McLaren 720S Spider: A Week With The Everyday Supercar, In Traffic And On The Autobahn (Photos and Video)
by Martin Green
As I piloted the McLaren 720S Spyder the first few meters through the busy streets of Munich, I was instantly surprised.
Not about its powerful engine, which puts out an impressive 710 bhp, or the retractable hardtop, which exposed me to the beautiful weather and great-sounding engine notes in just 11 seconds, but more the ease with which this car drives at low speeds.
Some other supercars – and that is the rightful title to bestow upon the 720S Spider, the most potent McLaren apart from limited edition creations such as the Senna – tend to get nervous at lower speeds, clearly highlighting that they are not optimized for slow traffic.
But the 720S Spider doesn’t seem to mind at all.
From traffic light to traffic light the throttle was very easy to dose, allowing me to drive to the next in a smooth and controlled motion.
If I had wanted to, I could have taken off and flown at very illegal speeds, but I didn’t have to. To compare, the 720S Spider works its way through city traffic with the ease of, say, a large Audi. That’s quite the compliment because cities are not usually the arenas in which these types of cars excel.
It is not only the throttle and steering that makes it a breeze to drive at lower speeds, but also the fact that you have an excellent view of everything going on around you. The use of the rear-view mirror is restricted slightly by the design of the car’s rear, but the side mirrors compensate for this.
Glorious German autobahn
Fortunately, Munich was not the final destination of this trip – that was Dresden. And the route between these two historical cities led through some of the most breathtaking parts of the autobahn. Breathtaking in terms of the surrounding natural beauty, from dense forests to the meadows of the countryside, all bathing in sunlight as golden as the color of the McLaren.
Editor-in-chief Elizabeth Doerr and I profited from low traffic on this German autobahn and were able to experience another side of the McLaren.
While we could drive comfortably through city traffic, these long stretches of asphalt showed us an entirely different side of the car.
With staggering acceleration, its speedometer struggled to keep up with the exact speed. While the average speed on the autobahn was high at this time due to the favorable conditions, we passed other cars like they were standing still.
Like a golden bullet, we moved forward, sometimes surprising slower drivers in the left lane having decided to pass a trailer, forcing us to use the brakes.
Many, however, instantly went to the right when they saw us rapidly bearing down in their rear view mirrors. But by the time they had seen us, we had already hit the brakes.
Driving such speeds on the autobahn requires a lot of concentration, but the McLaren oozes confidence. It does precisely what you want and expect it to do. No overly sensitive reactions when you move the steering wheel, hit the brakes, or even a hint of light feeling in the front due to a lack of weight.
The way that it picks up, even at high speeds, is nothing less than impressive. We were therefore not disappointed at all when somebody forced us to slow down because that also meant that we got to hit the throttle again once they moved over.
It is an addictive feeling that accompanied us all the way to beautiful Dresden.
Out of place, or perfectly suited to the historical city center of Dresden?
In the historical city center of Dresden, you might wonder if the 720S Spider is out of place or perfectly suited.
The McLaren 720S Spider is, by all means, a modern creation that stands out among the beautiful old buildings that were rebuilt in such a detailed way after World War II took such a heavy toll on the city.
Yet when parked in front of the Fürstenzug, a large mural depicting a mounted procession of Saxony’s rulers from bygone years, its gold tones seemed to be right on point: a visual bridge between the ages.
While the throngs of tourists buzzing around the city did not come to Dresden to see a British supercar, it didn’t stop them from quickly grabbing their phones and shooting videos and taking pictures.
Here the 720S Spider showed itself as a gracious movie star because everything it does, it does with a great feeling of showmanship; everything becomes a spectacle.
The way that the roof retracts seemed like the 11-second trailer of an action movie, underscored by the timbre of the engine.
Also, the gull-wing doors never fail to impress a crowd, and McLaren has designed them in such a way that even as a driver or a passenger, you don’t look like a fool: getting into the car and closing the door is accomplished in a fluid motion.
Country roads, don’t take me home!
John Denver wanted the country roads to take him home, but when driving from Dresden to nearby Glashütte, the home of high watchmaking in Germany, we purposefully planned on a long detour.
While the 720S Spider may be a glorious autobahn cruiser and a surprisingly agile inner-city knight, it is the narrow, curvy roads where you have the most fun and come to realize what a truly magnificent machine this is.
Here, with the wind in your hair, you notice that the 720S Spider does not seem to suffer at all in terms of stiffness by the lack of a roof. There is not a single squeak or the feeling of a distant motion in the body, just a little over 1,300 kg of car that goes precisely where you want it to go.
It corners like it is on rails, with the roar of the engine resonating as we drove through the Müglitz Valley.
Of course, there is a wide range of safety features to ensure that we got to experience this as 710 bhp of power and 770 Nm of torque is not something that many of us can control in their rawest forms.
However, the McLaren never made us feel like we were not doing it all ourselves. Everything in this supercar is designed and made to make you feel like a superstar.
Parked by the side of a quiet road, it was time to – literally – step back and take it all in. As a ray of sunshine broke through the trees and reflected off the gold carrosserie of the 720S Spider, I realized what a genuinely pleasing creation it is.
It is by no means shy, attracting attention by its looks and sound, but it is also so much more than that. It is a machine in which you can cover long stretches of highway in comfort, maneuver through city streets with ease, yet can be most properly enjoyed on country roads, preferably alone.
There you realize that this is a car made to drive without compromising, designed so well that it does not achieve this by completely ignoring some facts of automotive life, but by embracing them all.
And that makes the McLaren 720S Spider the perfect “everyday” supercar.
For more information please visit www.cars.mclaren.com/en/super-series/720s-spider.
Quick Facts McLaren 720S Spider
Engine: 3,994 cc V8, with two electrically actuated twin scroll turbochargers
Power: 710 bhp @ 7,500 rpm torque: 770 Nm of torque @ 5.500 rpm
Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch transmission
Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds
Top speed: 341 kp/h
Base price: €337,000