Improvements? Certainly. Detractions? Not a bit of it. The McLaren 12C Spider is a car made better than it was at launch in so many respects, from its name through to its limit handling, including key details – the throttle response and the shift-paddle action, most notably. 

The fundamentals, however, remain the same. The handling balance is better but close to where it started and the engine will always be turbocharged.

It’s these kinds of elements that were responsible for the oh-so-close rating we gave the 12C Coupe two years ago, and they’re responsible for it now. 

McLaren’s crowning achievement, then, is that the Spider is, unlike the Ferrari 458, not compromised one jot by the loss of its roof. 

Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s better, and the 458’s loss is enough to bring it down to join the 12C on 4.5 stars.

What we'd like to see - barring vocal improvements - is for McLaren to make it easier to switch out the ESP, and make it more adjustable when you have. At the moment one suspects the car prefers you do drive it its way. People with £200k to spend on cars are used to making their own decisions.

Forced to choose, the more playful and characterful 458 remains more of a supercar for more of our testers. But the margin is closer than ever.

McLaren 12C Spider 2012-2014 news

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