Gulf Insider spends time with what’s been called “the world’s greatest supercar”.
By Charlie Cooksey
I remember visiting McLaren’s factory in Woking back in the summer of 2015 and being impressed with its beauty – spacious modern architecture on the edge of a lake set within the rolling hills of the English countryside. Everything was state of the art and spotlessly clean – you could, as the saying goes, ‘eat your lunch off the floor’.
I felt the pride and innovation of the McLaren workforce and the great lengths the engineers go to improve every product for speed, lightness, safety, and to make the world’s finest performance machines.
I have kept good relations ever since, to the extent McLaren kindly offered me a striking bright orange 720s Spider to use as my personal transport when they learned I’d be visiting the UAE over a four-day long weekend last month. It would have been rude to have turned down such an enticing offer so on arriving in Dubai, I went and collected this thrilling machine from the Dubai Autodrome.
Getting into the 720s, silly me had forgotten this car doesn’t do ‘normal doors’ – it sports the gull-wing doors. Getting in and out was at first a bit of a challenge for my 6’2” frame. But, after a few attempts I mastered it and soon was climbing in and out looking like I owned the car!
The weather was still great in Dubai – not yet too hot. So, as soon as I drove out from the Dubai Autodrome, I pressed the button that retracted the roof (which folds away in just 11 seconds at speeds up to 50 kph) and the blue skies opened up around me.
The twin-turbo V8 4-litre engine provides 718 bhp and 568 lb-ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels through a 7-speed auto dual-clutch gearbox that is lightning-fast.
The Spider can accelerate from zero to 100 kph in a blistering 2.8 seconds, and can reach 200 kph in 7.9 seconds before continuing to its 340 kph top speed. This car’s quicker than a Bugatti Veyron and when I put my foot down, it violently pinned me to my seat.
The car is incredibly low. It almost feels like you’re sitting on the ground. There is a button near the steering wheel that you push when you’re about to go over a steep hump, which raises the car’s ground clearance. With all the speed humps in Dubai, I was using it fairly frequently.
Despite its stunning design, McLaren always puts function first. The hollow headlights allow air to flow through to hidden coolers. The massive adjustable rear wing not only generates downforce when accelerating, but doubles as an air brake when required. Even the doors are designed to channel air around the car.
The one-piece carbon-fiber platform is extremely light and stiff, and it has one of the most sophisticated suspension systems money can buy. There’s virtually zero body roll in corners, yet this car also rides comfortably on the highway. Steering is as perfect as any car you’ll drive, as is the braking thanks to four oversized carbon-ceramic-based brakes.
Inside, everything is designed to make the driving experience as comfortable as possible for driver and passenger. There’s good sound insulation and the interior is surprisingly quiet, even at relatively high speed. The digital instrument cluster changes as you move through different driving modes, which is entertaining.
After spending a few days with the 720S Spider, I was able to appreciate its rare ability to combine hyper-car performance with driving comfort. No mean feat.
Prices in Bahrain start from BHD 120,000.
To arrange your own Bahrain test drive, call +973 8000 7878 or visit the McLaren Bahrain website.