McLaren is not so far quoting drag coefficients or downforce, just that the 720S increases downforce by 50 per cent over the 650S while also improving engine cooling by 15 per cent. Overall the new car is said to be twice as aerodynamically efficient as its predecessor.
You’d have to say it doesn’t appear like that from seeing the car. There is little overtly “aero” about it. But this is one car you have to get up really close to see the genius of the aerodynamics. The key? Capturing clean, high energy air and using it to best effect. Normally headlights and doors don’t play a big role in achieving this, but here they do.
The open eye sockets are air inlets which have the dual role of providing cooling air for the low-temperature radiators mounted behind them and also taking clean air through ducting in the double-skinned doors to the rear high-temp radiators.
Think of these door channels as side pods on a racing car. “We looked at Can-Am cars and Le Mans cars and the ways in which they keep high energy air attached to the body,” says Rob Melville. “We went with this design language for good reason – it works.” Channelling cooling air through the doors like this means traditional exposed air intakes are not needed.
The biturbo V8 in new 4.0-litre form has more power, more torque – the same in lb ft as the 650S had in Nm, at 678 – and sits 120mm lower in the new Monocage II carbon tub.
Forty per cent of the engine is said to be new, with the engine’s stroke increased for the extra 200cc. There’s a 70bhp increase over the 3.8 engine in the 650S. At 720PS (710bhp) the new car has a 150bhp buffer to the most potent Sports Series model and outpowers the Ferrari 488GTB by 50 horses.
For the first time all the software for the seven-speed dual clutch transmission has been written in-house, and this, along with slightly less weight and significantly more torque, has the desired effect on performance, shaving a tenth off the 650S’s 0-62mph time (for 2.9secs) and 4secs off the 0-186mph (300km/h) time (21.4secs).
To go with the new aero package and the new lower centre of gravity conferred by the Monocage II tub, the 720S gets largely all-new suspension, though still with McLaren’s trademark hydraulically-interlinked dampers at each corner that remove the need for anti-roll bars, a key reason why Super Series cars have always ridden so brilliantly.
Wishbones, uprights, geometry and control systems are all new and bespoke for the 720S. Results? 16kg unsprung weight saving and, asserts the firm, six per cent pure mechanical grip from the Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres. Super lightweight forged alloys further reduce unsprung mass by 12.5kg.
There are also more electronics for the proactive chassis control system, enhancing the adjustable roll stiffness and damping functions. As before there are comfort, sport and track modes; new is a drift function operated easily via slider control that varies the amount of stability control intervention from maximum to none. As before there is no limited-slip diff, instead McLaren’s electronic Brake Steer system ensures optimum traction.
The steering is faster reacting than the 650S and the brakes promise to be simply awesome: carbon-ceramic discs 390mm up front and 380mm at the rear are clamped by six-piston callipers with impressive results, stopping 6m shorter than a 650S from 124mph.