The McLaren supercar designed to beat Ferrari has arrived

In the world of motorsports, there are few rivalries as intense as Ferrari versus McLaren. Over the years, legendary figures such as Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, and Mika Hakkinen have waged war on the race tracks of Formula One for the two powerhouse teams.

Now, that battle has spilled over into the world of supercars. On Tuesday, McLaren launched its latest salvo — the 720S. Unveiled at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the 720S is the first member of McLaren’s new second generation Super Series to hit the market and its duty in life is to beat Ferrari.

The McLaren 720S is a high-tech marvel. Its futuristic looks are backed up by its advanced aerodynamics along with the latest in traction management technology and carbon-fibre materials.

“The 720S is an amazing car. Even though it’s our first second generation model, the car actually feels like we skipped the second generation and went straight to the third because it’s such a step forward in so many attributes,” McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt told Business Insider in a recent interview.

A few weeks before its Geneva unveiling, McLaren gave Business Insider a sneak peek at one of the company’s pre-production prototypes in New York. Here’s closer look at the new McLaren 720S.

Here it is! The new McLaren 720S!

Hollis Johnson

It's the follow-up to McLaren's highly successful first generation Super Series seen here in the form of a 650S Coupe.

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The 720S's target is Ferrari's 661 horsepower 488 GTB -- a car that was nearly named Business Insider's Car of the Year in 2016. So it needs to be pretty impressive to stand any chance.

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One thing immediately stands out -- the futuristic design. The body work of this supercar looks almost as if it's been shrink-wrapped onto its carbon fibre frame.

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Up front, the 720's fascia is dominated by a pair of LED headlights recessed into 'eye sockets'.

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In addition, the eye sockets feature integrated air intakes. These are perhaps the most polarising features on the car.

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Over all, the McLaren's silhouette is punctuated by its teardrop canopy that's designed to give drivers incredible visibility while flooding the cabin with light.

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Out back, the 720S features LED taillights, dual exhausts, and a hydraulically actuated rear spoiler that doubles as an air brake.

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Depending on how it's deployed, the wing can be used to improve high-speed stability, boost braking performance, or for drag-reduction during a high-speed run.

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Continuing in McLaren tradition, the 720S features a pair of upward swinging dihedral doors. When open, the doors reveal the car's new Monocage II carbon-fibre structure that's designed to be lighter, stronger, and easier to get in and out of.

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Step inside, and you'll find a leather and Alcantara-lined interior.

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In front of the driver is a large TFT digital instrument cluster. It's fully customisable based on the needs of the driver. In daily driving comfort mode, it looks like this.

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In sport mode, it looks like this.

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However, if the car's most extreme track setting is engaged, the gauge cluster retracts into a its 'Slim Display Mode' which shows only the basic information required by the driver while improving forward visibility.

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Here's the folding dash in action.

In addition, the 720S is available with a host of custom carbon-fibre trim pieces along with an upgraded Bowers & Wilkins sound system.

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Dominating the center stack is a new 8-inch touchscreen running the latest version of McLaren's IRIS infotainment system which is expected to be Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-compatible.

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Hidden underneath a mesh covering is the real heart of the McLaren. It's a brand new 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged M840T V8 engine producing 720 metric horsepower -- hence the name -- or 710 hp for those of us in the US. The engine is mated to a 7-speed twin-clutch transmission driving the rear wheels.

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The car's doors actually channel air towards the engine to help cool the beast of a motor.

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Even more impressive, rumours suggest that the new McLaren motor is capable of reliably producing at least another 100 horsepower before it's all said and done. So don't be shocked when you see an 830S in a few years.

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According to McLaren, the 720S can hit 60mph in 2.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 212 miles per hour. However, the company's numbers seem to be a bit conservative. McLaren's previous generation 650S has been clocked at 2.7 seconds while carrying more weight and 70 fewer horsepower.

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In addition, the 720S is equipped with McLaren's latest proactive adjustable suspension technology along with active aerodynamics.

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Here's a video overview of the new McLaren 720S:

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