far as technology goes it is sitting in pole position.


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