McLaren has ditched some of the curves and gone with a more aerodynamic package
McLaren has ditched some of the curves and gone with a more aerodynamic package

British sports car maker McLaren has officially sped into unchartered territory with its stunning 720S super car. The 568kW, 4.0l twin-turbo monster is lighter, faster and stiffer than the 650S it replaces. It marks McLaren’s first second-generation car.

The second-generation carbon fibre tub is backed up by an intelligent car-wide computer system set up to maximise handling and speed. The engine has had an overhaul and even the tyres are custom made.

McLaren insists it just tried to deliver the car with the broadest possible performance range it has yet made.

The company has said 91% of the 720S parts are all new.

The car, which has been regularly leaked in the lead up to its Geneva debut, looks far better in the flesh than in snippets seen on the internet.

The 720S should be easier to get in and out of than the 650S
The 720S should be easier to get in and out of than the 650S

We saw the car in England more than a month ago and can reveal it takes a full four seconds less to get to 300km/h than the 650S and a quarter-mile sprint takes just 10.3sec.

Gone are the clunky side air intakes, replaced with side air blades that direct air the engine needs into tiny air intakes ahead of the rear wheels.

There is more than a touch of Ferrari’s superseded 458 Italia about the fuselage of the 720S, with its sculpted, folded flanks, though it breaks new ground beyond the wheelbase. The thin headlights double as air intakes for the engine cooling radiators, while the tops of the doors are adorned with the huge chunks cut out of the car’s roof.

Less pushing

The company rightly claims the car is all about lightness, strength, speed and art, with the 720S weighing just 1,290kg dry.

That, and a slippery shape that is twice as aerodynamically efficient as its predecessor, leaves the M840T twin-turbo V8 with a lot less pushing to do than before.

It only slips past 100km/h 0.1sec quicker than its predecessor, in 2.9sec, but then the slippery aero and the extra grunt start kicking in.

The company claims it will run from 0-200km/h in 7.8sec (0.6sec quicker than before and 0.5sec quicker than the Ferrari 488 GTB) and from 0-300km/h in 21.4sec. The V8 is largely new and 195cc bigger than before. The capacity moves to 3,994cc, thanks to adding 3.6mm to the stroke, so McLaren is calling it a 4.0l.

The interior has been extensively redone including a new multimedia screen that allows you to swipe the size of your drift
The interior has been extensively redone including a new multimedia screen that allows you to swipe the size of your drift

"The new 4.0l, twin-turbocharged M840T V8 engine marks a revolutionary step forwards for McLaren with lighter internal components and new twin-scroll turbochargers contributing to huge increases in power, response and efficiency," McLaren’s Super Series vehicle line director, Haydn Baker, said.

Even though the M840T’s power peak arrives at 7,500r/min, the powerhouse keeps revving to 8,100r/min before it hits the limiter in first gear, then 8,200r/min in each of the next six gears in the dual-clutch transmission.

The turbochargers are a big step forward, moving to twin-scroll architecture and capable of spinning up to 160,000r/min. Lightweight and low in inertia, they help the 720S to deliver 770Nm of torque from 5,500r/min to 6,500r/min, giving it a fat, strong mid range.

Astonishingly, McLaren has eschewed direct fuel injection for old-school indirect port fuel injection. It has doubled the number of injectors from eight to 16, two per cylinder.

McLaren says the 720S rides more comfortably than the 650S and it is as good on a track as the most track-focused of its track-pack cars. It is putting this all down to a combination of increased stiffness from its carbon fibre tub and slipperier aerodynamics.

Not only is there more carbon in the tub than before, but it now includes thin A-pillars to improve visibility. Lowering the top of the engine (the tail of the car is down 145mm, too) helped pull the centre of gravity down by 3%. The engine and suspension systems all sit in aluminium subframes attached directly to the tub, while the new wishbones and uprights lower the car’s unsprung mass by 16kg.

It still uses an open differential (almost laughable in theory), it still runs a conventional hydraulic power steering system and it still eschews anti-roll bars in favour of diagonally linked dampers. There are 12 handling-exclusive sensors dotted around the car, including an accelerometer at each corner, which it hooks together to form Proactive Chassis Control II.

Variable damping

The idea is that its drivers can have comfort, sport and track modes at their disposal, with constantly variable damping to suit whatever the car is doing and what road it is doing it on.

The new governing algorithms take two milliseconds to receive, process and respond to new information, then punch its decisions back around the car.

The brake steer system brakes the inside wheels to stop understeer. It also governs the variable drift mode, which uses a slide to catch a slide.

No, the engine is not hot, there really are red LEDs in the engine bay to light it up
No, the engine is not hot, there really are red LEDs in the engine bay to light it up

If the car’s in Sport or Track mode with the skid-control on Dynamic, it can move to a drift mode. Because the selected slip angle for the drift comes up on a bar on the multimedia screen in the central display, you can just swipe it one way for a wilder drift or back the other for a more modest slide.

The full telemetry system can record the throttle angle, the lateral and longitudinal G readings as well as sector times, lap times and speed.

The most obvious addition to the aero package is the headlights, which look like weird eye sockets. They have the thin indicator light flanked above and below by air intakes to get clean air in, early. It also has complex side aerodynamics to flow the air into the tiny air intakes ahead of the rear wheels.

McLaren insists the overall cooling efficiency is up 15%.

The full-width rear wing delivers 30% more downforce than the 650S’s wing, doubles as an air brake and shifts the centre of aerodynamic pressure forward under braking to enhance its stability.

Those doors, which look inspired by the Ford GT40, answer one of the key criticisms of the 650S. It was too hard for some people to get into. They cut deep into the roof.

The folding instrument cluster folds into its flatter TFT screen whenever the car is unlocked.

So when the new 720S arrives in SA, you can expect it to be as clever as it is stunning.

This article was originally published by Business Live.
You can view the original article here.

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