When I was growing up, I dreamed of one day driving a McLaren. Given that it was the early 90s and I was growing up in a family that spent Sundays watching Formula One races and cheering for McLaren, I dreamed of the F1 – the car that was designed to unseat Ferrari as the world’s best manufacturer of sports cars. Later, as an adult, I dreamed of the McLaren P1. As the company introduced new models, each of them featured in my fantasies. But these were dreams I never expected to be realised, along with those other far-fetched ones, like becoming a Hollywood film star. Standing in the Daytona showroom in Melrose Arch, surveying the floor of magnificent, glossy and expensive beauty in front of me, I listened to Pedro Carneiro, brand manager at McLaren South Africa, telling me about the McLaren 720S I was about to test drive, and I had to pinch myself to know I wasn’t dreaming.

I drove the car on the very same day that McLaren issued an announcement that the 720S had been named World Performance Car 2019 by the World Car Awards jurors. Little wonder, given the car’s blend of power, prowess and driver comfort.

The 720S forms part of McLaren’s Super Series, along with the 675LT Spider and Coupé, the 650S, 625C and the 720S Spider. It debuted at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show as the introductory vehicle in the second-generation Super Series range and the successor to the 650S Coupé. Like every McLaren built, it is a work of art in its own right. It is a mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive, two-seater supercar designed to have the widest breadth of dynamic capability of any McLaren to date.

With my laptop case and handbag tucked safely in the surprisingly spacious boot at the front of the car, Carneiro opened the dihedral door for me and I stopped to sigh in appreciation. Before I lowered myself into the driver’s seat, I made a slow circle around the car to take it in from every angle. The McLaren dedication to aerodynamics is evident throughout with no curve wasted and its low, sexy exterior makes it ridiculously photogenic – the first car to make me consider joining Instagram.

I drove the car on the very same day that McLaren issued an announcement that the 720S had been named World Performance Car 2019 by the World Car Awards jurors. Little wonder, given the car’s blend of power, prowess and driver comfort.

Inside, I was surprised by the level of comfort. I didn’t feel like I had to fall into the car or struggle to wiggle out of it. The trim is classy and minimalist – I would expect nothing less from McLaren – but there is a surprising amount of technology packed into a car that weighs just 1 283kg. This is possible because of the car’s carbon fibre chassis based around McLaren’s Monocage II central structure, also known as the carbon fibre “tub”.


Starting the car yielded a throaty roar from the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine, capable of producing a whopping 710bhp and 770Nm. Its power-to-weight ratio is up to 561PS per tonne. McLaren says it offers double the aerodynamic efficiency of its predecessor, the 650S. It also has a new generation of McLaren’s active chassis system, Proactive Chassis Control II.

This is a car that takes 2.9 seconds to do 0-100kmph and has a maximum speed of 341kmph. The version I was sitting in, with its top-of-the-range trim, costs over R7 million. And yet, this is also a machine that is as easy to drive as a family sedan.

I cruised down the highway at a speed that’s, shall we say, rather higher than the limit, casually chatting to Carneiro about the brand’s history and occasionally terrifying both of us with my less-than-practised left-foot braking (the 720S can brake from 200kmph to a standstill in just 4.6 seconds). And, if it weren’t for the sound of the turbo in action, the logo emblazoned on the steering wheel and the ever-present feeling of wanting to acquiesce to the lure of that accelerator pedal, I might have been able to forget for a second that I was driving a supercar capable of taking on the likes of the 911 GT3 or the Ferrari 488 GTB… and winning comfortably.

But, on an open stretch of road, I got a chance to push that pedal down just a bit and the response from the car is more than satisfying, particularly as I get up towards 4000rpm. I can only imagine the sheer terror that using the launch control functionality could induce.

The seven-speed dual-clutch, seamless-shift gearbox has paddle-shift controls and drivers can choose between automatic or manual control, meaning traffic is a breeze, but you can still enjoy taking matters into your own hands on the track.

In fact, while the 720S is designed to be comfortable for urban life, its real home must be the track. Where else can you explore its full potential? The car even has a clever track telemetry system to show lap performance on the central display, and a dedicated Track mode, along with the Comfort and Sport options. Daytona clients who buy a McLaren have access to both the McLaren owners’ club and the Daytona Supercar Club. These host various track days, breakfast runs and other events throughout the year, where car owners can enjoy the chance to socialise and sometimes even compete.

As I pulled back into the Daytona property, raising the nose of the car at the push of a button to improve ground clearance in the narrow streets of Melrose Arch, I realised that now that I have achieved this dream, I need a new one. Thankfully, surveying the showroom floor, a number immediately presented themselves. As McLaren continues to push the boundaries of technology and motoring, my dreams will continue to be populated by their cars.

The trim is classy and minimalist – I would expect nothing less from McLaren – but there is a surprising amount of technology packed into a car that weighs just 1 283kg.