Weekend Wheels: Want fireworks? Here's the McLaren 720S Spider
No Fourth of July fireworks for you this year? No worries, I have fireworks for you. Lots of fireworks. Pyrotechnics in the shape of this rolling 710-horsepower bottle rocket with more bang than a truckload of firecrackers.
Light the touch paper on this incandescent 2020 McLaren 720S Spider I’ve been scaring myself silly with this week, and the explosive acceleration will definitely have you seeing starbursts.
This thing isn’t fast, it’s an F-18-on-after-burner fast. Fast as in a streak-of-Florida-heat-lightning-across-the-horizon fast. Faster than Usain Bolt out of the blocks.
And to sit behind the wheel as this molten yellow Howitzer fires off the line is a cardiac arrest waiting to happen. Fingers tingle. Eyes wince. Lungs collapse. Belly-button outies turn into innies. Your mind simply gets blown.
It’s what happens when you strap a race-bred 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, packing the aforementioned 710-hp and 568 lb-ft of gym-honed muscle, into a carbon fiber body weighing not much more than a Tupperware container.
Yes, you can go for the full face-melting histrionics with an all-hell-breaks-loose standing-start acceleration run. This involves standing on the brake pedal with your left foot, standing on the accelerator with your right. And simply stepping off the brake.
Nothing, and I repeat for effect, nothing prepares you for the gut-wrenching detonation of forward motion. McLaren claims standstill to 60mph acceleration in an insane 2.8 seconds. Top speed? That would be a pants-on-fire 212mph.
But I’d argue the best fireworks display is when you’re ambling along at say 50 or 60mph, the gap in the traffic opens up, you pull back twice, three times on the paddle shifter, and floor it.
This is the moment when the USS Enterprise goes into hyperdrive, vision blurs, stars streak, and suddenly you’re entering Romulan air space.
Whereas the 720S Coupe feels brain-cell-destroyingly fast, the hurricane blast of air rushing over the open top of our 720S Spider convertible only multiplies the sensation of otherworldly speed.
And as a piece of mechanical art, the McLaren’s folding roof is up there with anything Leonardo created. At the mere toggle of a switch, the top unlatches, the rear deck opens and the panel descends in a speedy 11 seconds. And you can drop the top even when you’re rolling along at up to 31mph.
The folks at McLaren are so proud of this levitating lid that they’ve applied for three patents on it.
I’m sure one of those patents-pending is for the optional — though absolutely must-have — electrochromic roof. It’s a glass panel that at the press of a button darkens, reducing light by 90 per cent. Perfect to temper the Florida midday sun.
But what really sets the 720S Spider apart from its few rivals is not just its heart-pounding speed, but its usability. Hard to comprehend, but the 720S is a doddle to drive.
Slump down inside and the seats are super-comfy, legroom and headroom generous, and the best part, all-round visibility is terrific. I’ve been in supercars where I’ve had to hang out of an open door to reverse to a parking space. Not so in the 720S.
Around town, the McLaren just ambles along, the big, torquey V8 happy to roll at 30mph in sixth gear without a complaint. And for a highly strung supercar, the ride is sublime; lumpy asphalt, even potholes, just get hoovered up.
Couple this with light, super-responsive steering, brakes that could stop time, and a seven-speed dual clutch automatic that shifts gear with the speed of flicking a light switch, and the 720S Spider rightly ranks as one of the world’s greatest supercars.
Of course, all this excitement comes at a cost. A base 720S Spider will set you back an Amex Centurion-melting $315,000.
But that’s only the start. The Volcano Yellow paintwork adds another $5,270, that fancy roof is $9,100, the sports exhaust $5,940, while all that black carbon fiber trim adds another $12,130. The car you see here would set you back $386,930.
As for having your own personal Fourth of July fireworks show any time of the year? Priceless.
McLaren Tampa Bay on Gandy in Pinellas Park might let you test drive a 720S Spider. Or at least sit inside.