Our favourite driver’s car of 2018 is made more desirable still with this new Spider version. Can it reach the same lofty heights?

Is McLaren’s second attempt at a hardcore track-ready modern long-tail supercar quite as good as the first was – the reputation-building 675LT? That’s this week’s hot topic, and all the signs so far have promised just so.

The 600LT coupé is, of course, Autocar’s reigning Best Driver’s Car. It won out in an incredibly tight judges’ vote at Anglesey Circuit in October last year at the head of a quite incredible field that included the Alpine A110, Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Jaguar XE SV Project 8 and Ferrari 488 Pista.

A substantial rear wing and elongated front splitter were key aspects of the original F1 GTR ‘Longtail’s’ design. Similar cues appeared on the 675LT and now they’re present on the 600LT

At the time, the coupé escaped our road test treatment, so now’s our chance to lavish the full six-page, performance benchmarking exercise on the new 600LT Spider. Now we can finally and fully explore what makes this latest Longtail brilliant, and also better define exactly what it was about the car that made its victory at Anglesey last year so tight.

Our first drive of the 600LT Spider came earlier this year in North America where, on the road only, the car repeated a feat we’re beginning to take for granted from McLaren: it demonstrated all the apparent advantages of the coupé – huge pace, superb steering, balanced handling and a stunning road-appropriate suspension calibration – but added the appeal of folding hard-top open air motoring.

Now is the chance to try the 600LT Spider in right-hand-drive form, on UK roads – and to unleash it on benchmark handling circuits at MIRA’s proving ground to find out just how close a match the Longtail performance makeover has made the supercar to the likes of the 720S and even the incredible Senna on sheer, exhilarating track pace.

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Price £201,500 Power 592bhp Torque 457lb ft 0-60mph 2.9sec 30-70mph in fourth 6.3sec Fuel economy 16.7mpg CO2 emissions 276g/km 70-0mph 39.9m

McLaren 600LT range at a glance

There are two flavours of 600LT available: the standard coupé and the convertible Spider tested here. The Spider comes with a big price hike over and above the coupé, but such is the price of open-air motoring.

McLaren has worked hard to shave weight from the car, so things like satellite navigation, carpets, air conditioning and a stereo are not included as standard. Those not too concerned about lap times can add some creature comforts back in.

McLaren 600LT Spider 2018-2020 First drives