A weekend with a McLaren 720S is always going to be memorable, but the surprise came in the discovery not of how good the car is (no spoiler alert: it’s ridiculously good) but in how many people knew exactly what car it was and how many people passed comment about how they’d now consider one over some of the more established (think Italian, Prancing Horse emblazoned) opposition.
The level of recognition was off the scale, from teenagers to grizzled businessmen, and that was a shock. In the past, lucky bugger than I am, I’ve spent many an hour walking enthusiasts around Woking’s finest, explaining what it was, who it was aimed at and where in the line-up of cars it fitted.
“It’s a 720S, isn’t it?” said one and all, although I paraphrase. “I’ve seen it on television and in magazines. It’s the best-looking McLaren I’ve ever seen - like they’ve finally discovered themselves.”
I’ll admit our local car-loving teenager, phone in hand, Instagram on meltdown, heart set to burst through his chest as I opened the door to let him sit inside, was the only one to spot the Track Pack additions, but you’ll get my point. Not so long ago, people didn’t know a McLaren supercar at first glance; now they know both its model name and purpose. The conclusion can only be that things are really starting to gel, both in terms of design and recognition.
I’ll admit to being semi-surprised, because until I got up close with the car, I hadn’t fully appreciated how distinctive the 720S was and how much, through a sum of small changes, it had moved McLaren’s offering on. Maybe I’d been distracted by the relentless focus on technical improvement, but I hadn’t appreciated just how much of a look the car has.
The second part of this equation was that people were suddenly lusting after a McLaren, to a level I’d not previously appreciated existed. Now, maybe, just maybe, that eye-searing orange paint scheme had something to do with it, although the love/hate split was somewhere around 75/25%.
I’ll always remember some of the management at McLaren in the early days lauding their creations for being "for thinking supercar buyers", the inference being that because the buyer had the confidence to know they’d made the big time, and the wisdom to spend this hard-earned cash in Woking, they didn’t need to shout about it. Nothing about this McLaren 720S met that brief - and, frankly, I think that’s a good thing.