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Drive
Skip the reindeers, Santa; the new 720S will get you around the globe one hell of a lot quicker. To our mind, it’s the best McLaren yet.

Speed Thrills for Christmas

For the price of one new McLaren 720S, you can get three of the Porsche Boxster S. Problem is, we want both
So flexible and comfortable is the 720S that it’s a doddle to use as an everyday car.

"The 720S responds to where you’re at as a driver"

Kevin Haggarthy

 

The new McLaren 720S

Wow… now that was impressive. Our very first drive of the stunning new McLaren 720S. In truth, every McLaren road car is pretty good. The ‘baby’ 570 and its various reiterations is the best way to introduce yourself to the ‘McLaren way’, the 650 series a teaser to higher level McLaren knowhow, the P1 is on another planet, but the 720S is all of them wrapped together into usable ‘burn this mother out’ performance.

It looks drop-dead gorgeous, carries state of the art engineering, is built like a tank, and handles with the intuitive confidence that can only be achieved by a brand with performance car pedigree.

Best to invest

Yet it seems hardly any time at all that we saw the first of the new McLaren road cars, the M12, roll off the production line. Frighteningly, seven years have passed, and in that seven years the McLaren Automotive brand has gone from strength to strength. At the top of the pile is the flagship McLaren P1, a car that sold instantly to keen customers who cared not about the £866,000 purchase price, but more so about its availability. It’ll cost you about £1.8 million to buy one now, whilst the original test car is officially valued at £4 million. Who needs investment bankers? Just buy a supercar.

The 720S is but a mere £218,020. Based around a new carbon fibre ‘tub’ and upper structure, it is some 18 kg lighter than its predecessor, the 650S, and powered by a 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8. That engine generates 720 PS of power (710 bhp) at 7,500 rpm, gets you from zero to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds, and from 186 mph to zero in just 6.9 seconds. It can stop then.

A roomy high performer

The surprisingly roomy and airy cabin of the 720S is a wonderful place to be. Note the term ‘roomy’ for it is remarkably so for a serious supercar. Lots of glass and hence lots of vision, with a tremendous amount of headroom, set you up nicely – driver and passenger alike – for many miles of high speed driving.

Just this minute, before turning fingers to key board, I was chatting to an Aston owner who thought the 720S might be too fast for his driving ability. But I said: ‘No, you’re wrong.’ The 720S is one of those rare gems that responds to where you’re at as a driver, and is just as rewarding to Joe Bloggs as it would be to Lewis Hamilton. If Joe, though, gets nearly as good as Lewis, it just ups its game to your new standard. You set the bar; the 720S adjusts. Simply put, it’s the opposite of intimidating, but fast, extremely fast.

However, so flexible and comfortable is the 720S that it’s a doddle to use as an everyday car. Sit in traffic in its regular everyday drive setting and (apart from its futuristic cabin and the inevitably gobsmacked audience) from a comfort and driveability perspective you could be sitting in an everyday car.

But nothing prepares you for the ‘rocket from hell’ thrust you get when you put attitude into your 720S driving. Floor the throttle and you will ultimately hit 212 mph. It’s Lucifer on four wheels, and is the car that brings out the devil in you. Sin you will, again and again. Skip the reindeers, Santa; the new 720S will get you around the globe one hell of a lot quicker. To our mind, it’s the best McLaren yet.

 

Or a new Porsche Boxster S?

The Porsche Boxster S is a car with proven credibility that has simply got better and better in its 20 years plus history. Now in its fourth generation, the biggest talking point is Porsche’s departure from the much loved flat six Boxster engine to a 2.5 litre flat turbocharged four. We won’t debate the reasons for the change as you’ll find that in umpteen road tests. The fact is it’s done. Another ‘fact’ is that the new 718 Boxster tested here is quicker on paper and quite frankly a better performing car all round – build quality and trim are up to the usual Porsche standards too.

Performance is everything

For Porsche people, performance is everything; so with the new car 0-62 mph comes up in 4.4 seconds, whilst its predecessor achieves it in 4.9 seconds. The top speed of the new car is 177 mph compared to 172 mph in the previous model. The new car generates 350 bhp and the old 310. Speed and performance aside, the new car is kinder to the environment, and to the pocket, with 167 g/ km of CO2 and an average 38.7 mpg – compared to the old car’s 190 g/km of CO2 and 34.4 mpg.

In those terms it’s a hands-down victory to the new 718. What’s more, this latest model boasts a better sorted chassis and better grip, so much so that we are in accord with many that this is one of the best handling sports cars available on our roads today.

New versus old… which engine is best?

The acid test for the prospective new Boxster S buyer will be the new way the four-cylinder delivers that improved performance. To any enthusiast, sound matters, and quite frankly this one doesn’t sound as raspy and exhilarating as the old one does. It also lacks that deep-down gruff of natural power that is the hallmark of the previous car. Whilst the power is there, and the growl is awakened by the simple pressing of the ‘Sport’ button, the new engine feels rather lacking over the old – especially for hard mid-range overtaking. Although, statistically, the power is all there; it just doesn’t feel as ‘throaty’ and (probably due to the turbos) lacks that direct throttle to power communication you get from the old flat six. The debate is not really about which is best as the new four-cylinder engine is stonking and technically the better option, it’ll really boil down to how the driver warms to Porsche’s new way of delivering Boxster S power.

But hey, what a machine! It looks drop-dead gorgeous, carries state of the art engineering, is built like a tank, and handles with the intuitive confidence that can only be achieved by a brand with performance car pedigree. A Porsche Boxster S for Christmas. Wow, what a thought. Love it.

 

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