McLaren GT V McLaren 720S Coupe Compared
Have you ever wanted to properly test one McLaren against another? We thought it might be fun to pit the new McLaren GT against the McLaren 720S Coupe. So we schlepped up to Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford to give it a go.
Millbrook is an iconic test track for the world’s leading automotive manufacturers with an unparalleled series of on-road and off-road circuits designed to test cars in all possible real-world road conditions.
The sun was shining with unusual brilliance for this time of year as we jumped into the McLaren GT first. I’d just toured for a week in the South of England with it so was well used to the controls. What a pleasure to be back so soon in that fine leather interior. The first thing to note in the GT the door sill is lower and the door rises higher and out less for easier access in tight spaces. Next that interior is genuinely welcoming and luxurious compared to the 720S and comfortable even over long distances.
Fluted side ducts adorn the back of the GT and front for the 720S. Lamps are part of the aero system on the 720S. Plus the rear wing on the 720S rises both at speed to increase downforce and goes vertical when braking to increase stopping power and stability. This airbrake improves cornering too and looks pretty fabulous in action. GT appearance is still supercar glory but toned down from the 720S, though heads still turn everywhere you go with the whisper “McLaren Supercar” on everyone’s lips.
The specs for the GT are world-class. A mid-engined 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8 with 620PS and 630Nm of torque. Standing start to 100km/h (0-62mph) takes just 3.2 seconds, while 0-200km/h (0-124mph) is achieved in 9 seconds. Top speed is a whopping 326km/h or 203mph. And it has 420 Litres of rear luggage space.
Whilst the 720S has the same mid-engined 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8, it powers up to 720PS and 770Nm of torque. 0-60mph takes just 2.8 seconds. And 124mph arrives in an astonishing 7.8 seconds. Ouch, thankfully it has an MSO defined titanium harness bar mounted behind the seats, designed as the ultimate anchor for performance with unrivalled safety.
Both cars have the latest world-famous Formula One Monocage IIS and carbon fibre structure keeping weight in both cars to a minimum, lighter than in-class rivals. The GT comes in at 1,530 Kg whilst the 720S weighs only 1,283 Kg. That does give the 720s an edge but the GT is still amazingly light. McLaren are expert at shaving weight off wherever possible.
Performance-wise, both are thrilling. There is little in it. Taking the GT on the Mile straight is an absolute blast. Launch off with the pedal and brake pressed down to the max and it presses you back into your seat with a massive grin on your face. As you hit 140 mph it is rock solid and smooth. The stability is eerie, you remain flat as a 120-ton train.
The 720S on the Mile straight is a little more brutal, the slam back even more thrilling, the acceleration less linear and aggressive from the start. And of course, the engine screech is more noticeable in the 720S. I prefer the braking here too as the GT is a little smooth for me. These are supercars after all, I want humungous deceleration as my choice, though the GT does give you that, it is software softened for touring.
The Alpine Hill Route is the real test for these cars. 6.5km of hilly roads with gradients from 6.5% to 26%m blind hills and corners, plus the temperature was around 1 C so there was ice where the sun did not shine in the shadow areas. Nothing like the threat of invisible ice to focus the mind speed testing supercars on corners.
Mclaren’s GT is supremely comfortable at high speed, more than capable of correcting any errors approaching corners or summiting over blind peaks. The stability is legendary, Proactive Chassis Control II keeps you level even if you need to brake heavily into the corner. The electro-hydraulic steering is child’s play to use and by god you can use all that power to accelerate out at terrifying speed, ready for the next chicane or vicious blind turn.
The Hill Route in the 720S is just a little scarier. It can handle all those reverse slanted turns with equal or better performance but the engine dynamics are tuned for greater driver control. Coming out of the corners was more akin to a rollercoaster, the acceleration over such tiny distances immense. The hairs on my arms and neck stood up and the adrenalin blazed through both heart and mind.
Last I took both on the high-speed circuit, a curved bowl that lets you test the cars at speeds of up to 150 mph. The curve of the different lanes is set so that the car will go in a straight line at 70, 8 and 100 mph without your hands on the wheel. Both McLaren’s are pretty indistinguishable here, perhaps a slightly smoother ride in the GT, but straight-line handling is flawless on each.
How does the Mclaren GT and 720S ultimately compare?
The difference in acceleration from 0-62 mph comes down to 0.4 secs with an extra 9 mph top speed for the 720S, so not really worth worrying about. The exterior styling is more subtle in the GT, the 720S Coupe is racier and more stylised, the poster supercar, but both are staggeringly beautiful. The 720S drive is more brutal, so that’s what it comes down to in the end. Do you want an exciting, roaring drive every time or something smoother with everyday usability that can go beast when required? If pushed I’d go for the looks of the 720S, but the usability and interior of the GT.
The Hill Route perhaps illustrates the true difference between the two cars. How do you rate your driving skills, pro driver or merely excellent? If you’re just a great driver, get the GT. In the end, it’s horses for courses, which exterior tickles your fancy and which interior suits you best. Personally, I’d have both in different liveries and pick my mood on the day.
McLaren 720S Coupe