The 2018 McLaren 720S is the second-generation supercar made by science


Math is not sexy. Math doesn't hang on many walls. Supercars have been primarily driven by emotion, seduction, or outright sex—but passion can be enough to drive anyone insane.

By contrast, math drives the new McLaren 720S to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds, to 124 mph in 7.8 seconds, and well beyond 200 mph, in a shape that's a wind tunnel's wet dream.

Maybe math has gotten a bad rap, after all?

At the 2017 Geneva auto show, McLaren took the wraps off the newest car in its Super Series family, the 720S, which is the follow-up to the 650S. The second-generation supercar from McLaren goes on sale in May and will likely cost around $280,000.

2018 McLaren 720S

2018 McLaren 720S

Enlarge Photo

The 720S is new from McLaren, even if the basic idea is the same as before. The 720S is a mid-engined two-seater powered by a new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 that makes 710 horsepower (or 720 metric hp, if you prefer) and 568 pound-feet of torque. The power is in a hurry to spin up the rear wheels: McLaren says the 720S is happy to rev up to 8,100 rpm in first gear, or higher in later gears, because sounding good means feeling good.

A 7-speed paddle-shifted dual-clutch transmission handles the cog swaps, and the driveline has been dropped nearly 5 inches lower in the frame this time around to give the driver better visibility and the car a lower center of gravity.

The new McLaren's shape has no fat on it. The doors and A-pillars direct air into ducting that helps cool the engine 15 percent more efficiently than the 650S. McLaren engineers left the side ducting for the radiators on the cutting room floor this time around as the 720S manages to keep its engine cool without it. A new rear spoiler adds more downforce—about 30 percent, according to McLaren—and does double-duty as an airbrake that can deploy in a half second to bring the car's prolific speed to a halt.

Carbon-ceramic discs (15.4 inches up front and 15 inches in the rear) and 6-piston calipers arrest the car nearly as quickly as the P1, according to McLaren.

2018 McLaren 720S

2018 McLaren 720S

Enlarge Photo

Underneath the carbon fiber and aluminum body, McLaren has refined its trick suspension setup from the 650S. The 720S uses the company's second-generation Proactive Chassis Control that connects all four corners with hydraulically linked dampers instead of anti-roll bars. The double-wishbones and independent dampers at all four corners are controlled by a computer that collects data from suspension components and 12 other sensors around the car to identify and react within two milliseconds, according to the company. McLaren employed engineers from the University of Cambridge to help shape the computer's algorithm.

That might be hard to understand, but what's not is the "drift" mode included in the suspension setup that enables owners to dial in the exact angle of slip they want from the car before the computers take over. So, in that way, it's kind of like a Ford Focus—RS, that is.

In every other way, the new McLaren 720S is honed to be the quickest, most-efficient way from one point to another. The new car is roughly 40 pounds lighter than the 650S, despite having a cabin shod with leather, more cargo space, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen. The 720S weighs just over 2,800 pounds dry—maybe a little more after we've drooled all over it.

For more Geneva auto show coverage, head to our dedicated hub.

 
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