As a professional car reviewer, every once in a while I get a really special car, a supercar as a matter of fact. Such is the case with the 2021 McLaren 720S Spider I spent three days with week. I’ve been blessed to have had some amazing cars for review, but this is the chart topper.
Performance and Handling
Let’s talk about what sits in the middle of the car, just behind the driver. It is a 4.0-liter V8 with twin-turbos, putting out a whopping 710-horses and 568-pound feet of torque. This beast will take you from a dead stop to 60- miles per hour in 2.8 seconds according to McLaren, but it will actually do a little better, trust me. If you keep accelerating, the rear-wheel drive 720S Spider will take you up to 212-miles per hour, which I cannot verify.
Adding to the performance is a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The shifting up or down is quick and decisive. In fact, the transmission shifts quicker than you can hit the shift paddles on the steering wheel, but I like the feel of control shifting it myself. Either way, it’s a rush.
On the dash to the left of the infotainment screen, you have a knob for three modes that control the handling, and on a separate knob just below, there are three modes for the power train. You can mix and match both controls and choose normal, sport, or track, and you can essentially have three different cars when you push the active button. For me, I like both set in sport mode when driving in town, but sport on the handling and track on the power train when driving on the open highway. After you play with the controls for a while, the default normal setting in both modes is just a little too tame to waste all the different modes and all those horses.
There is one other mode, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t try it. From the screen, you can choose Variable Drift Control to do some impressive power slides. Had this been my own car I would have played with, but who wants to be the guy who wrecks a $360,000 car?
The 720S weighs in at just 3200 pounds, about the weight of most compact cars. This is pretty amazing considering the weight of the big V8 engine. Much of the reason for the lack of weight is the 720S has a carbon fiber body, integrated into the chassis. All the outer panels channel air through the car for aerodynamics and for downward force on the rear end. When you start looking at all the air channels on this car, it is pretty amazing.
Outwardly, this is just a beautiful car with 19” front wheels and 20” rear wheels. Total cargo space comes in at 7.2 cubic feet, which is divided between the front trunk and a rear storage area under the convertible cover. Space in the front measures 5.2 cubic feet and offers enough space for a couple of travel bags. Storage in the back is typically taken by the convertible top and only offers two cubic feet of space.
The 720S absolutely stops traffic when you open the twin-hinged dihedral doors that open forward, then upward. They are also soft close, which means you barely latch them and they’ll close themselves. The doors are incredibly lightweight and easy to open and close. The doors also aid with ingress and egress of the low-to-the-ground car. You’ll learn quickly the best way for you to get in and out of the car, but the first few times you do it, make sure nobody is looking, it’s a little awkward.
Moving to the inside of this car, it hits you immediately that not only is the car fast, it is also luxurious. The sumptuous Nappa leather and Alcantara seats hug you snugly in those tight corners.
On the center console, you’ll find the engine start button, and the awesome launch control button. There are three large switches to shift the transmission from drive, to neutral, to reverse. When you hit the ignition button to turn the car off, it puts the car in park. For some reason it has the start/stop system, but it can be disabled.
To the left of the steering wheel are buttons to open the front cargo area, lock the doors, and something really cool, a button that flips the gauge cluster over to give you just the basic info you need if you are on a racetrack. It enhances your vision ahead and helps you focus on just the info you need.
Center dash you’ll find the vertically mounted infotainment screen that operates the sound system, navigation, Track Telemetry (real-time race track data), Variable Drift Control, your garage door opener, rearview camera settings, and an electronic owner’s manual.
As you would expect, this car comes very nicely equipped with everything you could ask for. My tester has $45,000 in options, primarily the sport exhaust, the park assist, the full carbon fiber body, the power heated seats, 10-spoke wheels, 12-speaker audio, and the electrochromic roof, which is a marvel.
The electrochromic roof changes from clear to shaded with the push of a button, but no electric cover, however, electricity is involved. Two electrodes settle on either side and electrical contact layers attach to either side of the electrodes. The lithium ions migrate via the separator from one layer to another. When the ions are bunched together in the outermost layer, they reflect light and make the glass dark. To make the glass clear again, the system just reverses the electric charge.
The glass roof that makes it a convertible is simple and folds back above the engine out of sight. The process only takes 11 seconds and you can do it at speeds up to 31-miles per hour. There is a rear glass that can be raised or lowered. It is a very slick system for those times you want the open-air feeling.
What You'll Pay
MSRP on this one as equipped is $359,820. Fuel economy is 15 in the city and 22 on the highway if you behave yourself, but you won’t.
In summary, this car has unbelievable power and handling, and with many sports cars, you have to choose, but not with the 720S. It is great no matter the road surface, and it would be an amazing car on a track. The exhaust sound is incredible, and it is an wonderful combination of everything you could want in a cruiser that goes over 200 miles per hour.
One big surprise was the visibility of this car. Typically cars like this have a lot of blind spots, especially changing lanes to the right, but the 720S design makes seeing your surroundings very easy.
One thing I will warn you about…watch out for people trying to take your picture while you’re driving down the freeway, not paying any attention to where they are going. These amateur photographers also tend to drift toward you when driving.
- What I Liked Most: Exterior looks, performance, and handling.
- What I would change: Visibility is good, but would still love blind spot warning.
- Fuel Economy: 15 city/22 highway/18 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 1,100 miles.
- Official Color: Silica White
- Weight: 3,210 pounds.
- Spare Tire: N/A.
- Length-Width-Height: 179” long/85” wide/47” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 16 gallons, filler on the passenger side.
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- Official Color: Silica White
- 2021 McLaren 720S Spider in a few words: An exhilarating supercar that will make you the envy of everyone on the road.
- Warranty: 3-year/unlimited milage with roadside assistance.
- Final Assembly Location: Woking, Surrey, UK.
- Manufacturer's website: McLaren
- Next Up: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 4x4.