McLaren 650S Spider first drive review
The slightly more expensive Spider version of McLaren’s awesome new 650S, and if you can afford the extra £20k that it costs over and above the £195,000 coupé, then this is the version to go for.
Why? Because it can do just about everything the coupé can do dynamically yet adds a sizeable hit of extra sex appeal to go with it. And that arrives courtesy of a folding hard top roof that can glide up or down in but a few seconds, and which transforms the 650S into an even more exotic creature on the move.
Roof down you can hear the machinations of the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 that much more clearly, especially with the hood up but the small screen atop the bulkhead down, curiously enough. And yet there are pretty much zero compromises to be shouldered elsewhere. Indeed, even McLaren itself admits that the Spider, despite carrying an extra 40kg in kerb weight, can lap most circuits in exactly the same time as the coupé 650S, while its zero to 60mph time is identical to the fixed head car’s at 3.0sec dead.
What is it like?
At its core the 650S Spider contains the same carbonfibre tub, the same 641bhp 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 engine, and the same tweaked seven-speed dual clutch auto gearbox and suspension as the coupé model so, on the move, it feels pretty much identical to drive. Which means it is one of the sharpest, fastest open-top cars money can buy.
Because the car’s carbon tub was designed to be a Spider or a coupé from the outset, there are zero compromises in terms of its stiffness, and that makes the Spider 650S feel quite incredibly alert for a car with no roof. As on the coupé, the new nose treatment has more than a whiff of P1 about it and will, says McLaren, form a key part of the company's design ethos from now on.
You'd have a harder job to spot the differences from the rear, though, because apart from a mildly redesigned diffuser and a couple of new fillets of carbonfibre around the tail-lights, the 650S looks all but identical to a 12C from behind – as a Spider or a coupé.
The Spider also boasts a touch more luggage space than the coupé intriguingly, due to a small additional boot beneath the tonneau cover, behind the front seats. And on the road it always feels that little bit more engaging to drive, mainly because you can drop the roof and listen to the engine more intensely without there being any perceptible drop in stiffness, performance or drivability. And with the roof up it feels much like the coupé, albeit with not quite as good visibility to the rear three quarters.
Should I buy one?
If you can afford a car like this, then be in no doubt; the 650S Spider is the new rule changer in this class. It gives nothing away to its excellent coupé brother dynamically, and yet in reality it sounds, goes, looks and drives better than ever. And in that respect it feels something of a bargain, even at £215k
McLaren 650S Spider
Price £215,250; 0-62mph 3.0sec; Top speed 207mph; Economy 24.2mpg (combined); CO2 275g/km; Kerb weight 1370kg (dry); Engine V8, 3799cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Installation Mid, longitudinal, RWD; Power 641bhp at 7500rpm; Torque 500lb ft at 6000rpm; Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch auto
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