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McLaren strikes out of the park again with Spider 720S Convertible

A McLaren 720S Spider

Jonathan Gitlin

Although we were doing everything we could to cover our own travel costs, in this case McLaren took us to Phoenix to drive the 720S Spider (and the 600LT Spider, we published it last week) and we offered two nights in a hotel.

In 2016, we tested the McLaren 650S Spider, a carbon fiber roof supercar that we thought was so smart that she deserved a doctorate. But three years, it's long in the world of supercars, and the 650S is an old news. Meet the McLaren 720S Spider. It is also made from carbon fiber. But now, instead of a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8, there's a more powerful 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8. The car also has a brand new roof mechanism that goes up or down in just 11 seconds.

At the same time, the new model is lighter than the outgoing Spider (weighing 38 kg), making it the lightest car in its class (compared to the Ferrari Pista Spider, the Lamborghini Huracan Performance Spyder or the Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster). It's incredibly fast and extremely catchy – two qualities you'd like if you were spending $ 315,000 for a supercar. But it is also incredibly easy to drive, civilized, and even good enough for gasoline, knowing that it is capable of hitting 90 km / h in 2.8 seconds before surpassing 341 km / h.

The carbon fiber bathtub is at the heart of the 720S. Called MonoCage II-S, it is slightly different from the bowl of the 720S coupe to account for the fact that the roof goes up and down. However, no additional reinforcement or reinforcement adds structural rigidity to the Spider, although two carbon fiber roll-over hangers are glued to it (which also anchors the roof and seat belts). ). Compared to the 650S bathtub, it is easier to enter and exit thanks to the low ledges and easier to see in front and behind, thanks to the thinner A pillars and to a better rear visibility.

The 720S Spider is one of McLaren's mid-range Super Series models, and also incorporates carbon fiber body panels (as opposed to the steel and plastic panels used on the 570S, 570GT and 600LT Series cars). Sport). This gives the 720S Spider a dry weight of only 2332 kg (2937 lbs); for comparison, the 720S coupe weighs only 49 kg.

The style may not suit everyone – I know when I saw the 720S coupe and those I was not a fan of headlights, but in the three painted shades that McLaren brought to Arizona (Aztec Gold, Belize Blue and Supernova Silver, pictured), I find that the front look is much more nice to watch. On the sides and on the back, it's a coup de grace, at least for this author. At the back, there is an active rear spoiler that now covers the width of the car. This performs a number of functions. It can increase to increase the force of support, stay flat to reduce drag when accelerating in a straight line, or appear as an air brake when braking suddenly to reduce distances. stop and improve stability. The wing adds 30% more ground support than the smaller 650S Spider and McLaren claims the new car is 30% better in terms of aerodynamic efficiency (lift: drag ratio) .

Jonathan Gitlin

The 4.0L M840T engine is based on the 3.8L unit that fits almost every other car in the brand (except the Senna). The stroke has been increased by 1.4 inches (3.6.mm) to increase capacity. McLaren says overall, 41% of M840T parts are new compared to the M383T of the 650S, including, but not limited to, new turbochargers, intercoolers, plenums, cylinder heads, crankshaft, electronic gates for lighter waste and pistons. The maximum power is 710 hp (530 kW) at 7,500 rpm, with maximum torque at 568 lb-ft (770 Nm) between 5,500 and 6,500 rpm. (The speed limit is 8,100 rpm in first gear and 8,200 rpm.) As with all McLaren, power is transmitted to the rear wheels via a "transparent gearbox". twin-clutch seven-speed ".

As you can imagine, with such a small mass, power and torque, the performance is brilliant. From nothing, you'll reach 60 mph in 2.8 seconds or 100 km / h in 2.9 seconds. Zero at 200 mph (200 km / h) is shipped in 7.9 seconds, and it will reach 186 mph (300 km / h) in 22.4 seconds. As mentioned earlier, the maximum speed is 341 km / h (212 mph) when the roof is raised; with the top roof, it is limited to 325 km / h (202 mph). The braking power is just as impressive, thanks to carbon ceramic brakes (15.4 inches / 390 mm front, 15 inches / 381 mm rear) and this active rear spoiler. A stop at 62 mph requires only 99.4 feet (30 m) and occurs in 2.8 seconds; at 124 mph, it will stop completely in 4.6 seconds on 387 feet (118m). These performance metrics are almost identical to those of the 720S coupe: it yields 0.1 seconds to the slightly lighter hardtop in the 125 mph run and the quarter mile (10.4 seconds vs. 10.3 seconds) and a full second at dash at 186 mph.

Although people still tell me that fuel consumption does not matter to those who buy cars worth $ 315,000, I believe that some of them they still care about the environment. For a car over 700 horsepower, it's actually pretty good – the EPA class at 15/22/18 mph (city / highway / combined). After a tough day of driving, our test car reported just over 20 mpg. McLaren says the car that will replace the 720S will be a hybrid; in fact, it is said that the entire Super Series and Sports Series will be hybridized by 2024. A McLaren electric battery will however have to wait a few breakthroughs in the weight of the battery.

But you could have learned all that from reading the McLaren press kit. The reason we went to Arizona was to drive the Spider 720S (and the Spider 600LT spitting fire we showed you last week). Not surprisingly, in just about every aspect, it's a better car than the one it replaces. Thanks to the new bin, it's easier to get in and out than the 650S Spider. The thresholds are lower, the opening of the door is wider, the roof bar is further forward and the rear buttresses are further back.

Once installed in the driver's seat, you will immediately notice the improvement of the passenger compartment. A larger 8-inch multimedia information display is now driver-oriented and its style is much more spectacular than the 650S, which typically has large flat areas of carpet or leather that suggest it looks like a kit. car. The steering wheel remains one of the best you can use: the width and shape of the rim in positions 3 and 9 are inspired by Lewis Hamilton's old F1 car. There is no button or switch, unlike those you would find in a Ferrari or Lamborghini.

There is a brand new digital dashboard that you can rotate to display a very small display. This happens automatically when you put the car in Track mode, although you can also switch the behavior with a button on the dash. And one of my main complaints about the 650S has now been corrected. In the old car, if you were approaching a parking ramp or retarder and wanted to lift your nose, this required multiple inputs with the joystick (which lives under the wiper stalk). -glace windshield on the right side of the wheel). This command is still there, but if you want to lift the nose now, there is a small button on its end. However, I do not remember that the floor of the 650S is so narrow.

In motion, the car can be as quiet as you want. The aluminum accelerator pedal has a lot of running, so you will not accidentally embarrass someone if you sneeze, and in automatic mode, the gearbox makes its own happiness. Visibility to the front is very good and rear visibility is acceptable for a mid-engined convertible, although I'm not sure McLaren claims the glass-backed buttresses help you look over your left shoulder. They may be too short to find. outside. With the roof rising to cruising speed on the highway, everything is very refined, and it's not so bad from the top at 112 km / h.

Things get more interesting when you take control of the driving experience. Once again, as with all McLaren, there are separate mode and handling controls, each with Comfort, Sport and Track settings. For driving modes, comfort takes advantage of the interconnected front-rear suspension of the car (for a detailed description of this, please refer to the review of the 650S Spider), providing the 720S with a ride that some sedans of direction would envy. From there, things get more and more rigid and performance-oriented, although even in Track mode, driving has never been particularly tough.

Evolve the drivetrain from Comfort to Sport, then Pistesse remake the response of the throttle. In addition, in Sport, the engine is momentarily shut off from the engine during gear changes and in Track, the flywheel provides an extra boost of torque at each shift to higher gear (McLaren calls this feature Inertia Push) for changes in speed. report more smoothly. It may sound a lot like marketing, but the seven-speed gearbox is remarkable in Track, with no noticeable hesitation when you grab the next ratio in abrupt acceleration.


As we had only driven the 720S on the road, we had not reached its maneuverability limits, but these are apparently more usable now, thanks to a new generation of Proactive Chassis Control software. In supercars like these, it is always dangerous to drive at legal speeds because they are so far below the limit of the car. Although the 720S feels a little less alive than the Ferrari 488 cruising at 70 mph, the feedback at the wheel was communicative and always engaging. Apart from the narrow foot, my only complaint is the soundtrack or its absence. A supercharged engine will always sound boring compared to a naturally aspirated engine – compare the Ferrari 488 to its predecessor if you do not believe me – but it's possible to add character, as the 600LT Spider proves. day later.

If the 650S Spider was a supercar with a doctorate, the 720S Spider would have to become a supercar that has just landed a permanent job after graduate school.

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