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Auto review: How'd they make it street legal?

Charles Fleming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

LOS ANGELES -- McLaren doesn't make a lot of cars -- about 3,300 in 2017 -- or a lot of models. But what it makes is magic.

Starting with the Sports Series, rising through the Super Series, and culminating in the Ultimate Series, the McLaren machines are highly intentional, purpose-built vehicles.

They are designed to do one thing well -- to get around a race track very quickly. The company has its roots in racing, and even today advertises its cars by boasting, "We use Formula 1 technology and expertise to create the most advanced sports cars in the world."

The trouble is, they do that so well that they don't do anything else very well at all.

McLaren's 720S is a marvel of this speed-specific design. Starting with a carbon fiber "monocage" chassis, the engineers at the Woking, England, factory produce a 2,900-pound race car, driven by a 4-liter V-8 engine, that runs like a rocket.

Capable of a top speed of 212 miles per hour, a zero-to-60-mph time of 2.8 seconds and a zero-to-100-mph time of 5.5 seconds, the rear-engine 720S is also equipped with McLaren's proprietary adaptive suspension system and electro-hydraulic rack and pinion steering, and wears Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires.

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So it goes fast in a straight line and then seemingly faster through the turns, making a fast driver feel faster and an amateur feel less inadequate.

This wasn't my first McLaren. I had liked the 570S. I had really liked the 570GT.

But this was by far the fastest and most powerful English sports car I'd ever driven.

During the week that I had the keys to the 720S, I experienced the Super Series car in a variety of settings. While the McLaren and I did not make it to the track, we did a fair amount of city driving, high-speed motoring and canyon carving.


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