McLaren has found itself in the spotlight at the Goodwood Festival of Speed: because it unveiled the tasty looking McLaren 570S Spider, because it announced a fourth year of profits from six years of existence, at a healthy and much envied 10% plus margin, and because, as I write this, Ron Dennis - Mr McLaren to a generation who don’t recall the original - is splitting from the team he made great again.
In the shade of all that, the revelation that the 570S Spider will likely become McLaren’s best-selling model seems somewhat overwhelmed, but it is a statistic that is worth dwelling on because it not only bucks an industry trend of declining convertible sales but also raises the prospect of a supercar maker’s most popular model being open-roofed, something that was unthinkable even a decade ago because of all the compromises a drop-top brought to the party.
The key, of course, is that Spider buyers are asked to make very slim compromises over the standard 570S to add the option of a folding hard roof. The asking price is slightly higher, yes, but so too is the versatility, and the styling is nigh-on compromised (train spotters can start with the fact the rear wing is 12mm longer to aid handling balance). Perhaps most importantly, the dynamics are scarcely compromised (wight is up by just 46kg) and the performance figures identical. For much of that we can thank McLaren’s carbonfibre monocell, around which the car is built, coupe or Spider.
Buyers will decide the final sales split, of course, and they now have the beguiling trio of 570S, 570GT and 570S Spider to choose from, but McLaren is preparing for a 50:50 split 570S and 570GT versus 570S Spider. They expected the same when they launched the 650 - and soon found 85% of buyers wanted the retractable roof, however. So, with sales of the ‘entry-level’ Sports Series cars flying along, accounting for around two-thirds of all McLaren sales, it’s almost certain its best-selling car will also be its newest (for now) one. No wonder they’re recruiting Woking way...