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    / #McLaren-720S & #Lamborghini-Aventador-Roadster

    The ‘digital’ McLaren heads to Italy, where the Brit aims to put one over on its ‘analogue’ rival

    / #Lamborghini-Aventador / #Lamborghini / #McLaren-720S / #McLaren-720 / #McLaren /

    The re-emergence of the sun meant it was time for the year’s first proper road trip, and therefore the Black fleet 720S’s toughest test yet: a jaunt from Monaco into Italy, with Woking’s McLaren going head-to-head with one of the home team’s star players, the Lamborghini Aventador Roadster.

    The route was set to include motorways, viaducts and tunnels through Italian countryside, and the most picturesque of roads carved into the mountains, to get a real sense of each car’s capabilities. Some friends would be there, too, in an M4 F82, AMG C63 W205 and a 911 GT3 (991.2), and the agenda was simple: have as much fun as possible over two days, enjoy the performance and drama of the cars, but also try to nail down the emotions that they evoke in mere mortals like us.

    The first part of the route was filled with those tunnels and sweeping viaducts, where first blood went to the Aventador based on pure aural intensity. There’s nothing that sounds quite like the feral scream of that naturally aspirated V12, particularly when run out to the red line, before slotting another gear (with a fearsome jolt) in Corsa mode. With the roof stowed, the full range of that high-pitched wail that rebounds off every tunnel and slab-sided truck could be enjoyed, providing an intoxicating hit of automotive hedonism. I never tire of that experience, which induces manic grins every time, and demands that the formula is repeated.

    The McLaren, by comparison, is a much more calculated technological tour de force. It’s a scalpel to the Lamborghini’s sledgehammer, providing the driver with a scientific instrument to extract the maximum performance in any conditions. My friend driving the M4, who became utterly besotted with the McLaren, likened the 720S to a classically trained ballerina, and the Aventador to a rugby prop forward at the top of his game. He also described the 720S as ‘creamy, magical – it felt like my favourite friend was helping me down a tricky road’. And he loved the instruments rotated to the minimalist display, deciding it was far from a gimmick, but instead took away distractions and added to the purity of the drive.

    My GT3-owning friend, on the other hand, was much more taken with the Aventador’s charms. Like many, he characterised much of the appeal and charm of the Italian heavyweight being in the emotion and drama. He reckoned that ‘supercars shouldn’t drive as easily as a Ford Focus – rampant performance should be built up to’.

    There is undoubtedly a huge skill factor in driving both these cars nearer the edge, and none of the drivers on this trip would claim to be able to assess the cars’ capabilities in the way that many of the journalists in this magazine have so deftly described. But we have been able to gauge the approachability of the performance, which is undoubtedly more accessible in the 720S.

    Does it make it the better supercar? Not necessarily. Whilst one friend claimed ‘I tried and felt something approaching greatness in the 720S today’, another suggested that the McLaren was ‘almost anodyne. I wasn’t excited by how it feels and what the car does. It’s capable, but it felt almost digital.’

    As I’m sure you can imagine, the debate raged on over many glasses of good Italian red wine without any real conclusion. Perhaps next time we’ll have to invoke some sort of eCoty scoring system, but I’ll sign off this month with my thoughts on which is the more ‘evo’ car for me.

    I’ve mentioned before my ambition for each car in the Black garage to have its unique circumstance to shine, and these cars justified their acquisitions for quite different reasons, but what this trip brought into stark relief is the role they each play in the fleet.

    The 720S is truly a car of the digital age: the way in which it makes the most rapid progress is intuitive, easy and accessible. It’s a huge feat and McLaren should be applauded for making such a magnificent supercar experience available at this price point; I love it. However, the Aventador feels like the epitome of the supercar event for me. It’s not as quick, it’s clunky in comparison and the technology and interface is seven years old, but it has such a sense of drama and makes the heart beat a little faster and the adrenaline flow a little quicker.

    Oh, and the Italian Tifosi test? There was only one car that men, boys and women wanted selfies and pictures seated in, and it wasn’t from Woking. Until next time…

    John Black (@john_m_black)

    Date acquired November 2015
    Total mileage 4897
    Mileage this month 332
    Costs this month £0
    Mpg this month 10.2

    McLaren 720S
    Date acquired November 2017
    Total mileage 921
    Mileage this month 365
    Costs this month £0
    Mpg this month 12.3

    ‘The trip brought into stark relief the role that each of these cars plays in the Black fleet’
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    John Black
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