McLaren 720S

The first time I saw the 720S I was like…………….. WOW!!! That’s an exotic car!! The look was so sleek. It did not have a big wing on the back or big side scoops or intakes on the hood…………….though they were all there, just hidden in the design. The wheels were literally at the corners of the car giving it a great stance and an invitation to drive it like a go cart……….. it just had that look. This car definitely needs to be part of my Exotic car reviews.

I saw one for the first time while driving on the freeway as it passed by (I was not in my Z06, so no need to try to keep up with it), it was just stunning. Then I got to see one at my local Chevron gas station. It was a matte black color with red calibers……….it looked ready to pounce!! This car exudes exotic car or super car status. It truly stands out next to other exotic cars. The 720S is almost as good as the Z06 on the skid pad………… but not quite….. more on that later.

Exotic Car Reviews

The performance of this car is amazing. It is called the 720 because it has 720 PS horsepower. Some European car manufacturers still quote a power output rating called PS, which stands for Pferdestrke, which literally means, ‘horse strength. It’s also known as DIN (Deutsches Institute fr Normung ) hp as measured in Europe, as opposed to SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) bhp as measured in the United States. Based on the Unites States measurement it only makes 710 horsepower……….. either way it is just fast. As one article I read said when approaching a corner, slow down early, you are going faster than you think!!

A Little History

The McLaren 720S sports car was designed and manufactured by British automobile manufacturer McLaren Automotive. It is the second all-new car in the McLaren Super Series, replacing the 650S beginning in May 2017.

The 720S was launched at the Geneva Motor Show on 7 March 2017 and is built on a modified carbon monocoque, which is lighter and stiffer in contrast to the 650S. The 720S is the first all new car to be introduced by McLaren as a part of its plan to launch 15 new cars to the market by 2022. The 720S according to McLaren is 91% new as compared to its predecessor.

MP4-12C

McLaren launched its current three-tier product structure in 2015, dividing their range of cars into the Sports, Super, and Ultimate Series. Cars in the Sports and Super Series are given names based on the car’s power output in PS, followed by a model designation (C for club, S for sport, GT for grand tourer and LT for longtail). The entry-level Sports Series consists of the 570S, 570S Spider, 570GT, 540C, 600LT and 600LT Spider. The Super Series, considered to be McLaren’s core model range, originally included the 650S, 625C, and 675LT. These were replaced with the 720S in 2017 (and 720S Spider in 2018). The high-end Ultimate Series was led by the P1 and P1 GTR, now it includes the Senna, Senna GTR and the upcoming Speedtail, intended to be the successor to the original F1. The F1 and 12C were retroactively included in the Ultimate and Super Series, respectively.

McLaren’s first purpose-built road car was the F1. McLaren Cars went into hibernation following the completion of the F1’s production run, and McLaren didn’t return to the production car market until launching McLaren Automotive in 2010, just prior to the release of the MP4-12C (eventually simplified to just 12C) in 2011.

McLaren F1

McLaren Automotive replaced McLaren Cars in 2010. McLaren Cars was founded in 1985. The company went on to release the McLaren F1 in 1992. Between 1994 and 2010, McLaren Cars was registered as a ‘dormant company’, before the founding of McLaren Automotive in 2010.

McLaren’s Formula One founder Bruce McLaren was born in 1937. McLaren learned about cars and engineering at his parent’s service station and workshop in his hometown, Auckland, New Zealand. By 15, he had entered a local hill climb in an Austin 7 Ulster; winning his first race in the car. In 1958, McLaren arrived in the United Kingdom with the ‘Driver to Europe’ scheme, intended to help Australian and New Zealand racers to compete in Europe. His mentor, Jack Brabham introduced him to Cooper Cars, a small team based in Surbiton, Surrey. Starting his Formula One career in 1958, McLaren joined the Formula One team a year later. That same year, he won the US Grand Prix at age 22, making him the youngest Grand Prix winner to that date. He stayed with Cooper for a full seven years, winning three more Grands Prix and other races, driving for Jaguar and Aston Martin, & winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 with Ford. He was one of 3 Ford GT 40s that finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd at the 24 hours of Le Mans. If you have not seen the move “Ford vs Ferrari”……. you need too!!

1966 Ford GT 40

McLaren founded Bruce McLaren Motor Racing in 1963. A year later, the company built the first McLaren race car – the M1A; 24 were produced. Its successor, the M1B, allowed McLaren into the Can-Am championship and emerged as the dominant driver with 43 victories, almost three times more than rival Porsche. In 1965, the first McLaren Formula One car, the M2B, debuted at the Monaco Grand Prix.

After his victories and time in the F3, McLaren was designing and testing a prototype M6GT-registered OBH 500H, a light sports car with an estimated top speed of 165 mph and zero to 100 mph time of eight seconds. However, McLaren died in a car accident in 1970 before the prototype could be completed.

Some Specs

The 720S features McLaren’s new M840T engine which is an evolution of the M838T used in the 650S. It is a 3,994 cc (4.0 L; 243.7 cu in) twin-turbocharged V8 engine. However, the stroke has been lengthened by 3.6 mm to increase the capacity and 41% of the engine’s components are new. The engine uses new twin-scroll turbochargers which have a low inertia titanium-aluminum turbines which spin with maximum efficiency with the help of actively controlled waste gates. The engine has a rated power output of 720 PS (710 hp) at 7,000 rpm, giving the car its name; the maximum torque is 568 lb⋅ft at 5,500 rpm.

McLaren 720S

The ProActive Chassis Control II active suspension system used in the 720S is an evolution of the system used in the 650S but is 35 lb lighter than the previous version. The new system features accelerometers on the top and pressure sensors at the bottom of the dampers in order to precisely communicate to the car’s on board computer the driving conditions in real time in order for optimum suspension settings. The system uses findings from a PhD course at the University of Cambridge.

The 720S is one of three production cars to ever average higher than 1.0 g around our figure-eight course, the other two being the Corvette Z06 Z07 (1.06 g) and the Porsche 918 Spyder (1.06 g). The 720S averaged 1.05 g, the second-best of all time. The McLaren’s max lateral acceleration is 1.09 g, among the best-gripping cars we’ve ever tested. Its figure-eight time of 22.3 seconds places it in a four-way tie for second place, along with the aforementioned Z06 and Viper ACR plus the Corvette Grand Sport. Best ever? That freak, the 918 Spyder, which managed a 22.2-second lap. Are we impressed with the McLaren 720S yet? (This paragraph was from Motor Trend magazine, 01/31/2018) See what I mean about being almost as good as the Z06…………….ha!!

McLaren Monocage II

The carbon fiber tub used in the 720S’ chassis is based on the similar principle of the MonoCage unit in the P1 but is 40 lb lighter than its predecessor. Called the MonoCage II, the tub allows for dihedral doors (also known as butterfly doors) which move up and out via hinges along the A-pillar with large cutouts for easier entry and exit. It also reduces the size of the pillars of the roof, improving visibility for the driver. The same tub underpins the McLaren Senna and the Speedtail sports cars. This allows the car to be lighter than most of its competitors. The 720S is light, at just 3,167 pounds, compared to the 661-hp Ferrari 488 GTB at 3,412 pounds and The Lamborghini Huracan at 3,419 pounds. Remember that raw power is one thing, but power to weight is everything else. This McLaren FAST!!

Dihedral Doors

The headlights hide air vents that funnel incoming air to two small radiators in front of the wheels. The doors feature air channels that direct air to the engine. The rear of the car features thin LED tail-lights similar to those on the McLaren P1, and two round exhaust pipes. The design was inspired by the great white shark, and features a teardrop-shaped cockpit. All the exterior features result in an improvement of 50% more downforce than the 650S. The interior of the car includes a folding driver display and carbon fiber accents. Checkout this cool video (approx. 3 minutes) from the McLaren website on the design here.

Comfort and Practicality

The McLaren 720S does hit all the exotic car criteria. It is expensive at around $300,000, it is rare with about 1500 cars per year and of course it is crazy high performance!! On the practicality side of things it does have 5.3 cubic feet of cargo space……. enough for maybe one carry on size luggage and a couple of other things, with the convertible you gain another 2.05 cubic feet…………whooohooo!! This of course would not be a problem for those who can afford this car, just stay at nice hotels that have laundry service.

McLaren 720S Spyder

Conclusion

Would this be a great car for a road trip, not sure but I would sure like to find out!! This car might be better on the race track than on a road trip. If you go back to that article I mentioned above from Motor Trend, where the 720S was almost as good as the Z06 on the skid pad, well the 720S was almost 4 seconds faster than the Z06 around Willow Springs raceway. Everwhere I read about the 720S, the most common referecne is this car is FAST!! It has incredible grip and amazing power, what more do we need in our exotic super car………………………just need to figure out what color I want…… that matte black color is pretty sick!!

Please leave comments below

Wes

Exotic Cars and Road Trips, Enjoy the Road

C8 Corvette

I saw one……………….. a saw a new C8 Corvette for myself. The mid engine corvette might be the most rumored car over the last 60 years………. that’s how long a mid engine Corvette has been talked about. The official unveiling of C8 was in July 2019, with actual new car deliveries planned for later in the year. We then had the GM strike in the fall which has had an effect on production. Deliveries actually started showing up at dealerships this month (April 2020). They are all sold!! Dealerships are only taking orders for 2021 models.

C8 Side View

Will the exotic car world ever be the same? Should I include this on mt exotic car reviews? I have said before that an exotic car is expensive, rare, has high performance and is impractical. How does the new C8 match up here? It is not expensive from an exotic car stand point. The base price is $59,950, while the average cost of most C8’s will be around $80,000. A comparable Ferrari, Lamborghini or McClaren will run you close to $300,000. A C8 is not that rare. The production for the C8 for 2020 was to be around 40,000 (the GM strike will reduce that number). Ferrari will produce between 8,000 to 10,000 cars per year with the mid engine Ferrari 488 accounting for about half of that production at approx 4,000 t0 5,000. They will make around 3,000 of the Lamborghini Huracan. The C8 is not impracticable, it has two trunks and is comfortable for a long distance road trip. The one thing the C8 corvette retains from the exotic car world is performance, with a 0-60 time in 2.8 seconds it can preform with any of them.

C8 Engine

It will be interesting to see over the next couple of years if the C8 will change the exotic car world forever…………. how valuable will the rarity of a Ferrari be when the C8 Corvette out preforms it……………………

A Little History

There is a lot of history…………….more than I will cover here. Zora Arkus-Duntov was an engineer who joined General Motors in 1953 after seeing the “Motorama” Corvette on display in New York City. He found the car visually superb, but was disappointed with what was underneath. Many consider Arkus-Duntov the father of the Corvette, though he did not create the car. After seeing the car at the Motorama he reached out to General Motors with a plan to improve the car. After being hired he quickly became the Head of Performance for Corvette. It was 1957 when Arkus-Duntov suggested for the first time the idea of a mid engine corvette.

CERV II

Arkus-Duntov set about transforming the Corvette from an under powered showboat to a performance car that could compete with the best from Europe. In 1955, the anemic 150-hp six-cylinder was replaced by the 265-cubic-inch V-8, the original version of the legendary small-block. In 1957, its displacement was increased to 283 cubic inches, and GM’s first application of mechanical fuel injection helped it attain the magic number of 1 hp per cubic inch of displacement.

Despite these improvements, Arkus-Duntov was aware of the limitations by the Corvette’s front-engine, rear-wheel-drive setup. In 1960, he introduced the CERV (Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle), a test vehicle with a mid-engine V-8, rear-wheel drive, and an open-wheel body. CERV I evolved into CERV II in 1964, again with a mid-engine V-8 and all-wheel drive, separate automatic transmissions and torque converters for each end of the engine, and enclosed-wheel bodywork. Arkus-Duntov tested the CERV II at GM’s Milford Proving Ground and recorded a zero-to-60-mph time of 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 214.01 mph………those numbers are amazingly close to the new C8. In the end, GM said no to the idea.

C8 Corvette

Taking no to for an answer was never Arkus-Duntov’s strong suit. This time he took the front-wheel-drive setup from the Oldsmobile Toronado/Cadillac Eldorado, placed it amidships, and located the V-8 engine transversely, with the automatic transmission on one side and the differential on the other. All-wheel drive could be made possible in the future by adding a front differential and a driveshaft. The car, under code name XP-882, debuted at the 1970 New York auto show; in the hurry to prepare the car for the show, there wasn’t time to come up with a name, so it was simply labeled “Corvette prototype.” Despite the sensation it created, GM once again shot down the idea, deciding the car would be too expensive to produce and would not offer any gains in performance versus the front-engined Corvette.

In all there have been no fewer than 9 mid engine prototype corvettes created over the years. Though they all led to some type of mechanical improvement for the Corvette such as the rear independent suspension on the CERV II which made it to production on the C2 Corvette, the mid engine Corvette was something Arkus-Duntov never witnessed.

CERV III

Arkus-Duntov retired in 1975. Following his retirement Arkus-Duntov remained active in the Corvette community. He passed away in Detroit on April 21, 1996, and his ashes were entombed at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Pulitzer Prize winning columnist George Will wrote in his obituary that “if… you do not mourn his passing, you are not a good American”.

Despite Duntov’s work on the CERV I and CERV II and many mid-engine design studies, the idea of a mid-engine Corvette was not approved by GM management until 2019, (it was, of course approved before 2019 but GM never acknowledged it until they unveiled it 2019,) with the announcement of the release of the eighth generation C8 Corvette.

Some Specs

The Chevrolet Corvette (C8) is the eighth generation of the Corvette. It is the first mid-engine Corvette since the model’s introduction in 1953. The C8 was announced in April 2019, and the coupe made its official debut on July 18, 2019, during a media event at the Kennedy Space Center (referencing its association with NASA) to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The convertible made its debut in October 2019, alongside the racing version, the C8.R. Production officially began on February 3, 2020, delayed by the 2019, General Motors strike.

C8 Convertible

The C8 retains some design elements found on the C7, but the majority of the exterior has been completely overhauled. The engine’s new location mandated a stronger focus on aerodynamics and cooling; large side scoops house air intakes, and the rear features smaller vents below the taillights. As a result of the switch to a mid-engine layout, the passenger compartment has been shifted forward by 16.5 inches. The cockpit has been designed to be driver-centric, with numerous controls mounted on the center console as well as utilizing a new hexagonal steering wheel. A special Z button (a homage to the Z06, ZR1, Z51 and of course Zora Arkus-Duntov ) is also mounted on the steering wheel; this can quickly activate customized performance settings. Models equipped with the available magnetorheological dampers will also offer adjustable suspension settings.

C8 Interior

The C8 uses a new version of the LS based GM small-block engine derived from the C7 Stingray’s LT1, now called the LT2. The new naturally aspirated V8 is rated at 490 hp at 6,450 rpm and 465 lb⋅ft of torque at 5,150 rpm, an improvement of 40 hp and 10 lb⋅ft over the outgoing C7 Corvette Stingray. The engine uses dry sump lubrication system.

The optional Z51 performance package adds a sport exhaust system to the Stingray, bringing the total power output to 495 hp and torque to 470 lb⋅ft. Car and Driver recorded a 0 – 60 time of 2.8 seconds.

The Stingray is only offered with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission made by Tremec, with no manual transmission option available. The only other model not offered with a manual transmission was the 1953–1955 C1 model. However, the C8 Corvette Stingray does allow for semi-automatic shifting with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The new dual-clutch transmission has received amazing reviews and has been compared to the PDK automatic transmission for Porsche which is considered the industry standard.

C8 Transmission

The base model of the Stingray comes with unequal length double wishbone suspension at the front and rear axles made from forged aluminum. Monotube shock absorbers are standard at all four wheels. The car can be equipped with a front-axle lifting height adjustable suspension system that can add 2 in of ground clearance at speeds under 25 mph. The Z51 package adds a performance-tuned adjustable suspension setup with threaded spring seats for further setup customization, as well as an electronic limited-slip differential. Additionally, the top-of-the-line FE4 trim level includes the fourth generation of GM’s magnetic ride adaptive suspension system.

Comfort and Praticality

This is another area that the C8 breaks from tradition of being a mid engine exotic with no place for luggage if you would like a long road trip. The C8 has approx 12.6 cubic feet of trunk space. It has a “frunk” (a trunk up front) and a trunk in the back behind the engine. The trunk in back is large enough for two golf bags and the front can accept the equivalent of two “carry on” luggage pieces………… that’s incredible for an “exotic” car. My C7 Z06 has approx 15.0 cubic feet of storage.

C8 Trunk

 

There is a small sacrifice with the coupe and its removable top. The top when removed is stowed in the back luggage area……… no room for golf clubs now. Miss Linda and I love to travel with the top off, with the C8 you might be forced to travel with the top on, only removing it when you get to your destination.

C8 Frunk

The C8 Spyder (convertible) might actually be a better choice here for road trip. In the Spyder, the mechanically operated hard top is stowed on top of the engine. The beauty of this is that the rear trunk is still available for luggage or those two golf bags. Some might be disappointed as the spyder does not allow you to see the engine under the glass like the coupe, though I think I would prefer the ability to travel with the top open while still having room for luggage for a longer road trip.

Conclusion

I will say it again, as I do believe this new mid engine C8 Corvette is going to change the exotic car world a bit. Here is a true high performance mid engine sports car that is comfortable, quiet (when you want it to be), has plenty of luggage space for a long and enjoyable road trip, while being able to enjoy the road with the top down. All this for about a 3rd of the price of most of its competition.

Am I ready to go out a buy one……………… not quite, I still love my C7 Z06 with a manual transmission. I definitely want to drive one, the same as I want to drive all the cars that I put on this list. As I sit here writing this I can honestly say that there is not a car out there that I would want in place of my Z06. That being said, I would absolutely love to have every car on this list in addition to my Z06.

C8

My mind might be changed when the upcoming models for the C8 are available. They are talking of course about the C8 Z06, ZR1 or even rumors of a model referred to as the Zora. The Z06 is to have a new engine similar to the one in the C8.R race car. This is a new naturally aspirated 5.5 liter dual overhead cam V8 engine with a flat plane crank. The speculation is that it will put out something similar to the C7 Z06’s 650 HP and rev to a 9000 RPM scream!! An upcoming ZR1 or Zora model is likely to be a hybrid pushing close to a 1,000 HP…………………… sounds like fun!!

Please let me know your thoughts and leave comments below.

Wes

Exotic Cars and Road Trips…………. Enjoy the Road!!