Among the changes that McLaren has made for the Spider is to drop the clumsy “MP4” part of its moniker, so that it is now simply titled 12C Coupe or, in this case, Spider. 

Visually, the attachment of a folding solid roof has precious little difference to the lines of the 12C. It is still, to our eyes, a relatively attractive shape and one which is ageing gracefully enough, but one that even now gets people looking because it’s a McLaren, not looking because of the way it’s designed. 

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Editor-at-large
The engine bay is neatly hidden under a glass cover

Then, McLaren has always been a company to err on the understated side of things.

Efficiency of performance is more of a McLaren trademark, so you’ll probably not be surprised to learn that the numbers on structural rigidity of the roofless 12C were all worked out well in advance of the coupe’s launch and that, even though the twin-panel roof mechanism adds 40kg, it takes away not a jot of the torsional stiffness of the 12C’s carbonfibre tub.

Away from the roof mechanism – whose panels and the engine cover are the only body panels that separate the Spider from the Coupe - things stay mechanically identical to the fixed-roof variant. Similar, then, but in detail ever so slightly different to 2011 models. 

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For a start, power is up on the 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged flat-plane crank V8 from 592bhp at 7000rpm as tested initially, to 616bhp now (and at 7500rpm). It’s a modest increase and torque is unchanged at 442lb ft but McLaren claims that, with the alteration, has come an improvement in the sharpness of the throttle response, to counter mild turbo lag that hindered the handling balance by pushing the car into understeer.

With that tweak came a couple of others, available retrofit to all 12Cs, including recalibrated gearchanges to make them crisper and faster, and a retuned “Intake Sound Generator”, which filters the engine note to the cabin.

Otherwise the mechanical set-up is the same, with aluminium subframes attached front and rear to the tub, and double-wishbone suspension, coil springs and linked hydraulic/pneumatic dampers. 

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