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Here's Why the McLaren 720S Is Worth $300,000

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author photo by Doug DeMuro November 2017

For many years now, I've complained to everyone who would listen -- at first, just my friend Peri, but now hundreds of thousands of people on Oversteer and YouTube -- that all McLaren models look the same and have the same engine, and I think that's really annoying. It seems McLaren has finally answered my criticism, or -- maybe more likely -- they have no idea who I am, and they were developing this anyway. It's called the 720S.

The 720S is McLaren's new exotic supercar, and it's designed primarily to rival the Ferrari 488 and Lamborghini Huracan, and also the Porsche 911 Turbo S and the Audi R8 V10 Plus. Except it's absolutely insane: The 720S is 280 pounds lighter than a Ferrari 488 GTB, and it has 710 horsepower -- to the 488's 660 hp, and the 630 horses in the new Lamborghini Huracan Performante. The 720S will do zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds. The 720S will do 220 miles per hour. The 720S is absolutely bonkers.

So I recently had a chance to drive the 720S courtesy of McLaren Philadelphia, the local McLaren dealer here in (surprise, surprise) the Philadelphia area, as they happened to have a former manufacturer car that had already been driven a few miles. I spent a few hours with this car, including some significant time behind the wheel, and I've come to the conclusion that exotic cars have all gone absolutely, catastrophically mad, and this is the maddest of them all.

This conclusion starts with the numbers I've listed above, but it continues on to this number: the 720S I drove had a sticker price of $335,000. Three-hundred and thirty-five thousand. You probably think exotic cars are all priced to the moon, so that doesn't shock you all that much, but consider this: The 720S didn't exist 15 years ago, but the 2002 version of its closest Ferrari rival cost just $155,000 back then. Yes, inflation has happened since 2002, but not that much inflation. These cars are all just ridiculously expensive now.

And they're also ridiculously equipped. The 720S I drove had some features I've never seen before, including windows in the upper parts of the doors. So you get inside, and there's a window to your left (the normal window, which rolls down), and a window in front of you (the windshield), and a window behind you (the rear glass), and also a window above you. The entire cabin felt like a fighter jet. This feeling continued with the gauge cluster, which electronically rotates a full 90 degrees based on what mode you're in. They couldn't just settle for a configurable gauge cluster screen. Switch into "track" mode and the entire panel and housing physically moves.

So there are a lot of cool features, and I discussed them all in the video, but let's talk about the driving experience for a second: the 720S is fast. Really fast. Very fast. Unbelievably fast. So fast you stab the throttle and it feels like a roller coaster and you're just there to have a good time until you realize you have to control this thing, too -- and oh, yeah, it's also pretty good at that. Steering is incredibly precise. The car feels like it's glued to the road. And the interior reminds you that you're in something very, very special, which isn't always the case with exotic cars. The Audi R8 and the 911 Turbo S, for instance, feel like normal cars unless you're on the throttle; that's absolutely not the case with the 720S and its copious amounts of orange everywhere.

Really, the 720S is superlative; I don't think the handling is quite as precise as the Lamborghini Huracan, but it's better in every other way than any other exotic car in this range: It's faster, it's got more tech, it's quicker, its design is more radical, it's cooler. And, frankly, that's how this segment always seems to go: The newest car is the best car, until the next newest car comes along, and then that's the best, and on and on. But right now the 720S is the newest, it's the best, and it's absolutely amazing.

But is it worth $300,000?

The question still gnaws at me, weeks after I drove the car. At $150,000, it's ridiculous, but it's not totally out of the realm of affordability for relatively well-off people. At $300,000, it's in a new realm; reachable only by the very wealthiest. I can't be sure it's really "worth" $300,000, which shows that I'm in no position to afford one. For the people who are, they won't even bat an eyelash.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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New 2017 McLaren 570S
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MSRP $217,540
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Here's Why the McLaren 720S Is Worth $300,000 - Autotrader