McLaren likes to call the 570S Spider its most attainable open-top – which is true, because it’s the only Spider currently available here.
Is it attainable in a broader, inclusive sense? Not quite. Starting at $435,750, the Spider is as exclusive as shale mining rights and our left-hand drive test car came with the optional sports exhaust, 10-spoke forged wheels and a substantial smattering of carbon-fibre body parts.
However, the coupe version of the 570S is almost the complete supercar and arguably only second to the God-like 720S in the firm’s ever-expanding canon. As that car forms almost the entire basis for the Spider, much is expected of McLaren’s latest model – in performance and sales figures.
Naturally, the drop-top shares the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 in its 419kW format and the seven-speed ‘seamless shift’ gearbox; ditto the MonoCell II version of the carbon fibre tub and the all-round double wishbone suspension attached to it.
The chief difference, then, is a 46kg increase in kerb weight; the drawback of having the coupe’s composite roof panels pack themselves neatly away in 15 seconds. That the penalty is modest compared with most rivals is a familiar virtue of the MonoCell: like the 12C Spider before it, no additional buttressing is required because the 570S is not dependant on its roof for torsional rigidity.
Consequently, the Spider is no less stiff than the coupe. It’s practically no slower, either. McLaren reports a deficiency of 0.1sec from 0-200km/h – and, unless you have the roof down, the drop-top will ultimately clock the same 328km/h top speed.
With the wind shot-blasting your hair, Woking quotes 315km/h. As is the way with open-top McLarens, prizes ought to be given for spotting the difference from the coupe when the roof is up. The panel gaps and tonneau cover give it away but, otherwise, the styling alterations are pleasingly limited.
This means that the 570S’s swaggering prettiness carries over intact. As does the slight palaver of getting into one. The sills are slimmer on MonoCell II cars, but you tend to fall in the driver’s seat like a sandbag shoved over a sea wall.
The hardship won’t stop there if you’ve opted for McLaren’s notoriously unforgiving Carbon Fibre Racing Seats, which come equipped with virtually no lumbar support. The new two-part roof functions blamelessly, and will do so up to 40km/h.
Roof up, McLaren has provided the option of raising or lowering the small rear glass screen, which acts as a wind deflector once topless. There’s even space for luggage under the tonneau cover. Roof down you can feel a stiff breeze; it’s not chronic, but nor is it serene.
A modest level of bluster is acceptable, of course; somewhat less forgiveable is the raucous quality of the soundtrack attempting to drown it out. Criticism of McLaren’s turbocharged V8 in this regard is nothing new, nor is it any different from the must-try-harder censure we levelled at the coupe last year.
But the Spider inevitably moves the sound closer to your ear lobes and, while its guttural brand of industriousness has an enormous and savage presence, it doesn’t induce you to drive permanently under the influence like a Ferrari 488 or Audi R8 would.
However, the complaints thin when accessing the Spider’s potential. It’s spleen-worryingly fast in a way that manages to feel tractable, progressive, massive and yet not in any way outsized for the rear-drive chassis it is attached to.
Much as it was in the coupe, it is the 570S’s capacity for turning this febrile low-end acceleration into an accessible, usable and supremely tactile drive that distinguishes the Spider from almost every serious rival. The car still rides superbly, changes direction preternaturally and inspires untold levels of confidence in its precision and grip.
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True, overt playfulness is arguably in short supply on the road, and there is no mistaking McLaren’s brake-steer tech when it cuts in, but with the adaptive handling set to ‘Normal’ and the powertrain to ‘Sport’ driving a 570S on a challenging road still ranks as one of industry’s greatest privileges.
Power, pliancy, lightness, mechanical rigour and technological prowess collude nowhere more gratifyingly. However, there are elements that grate. The V8’s engine note, a middling gripe in the coupe, is brought to the fore by closer contact. It’s not bad, yet nor is it a reason to seek out or spend time in the car – and that’s a demerit given the price and competition.
As a result, there are fleeting instances when it might plausibly be more rewarding or edifying to be in a 488 Spider or Lamborghini Huracan.
Yet, more often than not such thoughts are nullified by the 570S’s extraordinary driveability, its suppleness and its uncanny talent for keeping your continued enjoyment on an apparently endless feedback loop.
4.5 stars out of 5
Likes: Dynamics retained despite slight weight increase; stupidly rapid
Dislikes: Still not the most aurally pleasing
2017 McLaren 570S Spider specs:
Engine: 3799cc V8, DOHC, 32v, twin turbo
Power: 419kW @ 7500rpm
Torque: 600Nm @ 3500rpm
0-100km/h: 3.2sec (claimed)