British engineering excellence

McLaren 720S Spider Performance

Model on test: £314,710

Thought it was best to get that price tag in right from the start. There’s no getting away from it, this car costs more than a decent sized house, which is a lot for a car…

But this is no ordinary car. McLaren have been producing fast cars for quite some time now, and have not been too shabby in the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula One. So it should come as no surprise that they can build a good-looking, fast car. But then track dominance doesn’t always translate to road performance.

But this is the McLaren Super Series – the first car in the range they actually class as a Supercar. And they claim it can be used everyday. So I did just that; I used it as my daily drive for a week – and for added realism, this was when Gloucestershire flooded, so a true everyday test in wet conditions!

I’ve driven a few McLarens now – I know, I’m lucky – but this was a step up even for me. More than 700 horsepower, with active aero components and light despite the electronic convertible roof. You can imagine, I was understandably excited the day it was due to arrive.

As I say, I’ve driven these awesome machines before but even knowing what they sound like, the first time you press that stater and hear the twin turbo V8 roar to life (and roar it does) behind you, it really does tingle your spine and instantly puts a smile on your face. Practicality is out of the window – that’s a given. Two bucket seats and a very small front luggage compartment don’t make for a family machine.

But it’s not a family car – it doesn’t pretend to be. From the beautiful dihedral doors (a McLaren signature) instantly tell you that everything you are about to experience is slightly different. The dash is a thing of beauty and even has a fantastic folding mechanism to convert from a standard dash to a racing style low profile unit.

The incredible sense of power you get from sitting behind the wheel of a McLaren is subtly different from that which you get from the Audi R8 that I recently reviewed in this magazine. The Audi has your back. The McLaren does not and will punish you for mistakes. I had one moment that proved beyond doubt who the master was (and it wasn’t me). On a damp road, coming away from a roundabout I accelerated – not too heavily, I should point out – but at low speed, the aero elements hadn’t deployed so downforce was low and the back end started to fishtail. Thankfully I caught it, but it did make me respect it just that little bit more. 

Treat it well and it was planted and stable, but the slightest indiscretion would give it the chance to remind me who the boss was. And it was not me.

All things considered, and with the right level of respect, it was simply incredible. It goes as fast as it looks, sounds like it looks and feels more comfortable than anything with such low profile tyres and a low ground clearance has a right to.

I loved it, pretty much everyone else loved it, and my previous experience of appreciative looks when behind the wheel was again repeated.

But don’t forget who the boss is.

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