2018 Mclaren 720S

Motor Trend (USA) - - 2018 Best Driver’s Car - Words Frank Markus

Jonny Lieber­man: Se­nior Fea­tures Edi­tor When the tachome­ter crests 6,000 rpm, the en­gine finds an ex­tra ax-mur­derer gear, re­sult­ing in real, ac­tual ter­ror. Alien tech­nol­ogy for the street.”

It’s the Sy­bil of su­per­cars. Mclaren’s new 720S man­i­fests dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties de­pend­ing on driver skill and elec­tronic set­tings. Nearly ev­ery judge left most safety set­tings en­gaged for Route 198, and most emerged feel­ing in­vin­ci­ble. Chris Wal­ton: “This Mclaren reads your mind, and you just ‘think’ your way through cor­ners.” Mark Rechtin: “It han­dles as though it has its own vo­li­tion or sen­tience—but com­pletely pre­dictably.” Jethro Bov­ing­don: “It rides with a flu­ency that the Lambo and GT2 RS can only dream of, with a bal­ance that ebbs and flows so nat­u­rally.” The car is as­ton­ish­ingly re­spon­sive, the steer­ing is fin­ger­tip-light and com­mu­nica­tive, and driv­ers with an ounce of skill will never de­tect elec­tronic in­ter­ven­tion on a dry road and will emerge con­vinced they’ve just de­fied physics. All good!

Then our race driver with a cham­pi­onship pedi­gree climbed in and turned off most of the nan­nies—and set a BDC lap record. Yet Randy Pobst climbed out of the Mclaren sweaty and com­plain­ing about what a sloppy lap it was and how dif­fi­cult the car was to con­trol: “I was busy! It’s two dif­fer­ent cars. Off throt­tle, it over­steers a lot. On throt­tle, it un­der­steers a lot.” This sug­gests that elec­tron­ics may be com­pen­sat­ing for some es­sen­tial han­dling de­fi­cien­cies. Pobst man­aged to fade the brakes a bit, but only be­cause of the crazy high speeds the car achieves—154.7 mph on the front straight of his first hot lap, torch­ing the Porsche’s top speed of 149.0. Pobst is con­vinced that im­prov­ing the car’s in­her­ent bal­ance could earn the 720S a 1:27 lap time. This car be­haved so dif­fer­ently from an ear­lier one he lapped at Wil­low Springs’ big track that we also won­der if some­thing was amiss.

As for the long drives to the track, many ed­i­tors were un­com­fort­able in the op­tional fixed car­bon-fiber rac­ing-shell seats, which are tricky to get into and out of. And the Mclaren’s overly elec­tronic na­ture left a few ed­i­tors, such as Scott Evans, cold: “I’m su­per im­pressed with it, but I’m not crazy-stupid in love with it.” Hence the bronze-medal fin­ish.

NO THUMBS The Mclaren’s steer­ing wheel sports a de rigueur flat bot­tom but lacks the thumb rests present on ev­ery other con­tender and most sporty cars. It steers as­ton­ish­ingly well any­way.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.