McLaren’s replacement for the 650S brings more power, better performance, and new tech

After three years on the market, the first-generation McLaren Super Series was replaced by a redesigned model at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. Dubbed 720S, the core member of the second-generation Super Series has been thoroughly redesigned inside and out and gained a revised, larger V-8 engine.

Introduced in 2014 as a replacement for the 12C, the company’s first mass-produced sports car, the McLaren Super Series has had a successful three of years on the market as of 2017. It spawned several road-going and race-spec versions, including the 650S, 675LT, and 650S GT3, forming the brand’s most comprehensive family of vehicles yet. But, despite its success and tremendous performance, McLaren decided to give the Super Series a makeover and launch the brand-new 720S in 2017.

Codenamed P14, the successor to the 650S is the first new model in McLaren’s new business plan, which includes a £1-billion investment for 15 new products by 2022. Built around a new carbon-fiber tub called the Monocage II, the second-gen Super Series ditched the company’s ubiquitous 3.8-liter V-8 for a new, 4.0-liter unit. Design-wise, The 720S is a significant departure from the 650S and incorporates radical active aerodynamics, as well as loads of new technology in the cockpit. As you’d expect from a new-generation supercar, the 720S is lighter, faster, and even more dynamically capable than its predecessor. Let’s find out more about that in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the McLaren 720S.

  • 2018 McLaren 720S
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    7 Speed SSG
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    710 @ 7500
  • Torque @ RPM:
    568 @ 5500
  • Displacement:
    4.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    2.8 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    212 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    9.3/10

Exterior

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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Unlike its main competitors, which are heavily based on their forerunners, the design of the 720S is rather revolutionary compared to the 650S. Sure, the sports car boasts similar proportions and keeps its predecessor’s somewhat short nose and long rear decklid, but the actual styling features are brand-new. Up front, the 720S has a more angular design, especially in the areas where the fenders run into the trunk lid and the nose.The headlamps are no longer incorporated into the upper fenders, but sit lower and inside big carvings at each corner. Also, the daytime running lights are separate units now. Down below, the 720S gained a body-colored bumper, but the splitter continues to be offered in bare carbon-fiber finish.

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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The design of the 720S is rather revolutionary compared to the 650S.

The car’s profile is actually very similar to the 650S as far as shape goes, but there are numerous changes to talk about. For starters, it has a lower beltline and a slightly narrower cabin, which makes the fenders seem wider. Also, the 650S’ big vent in the rear fenders was ditched altogether for a smaller vent in the side skirts. It might seem like the 720S might have cooling issues, but the radiator’s function is now carried out by the "double-skin" aerodynamic design of the dihedral doors, which channel air to the engine.

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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2015 McLaren 650S High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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All told, the 720S is the most aggressive and aerodynamically advanced McLaren to date.

Around back, the 720S sports a flatter fascia with the previous taillights replaced by very thin LED strips. The horizontal-slat grille is gone, as are trapezoidal exhaust pipes. The latter retained their position between the taillights, but McLaren went with round pipes on each side of the "McLaren" logo. The rear diffuser was also redesigned and looks like it has been inspired from high-performance racing. More importantly, the small wing seen on the 650S was replaced by a different aerodynamic device that occupies a large portion of the decklid. When activated, the rear section of the spoiler lifts up to create a wing-like element.

All told, the 720S is the most aggressive and aerodynamically advanced McLaren to date. Okay, maybe the aggressive part is up for debate if we bring the P1 into the equation, but the new Super Series is definitely the most menacing proposition in this niche.

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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2014 McLaren P1
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COMPETING DESIGNS

2016 Ferrari 488 GTB
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2015 - 2016 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Ferrari 488 GTB High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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2015 - 2016 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 High Resolution Exterior
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Both the 488 GTB and Huracan have styling cues that make them stand out.

Developed to replace the ageing but still awesome 458 Italia, the 488 GTB (left) is more on the evolutionary side of things as far as design goes. Although it sports some styling features seen on the LaFerrari, the 488 is still heavily based on the 458. That’s not to say that the GTB is not as exotic as a Ferrari should be. On the contrary, it has everything it needs to become a classic and it will probably age nicely, but park it near the McLaren 720S and it will probably look a little dull. The upcoming, higher-performance GTB Scuderia will probably provide a more menacing look, but we won’t know for sure until it breaks cover. Another competitor to consider is the Lamborghini Huracan (right). Around since 2014, it was introduced to replace the iconic Gallardo, and unlike the 488 GTB, it has a revolutionary design. Highlighted by more angular lines sourced from the larger Aventador, the Huracan is Lambo’s most aggressive entry-level model yet. However, it’s not as dramatic as the 720S, sporting smoother, somewhat more elegant surfaces instead of McLaren’s organic design language. But at the end of the day is just a matter of taste. If I had the cash and a choice, I’d go with the McLaren 720S, but both the 488 GTB and Huracan have styling cues that make them stand out.

Ferrari 488 GTB Lamborghini Huracan McLaren 720S
Wheelbase (Inches) 104.3 103.1 105.0
Length (Inches) 179.8 175.55 179.0
Width (Inches) 76.9 75.74 81.0
Height (Inches) 47.8 45.86 47.0
Track front/rear (Inches) 66.1/64.8 65.66/63.77 TBA

Interior

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Interior
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While the exterior is aggressive and somewhat futuristic, the cabin is downright mind-blowing. Granted, the 650S wasn’t bad either, but the 720S’s cockpit has race car written all over it. The driver’s side is basically separated from the rest of the cabin, with the slim center stack oriented toward the main seat. The vertical screen has all the important buttons and knobs near the steering wheel, while the transmission control are stacked on top of each other below. This design is definitely unique and seems to be very practical too.

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Interior
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2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Interior
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2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Interior
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While the exterior is aggressive and somewhat futuristic, the cabin is downright mind-blowing.

Behind the carbon decorated, flat-bottom steering wheel lies McLaren’s new, revolutionary folding instrument cluster. Designed to rotate around its horizontal axis, the "Folding Drive Display" provides a comprehensive range of information in its regular, upright position, and switches to Slim Display Model to show only essential data on a small strip, just line in a race. The idea is to keep the driver focused on the important info while driving at the track, but it should also appeal to those who prefer simplicity.

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Interior
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2015 McLaren 650S
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The cabin combines authentic British craftsmanship with leather, Alcantara, carbon-fiber, contrast stitching, and amazing fit and finish.

The eight-inch infotainment screen in the center stack is described as "new integrated approach to sharing information" and runs multiple applications simultaneously with access to audio, media, and navigation controls, among other features. On top of that, it provides quick-access keys to other functions, making the infotainment system much easier to use while driving.

As expected, the cabin is packed with luxury features. The new Super Series features switches machined from aluminum and fine leather upholstery, while overall design is light and airy. Visibility has also improved dramatically. McLaren also claims that the Super Series’ cabin will rapidly become recognized as the most welcoming and engaging in the supercar sector. This is pretty much evident in the photos, which show authentic British craftsmanship combining leather, Alcantara, carbon-fiber, contrast stitching, and amazing fit and finish.

The upholstery is available in either black or black and Scoria Grey, but I’m sure many more options can be had from McLaren Special Operations. You can choose between standard or carbon-fiber seats, opt for two carbon-fiber packages, and leather or Alcantara steering wheel, among others.

THE COMPETITION

2016 Ferrari 488 GTB High Resolution Interior
- image 615040
2015 - 2016 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 High Resolution Interior
- image 551752
When it comes to craftsmanship, both Ferrari and Lamborghini offer top notch cockpits.

When it comes to craftsmanship, both Ferrari and Lamborghini offer top notch cockpits. However, matching the 720S’s new layout is a difficult task. Unlike the McLaren, the 488 GTB (left) has a more classic configuration, with the dashboard and center console built as separate units. This is somewhat awkward in this day and age when automakers are racing to offer the sportiest, race-inspired center stacks, but it’s a design that every Ferrari aficionado will appreciate. Me, I’m not a big fan, so the GTB’s cabin isn’t exactly impressive to my eyes. Sure, I like the two-tone dashboard and door panels, the bucket seats, and the vast amount of options when it comes to upholstery and colors, but the overall design is rather dull. The Huracan, on the other hand, has everything it needs to match the 720S’s race-inspired cockpit. Except for the rotating instrument cluster, that is! But the slanted center console and the aggressively shaped dashboard will make you feel like you’re in a race car. Of course, it still doesn’t feel as fresh and advanced as the McLaren, but all the right features are there, including bucket seats, fine leather and Alcantara, and a ton of expensive options to make the cabin your own.

Drivetrain

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Drivetrain
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Although it was initially believed that the award-winning, twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 will carry over in the 720S with upgraded internals and more power, McLaren developed a new engine for the second-gen Super Series. Now displacing 4.0 liters, the unit is heavily based on the previous engine, sharing 59 percent of existing parts. The output is rated at 720 PS and 770 Nm of torque, which converts to 710 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. That’s a 70-horsepower and 68-pound-foot increase over the 650S and a 44-horsepower and 53-pound-foot upgrade to the 675LT.

Now displacing 4.0 liters, the unit is heavily based on the previous engine, sharing 59 percent of existing parts.

These figures make the 720S the most powerful Super Series model yet and places it just below the P1. While the hypercar gets 903 horsepower and 723 pound-feet from the hybrid drivetrain, the gasoline V-8 engine generates only 17 horses more at 727 horsepower. The P1’s torque figure is actually lower at 531 pound-feet.

McLaren didn’t release many specific performance figures, but did say that the 720S needs less than three second to hit 62 mph from a standing start. With the 650S capable of reaching the benchmark in three ticks, the new Super Series should do it in around 2.8 seconds thanks to the extra oomph, lighter curb weight, and chassis improvements. With the 650S known to hit 62 mph in 2.9 seconds, I wouldn’t be surprised is the 720S would do it in 2.7, or nearly as quick as the P1. The 720S will also hit 124 mph in less than eight seconds, which makes it a half-second quicker than the 650S and likely faster than the 675LT, rated at 7.9 clicks, too.

The 720S needs less than three second to hit 62 mph from a standing start.

Top speed is also higher now, having been increased from 207 to 212 mph. Other numbers made available by McLaren include braking from 124 mph in just 4.6 seconds, a combined fuel consumption of 10.7 liters per km, and CO2 emissions of 249 grams per km in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

The architecture of the new supercar is based around a new carbon fiber tub and upper structure, called the McLaren Monocage II. This technology delivers extreme strength and rigidity in a lightweight structure and it’s combined with a range of aluminium alloys in the chassis. McLaren also developed a new generation of its Proactive Chassis Control, new suspension, and electro-hydraulic steering for increased grip, balance, and performance.

Although McLaren has yet to say anything during the launch event, it was revealed earlier in 2017 that the 720S’ drivetrain has been designed to receive a hybrid system, which means that a gasoline-electric model is also in the books. However, the hybrid will be added at a later date and most likely in a car with a different name.

McLaren 650S McLaren 675LT McLaren 720S
Engine 3.8-Liter V-8 Twin Turbo 3.8-Liter V-8 Twin Turbo 4.0-litre twin-turbo V-8
Power 641 HP @ 7,250 RPM 666 HP @ 7,100 RPM 710 HP @ 7,500 RPM
Torque 500 LB-FT @ 6,000 RPM 516 LB-FT @ 5,500-6,500 RPM 568 LB-FT @ 5,500 RPM
Transmission Seven-Speed Dual Clutch Seven-Speed SSG 7 Speed SSG
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) 3.0 seconds 2.9 seconds 2.8 seconds
0-200 km/h (0-124 mph) 8.4 seconds 7.9 seconds 7.8 seconds
Top Speed 207 mph 205 mph 212 mph
Weight 3,148 Lbs 2,927 Lbs 2,828 Lbs
Weight distribution (Front/Rear) 42.5%/57.5% 42.5%/57.5% TBA

COMPETING PERFORMANCE

2016 Ferrari 488 GTB Drivetrain
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If there's one thing that puts the 488 GTB and the 720S in the same league, it's their drivetrains.

If there’s one thing that puts the 488 GTB and the 720S in the same league, it’s their drivetrains. Just like the McLaren, the Ferrari uses a twin-turbo V-8. Displacing 3.9 liters, the force-fed unit cranks out 660 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. But don’t let the missing 50 horsepower fool you, the 488 GTB is almost as quick as the 720S from 0 to 62 mph, needing three second to reach the benchmark. Depending on the final specs of the McLaren, the Italian supercar is one to two tenths slower. Sure, two tenth make a big difference in this segment, but it’s not a decisive factor when buying high-profile supercar. As far as top speed goes, the 488 GTB is rated at "only" 205 mph, versus the 720S’s 212-mph rating. Unlike the 720S and 488 GTB, the Hucaran comes with a more traditional, naturally aspirated engine. Shared with the Audi R8, the 5.2-liter V-10 cranks out 610 horsepower and 413 of torque. The Huracan may seem at a disadvantage when compared to its competitors, but its 0-to-62 mph time of about three seconds prove that power and torque aren’t everything when it comes to brutal launches. The Lambo’s top speed is listed at 205 mph, which puts it on par with the 488 GTB, but below the 720S. The good news here is that Lambo just launched the Huracan Performante, a higher performance version with active aerodynamics that’s 88 pounds lighter and has a 631-horsepower and 443-pound-feet engine. The sprint to 62 mph comes in 2.9 seconds, but its most important feature is that it set a new production car lap record on the Nurburgring!

Ferrari 488 GTB Lamborghini Huracan McLaren 720S
Engine 3.9-liter V-8 - 90° - Turbo – Dry Sump 5.2-liter V-10, 90°, IDS+MPI dual injection 4.0-litre twin-turbo V-8
Power 660 HP @ 8,000 RPM 610 HP @ 8,250 RPM 710 HP @ 7,500 RPM
Torque 560 LB-FT @ 3,000 RPM 413 LB-FT @ 6,500 RPM 568 LB-FT @ 5,500 RPM
Transmission 7 gears F1 dual clutch 7-speed LDF dual-clutch 7 Speed SSG
0-100 km/h (62 mph) 3,0 seconds 3.2 seconds 2.8 seconds
0-200 km/h (124 mph) 8,3 seconds 9.9 seconds 7.8 seconds
Top speed 205 mph 201 mph 212 mph
CO2 emission 260 g/km 290 g/km 249 g/km
Fuel consumption 11.4 l/100 km 12.5 l/100 km 10.7 l /100km
Curb weight 3,020 Lbs 3,134 Lbs 2,828 Lbs
Weight distribution 41,5% front – 58,5% rear 42 % front – 58 % rear TBA

Prices

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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Pricing for the 720S starts from £208,600 in the U.K., which accounts for a £13,350 premium over the outgoing 650S. In the U.S., the supercar fetches $284,745 before options. For reference, the outgoing 650S was priced from $265,500, so we’re looking at a premium of almost $20,000.

COMPETING PRICES

The Ferrari 488 GTB retails from $242,737 in the U.S., a sticker that makes it a more affordable choice compared to the McLaren 720S. Priced from $237,000, the Lamborghini Huracan is also slightly easier on the wallet. Even the Huracan Performance costs less, retailing from $274,390. All told, the 720S is the most expensive supercar on the list, but that’s far from surprising given the more powerful engine and all that technology.

Ferrari 488 GTB $242,737
Lamborghini Huracan $237,000
Lamborghini Huracan Performance $274,390
McLaren 720S $284,000

Other Options

Audi R8 V10 Plus

2017 - 2018 Audi R8 High Resolution Exterior
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2017 - 2018 Audi R8 High Resolution Exterior
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The R8 might not be as exclusive and powerful as the 720S, but it has proper supercar looks and its interior is nothing to sneeze at when it comes to premium features. Redesigned for 2017, the R8 received the same 5.2-liter V-10 engine as the Huracan. While the base model comes with just 540 horsepower and 398 pound-feet, the Plus model gets the same ratings as the Lambo. Specifically, the V-10 cranks out 610 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. We’ve already established that this is not enough against the 720S, but while the Huracan is able to keep up when it comes to acceleration, the R8 Plus is a tad slower, needing 3.2 seconds to hit 62 mph. Top speed is identical to the Huracan at 205. But it’s not all bad news. Priced from $189,900, the R8 V10 Plus can save you nearly $100,000 compared to the McLaren 720S. Quite the bargain, huh?

Find out more about the Audi R8 V10 Plus here.

Conclusion

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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The 650S (and the whole Super Series for that matter) turned McLaren into a full-fledged sports car manufacturer and proves that the little British firm has what it takes to give the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini a run for their money. The new 720S brings improvements in just about any department and turns McLaren into an even more dangerous competitor for Italy’s iconic brands. It’s styling is aggressive, yet tasteful, it has the best cockpit in the segment, state-of-the-art tech and significantly more oomph than its most important competitors. What more could you want from a supercar? Yeah, I know, a successor to the 675LT would be downright awesome, but the cool thing about the 720S is that it doesn’t need any upgrades to win races against the 488 GTB and Huracan.

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Rendering

2018 McLaren 720S Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Press Release

The new McLaren 720S makes its global debut today (March 7) at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show, introducing the second-generation of McLaren’s Super Series and simultaneously raising previously accepted limits of performance in the supercar sector.

“Super Series is the core of the McLaren business and personifies the blend of extreme performance, crafted luxury and unparalleled driver involvement that is the McLaren heartland. This is the first time we have replaced a product family and the new 720S is absolutely true to McLaren’s pioneering spirit in being a revolutionary leap forwards, both for our brand and the supercar segment.”

Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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The unveiling of McLaren’s new supercar confirms both the 720S name and 720PS horsepower of the first model in the second-generation McLaren Super Series, details which have been teased online in recent months. The Surrey, England-based manufacturer of luxury, high-performance sports and supercars, has issued a series of six press releases since January, each accompanied by an image or film containing a numerical reference - and it can now be revealed that 1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6 equals 720…

The new 720S is lighter, faster and even more dynamically capable than its McLaren 650S predecessor, with unparalleled levels of interior space and sophistication and a breadth and depth of abilities that will engage and exhilarate the driver. One glance at the 720S identifies it as a bold reinterpretation of McLaren’s design language; rooted in aerodynamic principles, the beautiful form has nothing superfluous about it: immediately and undeniably a McLaren, the new 720S is arguably the most distinctive and remarkable McLaren yet.

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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One of the key points in the design of the new Super Series is the absence of radiator intakes on the side of the car; this function is carried out instead by the unique ‘double-skin’ aerodynamic form of the dihedral doors, which channel air to the high-temperature radiators that cool the mid-mounted engine.

The new M480T engine powering the 720S continues the lineage of McLaren’s multiple-award-winning, twin-turbocharged V8 engine series. The 4.0-litre engine, which has 41 percent new part content compared to the 3.8-litre engine that continues to feature in the McLaren Sports Series, generates a maximum of 720PS and 770Nm of torque.

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Exterior
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Performance is truly astonishing: standstill to 100km/h (62mph) takes less than 3 seconds and just 5 seconds later the car has passed the 200km/h (124mph) mark on its way to a maximum speed of 341km/h (212mph). Braking is equally impressive, the new 720S coming to a halt from 200km/h (124mph) in just 4.6 seconds, covering 117m. Additionally, the extreme efficiency of the engine also goes beyond mere velocity: the new McLaren 720S delivers 10.7 litres/km combined fuel economy and CO2 emissions of just 249g/km in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

McLaren’s expertise in carbon fibre structures – every road car built by the British manufacturer since the McLaren F1 in 1993 has had a carbon fibre chassis – underpins the construction of the new 720S; the architecture of the car is based around a new carbon fibre ‘tub’ and upper structure, the McLaren Monocage II. This technology delivers extreme strength and rigidity in a lightweight structure and is the ideal base for any supercar. A range of aluminium alloys are also used extensively in the chassis, as well as for some body panels.

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Interior
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A new generation of McLaren’s Proactive Chassis Control, new suspension and the established excellence of McLaren’s power-assisted, electro-hydraulic steering, all combine to deliver huge reserves of grip, balance and performance and an unmatched breadth of dynamic capabilities.

The hand-crafted luxury inherent in a McLaren, with the authenticity of fine leathers and machined aluminium, is complemented by the revolutionary new McLaren Driver Interface, which comprises a Folding Driver Display and Central Infotainment Screen. In combination with a cabin environment that establishes new standards in the supercar segment for visibility, space and comfort, these attributes give the new McLaren 720S an incredible degree of usability and validate its claim to be the most complete supercar on sale today.

2018 McLaren 720S High Resolution Drivetrain
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The new McLaren 720S is now available to order from McLaren retailers, with the first customers scheduled to receive their cars in May. Three grades of specification are offered, with Performance and Luxury trims extending above the standard level, all complemented by a range of option packs.

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