What is it?
McLaren likes to call the 570S Spider its most attainable open-top, a statement not wholly unlike the Duke of Westminster telling you that the land in and around Battersea is very affordable.
Well, yes: compared to an acre of Belgravia, it probably is. But attainable in a broader, inclusive sense? Not on your nelly. The Spider starts at £164,750, which means most will be £200,000. It’s as exclusive as shale mining rights.
Nevertheless, with the outgoing 675 LT Spider originally priced from £285,000, you can see where McLaren is coming from. And in marked contrast to most lesser car makers, ‘attainable’ doesn’t mean ‘cynically second-rate’ for Woking. Far from it: the coupé version of the 570S – a car available for 911 Turbo S money – is as-near-as-damn-it 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 – not just in performance but in sales figures, too. Naturally the drop-top shares the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 in its 562bhp format and the seven-speed ‘seamless shift’ gearbox; ditto the Monocell II version of the carbonfibre 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 coupé’s composite roof panels pack themselves neatly away after 15 seconds of button-pushing. That the penalty is modest compared to most rivals is a familiar virtue of the Monocell: like the 12C Spider before it, no additional buttressing is required as the 570S is not dependant on its roof for torsional rigidity. Consequently the Spider is no less stiff than the coupé.
It’s practically no slower either. McLaren reports a deficiency of 0.1sec from 0-124mph, and unless you have the roof down, the drop-top will ultimately clock the same 204mph top speed. With the wind shot-blasting your hair, Woking quotes 196mph. Our left-hand-drive test car came equipped with the optional sports exhaust, ten-spoke forged wheels and a substantial smattering of carbonfibre body parts, among other things, for a final sticker price just shy of £210,000.
What's it like?
As is the way with open-top McLarens, prizes ought to be given for spotting the difference versus the coupé when the roof is up. The panel gaps and tonneau cover give it away, but otherwise the styling alterations are pleasingly limited (no-one is likely to spot, for example, that the Spider’s rear spoiler is 12mm higher to account for its aerodynamic alterations). This means that 570S’s swaggering prettiness carries over intact.
As, it must be said, does the slight palaver of getting into one. The sills are slimmer on Monocell II cars, but 16.5 stone of yours truly still tends 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 the kind of lumbar support that seeks to transform your slouch into an upright posture worthy of a Swiss finishing school.
Generally though, the 570S’s interior is fabulous. Obviously you’ll need six months of work experience on a Woking-based software development team to work the IRIS infotainment system with anything approaching intuitiveness, but the surrounding hand-built fit and finish is now almost uniformly immaculate and – under an additional layer of cost-option opulence – it looks it, too. The new two-part roof functions blamelessly, and will do so up to the safety-first speed of 25mph.
Roof up, McLaren has provided the option of raising or lowering the small rear glass screen which acts as a wind deflector once topless – a familiar supercar way of making the noise and airflow part of your day regardless of the weather – and there’s even some additional space for some luggage under the tonneau cover (think handbag or rucksack or anything else you fancy swearing about when the car reminds you it needs removing before the roof can come off).
Roof down, the world’s invariably peers in and with its attention comes a fairly stiff breeze. It’s not chronic by any means – but nor is it serene: expect a ruffling of the rug even at run-of-the-mill speeds, with the windows up. A modest level of bluster is acceptable, of course; somewhat less forgivable is the raucous quality of the soundtrack drowning 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 leveled at the coupé last year. But the Spider inevitably moves the sound closer to your ears, 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.
The complaints though do tend to dry up the moment you dip so much as a toenail in the mighty reservoir that is the Spider’s potential. Even with memory of the 720S’s benchmark-setting explosiveness still very fresh, its detuned stablemate is spleen-worryingly fast and in a way that manages to feel tractable, progressive, massive and yet not in anyway outsized for the rear-drive chassis it is attached to.
Much as it was in the coupé, 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. In this respect, the additional 46kg proves about as consequential as lashing an amoeba to the beak of peregrine falcon: the car still rides superbly, changes direction preternaturally and inspires untold levels of confidence in its precision and grip.
True, overt playfulness is arguably in short supply on the road, and there’s no mistaking McLaren’s brake-steer technology when it cuts in on Spanish hairpins, but with the adaptive handling set at ‘Normal’ and the powertrain to ‘Sport’, the experience of driving a 570S along a challenging road still ranks as one of industry’s greatest privileges. Power, pliancy, lightness, mechanical rigour and technological prowess collude nowhere more gratifyingly.
Should I buy one?
Plainly, yes. Much like the coupé, in every way which really ought to count, the Spider is frighteningly good. Its ability to make nonchalant GT-style progress and then back-flip spiritually and tangibly into the incision and controlled savagery of a modern mid-engined supercar threaten to place it solidly in a class of one.
At the same time there are undeniably elements which keep the Spider from the kind of stratospheric orbit where rivals appear as mere dots. The V8’s engine note, a middling gripe in the coupé, is brought to the fore by closer contact. It is not bad – yet nor is it a reason to seek out or spend time in the car, and that’s a demerit when you consider 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 even a Lamborghini Huracán. More often than not though, such thoughts are nullified by the 570S’s extraordinary drivability or its suppleness or its uncanny talent for keeping your continued enjoyment on an apparently endless feedback loop. Ten per cent less attainable than the coupé it might be, but the Spider easily qualifies for the same quota of stars in our rating.
McLaren 570S Spider
Price £164,750 Engine V8, 3799cc, twin-turbocharged petrol Power 562bhp at 7500rpm Torque 443lb ft at 5000-6500rpm Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch auto Kerb weight 1486kg Top speed 204mph 0-62mph 3.2sec Economy 26.6mpg CO2/tax band 249g/km, 37% Rivals Honda NSX, Audi R8 V10