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McLaren 570S Spider 2018

2018 McLaren 570S Spider first drive review: Baseline dream machine

2018 McLaren 570S Spider first drive review: Baseline dream machine

In Hales Corners, Wisconsin, last Saturday night a 14-year-old boy named Sam reached over and pushed down on his mom’s knee to get the family’s Chrysler Town & Country moving. Her foot went to the floor, the Chrysler Pentastar V-6 perked up, and the van accelerated at a modest clip. “Meh, it’s just not the same,” Sam said.

As a McLaren, that is.

Minutes earlier, I had taken Sam for a ride in a 2018 McLaren 570S Spider. I accelerated at a brisk pace onto the freeway, drove at a whopping 30 mph in a couple roundabouts, and kicked the tail out in a corner. It was fairly tame stuff for a car of the 570S’s capability but really cool for a 14-year-old boy. Sorry, mom.

Sam’s ride was my attempt to find a way to enjoy this convertible sports car on a cold Midwestern day. While I would usually take a beast like this to the Autobahn Country Club for a few laps around the track, McLaren forbids any track days except for those it runs. The convertible body style would have been great a couple weeks ago when it was 81 degrees, but the temperature had since fallen into the 30s and 40s, so top-down driving wasn’t in the cards.

2019 McLaren 570S Spider

2019 McLaren 570S Spider

2019 McLaren 570S Spider

McLaren was offering me cake, but insisting I only nibble at the corners.

Still, when life hands you a McLaren, you have to enjoy it, so I figured I’d share it with others and try my best to make up a good drive route in an area notorious for straight suburban stop-and-go roads.

Base isn’t so base.

The 570S is McLaren’s “base” car. It’s part of the brand’s Sports Series, which is aimed more at grand touring than ultimate performance. Still, the structure is a carbon fiber tub that ensures the coupe and Spider share the same level of structural rigidity. A 562-horsepower 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 sits behind the driver, and it pushes the car to a top speed of 204 mph.

That’s a supercar design and those are supercar numbers, even though McLaren refers to the 570S as a sports car.

The differences from the coupe are relatively minor. The power-operated hardtop opens and closes at the touch of a button in 15 seconds at speeds up to 25 mph. A small power rear window acts as a wind deflector and a noise enhancer for the midship-mounted engine. The power top adds 110 pounds to the total weight, which comes in at 3,314 pounds. McLaren also extends the rear spoiler a half inch higher to make up for the change in body shape versus the coupe. The top speed is the same, but if you’re nuts enough to run all-out with the top down, V-max drops to a mere 196 mph.

While the coupe starts at $192,500, the Spider runs $210,500. Both include the $2,500 destination charge. The car I enjoyed for 72 glorious hours had $4,320 worth of Vega Blue paint, soft-close doors ($760), the Sport Trim interior ($3,110) that includes a mix of Alcantara and leather with contrast stitching, lightweight forged 19-inch wheels ($3,260) with a diamond-cut finish ($1,880), painted brake calipers ($1,110), a Bowers & Wilkins audio system ($2,280), a nose lift system ($1,560), a lithium-ion battery charger ($230), and an MSO Defined Titanium SuperSports exhaust system ($5,460). All those goodies brought the total to $235,270.

Making a day of it

On a chilly Saturday I had lunch with a buddy at the best rib joint in town, then took him for a quick ride. After folding himself into the opening left by the dihedral passenger door, he commented that with so little room inside, there isn’t much luxury. He then reconsidered and said, “I suppose just owning this car is the luxury.”

On a clear freeway onramp I kicked the throttle down to let the twin-turbo V-8 unleash its fury, only to be thwarted by the 42-degree temperature. The Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires reacted poorly to the 42-cold. As they scrambled for traction and made the rear end dance I had to ease off the throttle or risk spinning out. Still, after a brief pause for the turbos to spool up, the car took off with gusto—too much for its tires—and its seven-speed dual-clutch transmission ripped seamlessly through its gears. Had the temperature been even 10 degrees warmer, the 0-60 mph time would have shot by in just 3.1 seconds.

I dropped him off, then set off on my customized drive route. I’ve probably made the drive from Chicago to Milwaukee a thousand times, but always on I-94. This time, I figured I’d stick close to Lake Michigan and follow Sheridan Road as far as it would go.

2019 McLaren 570S Spider

2019 McLaren 570S Spider

2019 McLaren 570S Spider

It’s an appropriate route for this car, snaking its way through the most affluent Chicago north shore suburbs. Think where the Ferrari was parked in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” because that’s literally where it was parked. Sheridan Road also curves left and right in various sections, which is a rarity around here.

The curves let me get a taste for the handling, which is almost supernaturally flat, even with the suspension in the Normal mode. Complemented by sharp, direct steering, and a high, firm brake pedal, the 570S benefits from the bones needed for the track capability of the brand’s even more capable cars.

Sport and Track modes are also available, but the ride tightens up to much that I left it in Normal and did my best to avoid larger potholes. Those I hit did their best to shake loose my fillings.

I’d love to tell you what handling is like on the track at the limit, but that would be having my cake and eating it too. Driving up through the beautiful suburbs of Wilmette, Winnetka, Highland Park, and Lake Bluff, the 570S seemed right at home. A car like this could be parked in any of these U-shaped driveways, along with a Range Rover or Escalade.

At suburban speeds in Normal mode, the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 was a buzzy companion, but it never felt high-strung and didn’t demand to be flogged. In fact, it was a bit too docile for a supercar. I preferred to hit the Active button, then turn the powertrain mode switch to Sport to bring the engine forward, and I used Track when I planned to lay into the throttle. In those modes, the transmission holds onto gears longer, and turbo lag isn’t as noticeable. While full-throttle acceleration is thrilling, I found a big difference between the 562 horses of the 570s and the 710 mercurial ponies of the 720S. The 720S, which sits at the top of the lineup in the brand’s Super Series, provides jet-like propulsion.

2019 McLaren 570S Spider

The route eventually gave way to less-influential towns of Waukegan, North Chicago, and post-industrial war zones like Racine and Kenosha, where the car stood as stark relief, then joined up with I-94.

My route provided far better scenery than I get on a strictly freeway drive. It passed by a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright houses on Chicago’s north shore, took me to the Wright-designed SC Johnson headquarters in Racine, and kissed Lake Michigan at one point once I crossed the border into Wisconsin. It also turned an hour-and-20-minute drive into a three-hour tour. I’d complain in a Prius. Not in a McLaren.

Everywhere I went people appreciated the car. They gave me the thumbs up. Asked to take pictures of it, and told me it’s beautiful.

2019 McLaren 570S Spider

Sam especially appreciated the car. I spoke to him on Monday after a day at school. He told his friends he got to ride in a McLaren but couldn’t remember what model it was. He also said the seats were comfy, the interior design was clean, the car sat really low to the ground, and he liked the fact that he could feel the heat coming off the engine after I shut off the car. He finished by saying, “Thank you. That was fun.”

Maybe I didn’t get to experience the McLaren 570S in ideal conditions, but Sam will never forget it.

2018 McLaren 570S Spider Review: Go On, Take Your Top Off

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With no compromise over the 570S Coupe, McLaren makes a heck of a case for going topless.

While I’m not usually the guy who chooses convertible over coupe, it’s hard to argue against the McLaren 570S Spider. That’s especially true today, soaking in the sun along California’s Highway 1, tracing the coast from Pacific Palisades up to Malibu. Never mind how good the warm rays feel on my cheeks, or how the salty air tingles as it hits the skin inside my nose. With absolutely no performance or utility lost in the transition from Coupe to Spider, going topless only works to enhance the already brilliant 570S experience.

One of the best-driving cars on the road today. And I don’t say that lightly. Every facet of McLaren driving comes together in an intoxicating nature – the company’s supercars have a character all their own. Everything from the incredibly precise, nicely weighted steering, to how amicable the suspension is to different types of road surfaces. There are noticeable differences between the Normal, Sport, and Track settings of the chassis control. You can comfortably drive the 570S in crazy Los Angeles traffic or hang the tail out on a track, and in every scenario, the 570S rewards the driver with tons of communication through the steering and chassis, huge levels of grip, and a truly involving experience that inspires confidence from behind the wheel.

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Same bragging rights. Despite a weight penalty of about 100 pounds, the Spider’s performance figures are the same as the Coupe’s. Both cars share 0-60 times of 3.1 seconds and 204-mph top ends, though it’s worth mentioning the Spider only achieves that v-max with the top up (you’ll manage just 196 mph with the top down). The Spider has a slightly redesigned rear spoiler to account for the differences in aerodynamics, and McLaren says the Spider is just as rigid as the Coupe – feels that way from behind the wheel, too. Removing the roof doesn’t affect anything when the car’s structural stiffness is the product of a monocoque carbon fiber tub.

No roof? No problem. Don’t forget, there’s a 3.8-liter biturbo V8 situated behind the cockpit, and with the roof lowered, there’s a wealth of aural delight within earshot. The engine roars and growls, the turbos offering a perfect accompaniment of wooshes and whistles. You should always have the roof open, as far as I’m concerned. Even at highway speeds, air is directed over the top of the cockpit, so it’s never blustery or in your face. There’s a light breeze, the sound of a tremendous V8, and endless headroom and sunshine. Perfect.

Looks just as good. Maybe even better. I don’t know if it’s the Curacao Blue paint, or the instant glamour of a convertible photographed in Southern California, but I totally prefer the look of the 570S Spider over the Coupe. The fixed buttress design out back is really wonderful to behold, and overall, it doesn’t look like the car’s design was compromised just to give the benefit of a Spider experience. The Audi R8 Coupe and Spyder take noticeably different shapes, but with the 570S, you’re getting the same lines and same expression, regardless of body style.

What’s behind me? You sit low in the 570S, and while there’s a commanding view of the road ahead, from other angles, visibility is compromised. Those fixed buttresses make for a huge blind spot over your shoulder. Adjust your mirrors correctly and this isn’t a huge problem. But you’ll still want to merge with extra caution.

Full screen wash-out. This is a small nitpick, but one that’s super annoying. The angle of the touchscreen infotainment system means it’s not shaded from direct sunlight. And with small text and dark colors for the graphics, it’s often difficult to read the screen while driving with the top down. Thank goodness for redundant data in the digital instrument panel. On a sunny day, the center screen is pretty much useless.

First Drive: 2018 McLaren 570S Spider

Another (almost) unforgettable experience in McLaren’s new Sport Series drop top

See all 195 photos

BARCELONA, SPAIN — Sometimes you find that sweet spot when a car and the road or track you’re experiencing it on are a perfect match. Everything flows and you seem smoother, cleaner, and more precise as a driver than ever before, the car dancing to your tune without a heartbeat’s delay. Back in October of 2015, I was in that sweet spot with the McLaren 570S on the Portimao race circuit in Portugal and the roads nearby. Something clicked that day and it was unforgettable.

So surely, then, the new McLaren 570S Spider on sun-baked roads that sweep and roll over Montserrat near Barcelona is pretty much a foregone conclusion? It’s going to be epic, right? Nevertheless, I felt it was my duty as a journalist to be absolutely sure, and duly accepted the editor’s invitation to see if a 570S with its roof removed could possibly be as good in practice as it sounds in theory. There would be no track element this time and the local Policia were, by all accounts, a little trigger happy with their radar equipment, but the 250-mile route over some incredible and varied roads should still reveal all there is to know about this enticing, almost mouth-watering proposition.

First, a bit of context. The Spider is set to become McLaren’s biggest volume seller. It joins the brand’s Sports Series range alongside the aforementioned 570S and the slightly softer and more capacious 570GT. It’s also, like all McLarens, naturally predisposed to make for a hell of a convertible simply because of its carbon fiber chassis, dubbed MonoCell II. So stiff is this central structure that the Spider has zero additional chassis bracing and the steering, suspension, and electronics tune is almost exactly the same as the coupe’s. Changes are limited to «a couple of tweaks to the damper programming» according to Ben Gulliver, McLaren’s head of vehicle development.

See all 195 photos

So the bald numbers go like this: $208,800 (a premium of $20,200 over the coupe), 3,302 lbs (up just 101 lbs) with fluids and 90-percent fuel load, 562 hp at 7,500 rpm and 443 lb-ft at 5,000-6,500 rpm, 0 to 60 mph in 3.1-seconds, and a top speed of 204 mph with the roof up or 196 mph with the retractable hard-top stowed away. In case you’re wondering, that 60 mph time is identical to the coupe and the Spider is only one-tenth slower over the 0-124 mph (200 kph) European yardstick at 9.6 seconds.

In performance terms then, it gives away almost nothing to the coupe and dynamically it should be virtually identical, too. Perhaps the bigger question is whether the 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 will feel more characterful without a carbon-fiber barrier between driver and induction and exhaust.

For the slow crawl through Barcelona, the two-piece roof remains in place and I remind myself what I like about the 570S already: The simple, elegant cabin architecture is as appealing now as it was back in late 2015, but the quality has taken a huge leap forward. The ride, despite the «cheaper» solution of conventional springs, dampers, and anti-roll bars for the Sport Series cars as opposed to the hydraulically-linked ProActive chassis control of the 720S, is also beautifully resolved. It will patter over really broken surfaces but it rarely jars and has a lovely polish to the way it rounds off the worst bumps and lumps. The suspension settings between Normal and Sport modes are pretty close and on the smoother roads we’ll find later, even Track mode is perfectly usable. Whichever setting you choose though, you feel connected to the surface but it’s not dictating the car’s behavior.

Another highlight felt even at little more than walking pace is the steering. McLaren continues to resist electronic power assist steering systems and its faith in hydraulically assisted racks is absolutely justified in the Spider. It positively sings with feedback and the weighting and response feel so natural. It also helps this car to connect with the driver immediately, which in itself marks the Spider out as something special. A sports or supercar should engage you from the moment the wheels roll, and McLaren seems to really understand that now.

See all 195 photos

With the city slowly receding in the rear view mirror it’s time to lose the roof and get closer to that 3.8-liter V-8. The two composite panels stow away in 15 seconds at speeds of up to 25 mph and the glass wind deflector drops to 75 percent of its full height. With the windows up the wind swirls a little but it’s perfectly pleasant even at Policia-worrying speeds. And the noise? There’s plenty of it with our Sports exhaust-equipped car (a $4,090 option). The deep, frenzied blast of hot gases mirrors the simply phenomenal intensity of the acceleration. It’s not a beautiful sound. Even so, as the V-8’s angry voice reflects and bounces it ways up rock faces as the twin-clutch 7-speed gearbox punches in shifts with a wicked ignition crack, you know the 570S Spider is a pretty serious supercar.

Yes, I said supercar. McLaren likes to assert that the Sports Series cars are mere sports cars, but the speed, agility, and focus of the Spider feels pretty damn super. You really do feel the benefits of its lean carbon fiber physique compared to rivals like the R8 because it changes direction so cleanly, rides with such poise and fires along the straights with a real ferocity if you wring the engine right out. But what’s especially impressive is that there’s a delicacy to everything it does. Something like a 911 Turbo S batters a road into submission and makes progress in a series of frantic lunges. By comparison, the 570S Spider glides.

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That almost balletic approach makes you want to be smoother, neater, and better, too. The pedals are perfectly placed to practice left-foot braking. When you try you find that what felt like slightly too long of a pedal travel with your right foot suddenly feels perfect. I love that you can unpeel layers of the 570S Spider’s character and abilities over time like this. It’s one of those cars you know you’d be learning new things about for months, maybe years to come.

My only problem with the 570S Spider is that there’s a slight mismatch between the magic of the chassis and the response of the twin-turbocharged V-8. You want to pour the car down a road, using its agility, mid-corner stability, and carrying speed. So your instinct is to stay in a higher gear and let the car take the strain, but when you do the Spider’s balance disappears on corner exit. You expect instant throttle response — every other control is almost telepathic — but don’t get it as the power comes in relatively slowly. The rear can’t help but steer the car and instead the nose pushes wide.

See all 195 photos

Try a gear lower and the problem remains: You’ve nailed the corner entry thanks to those lovely carbon-ceramics, turned the car in, and felt the grip levels intimately thanks to that feelsome steering. At this point the Spider is balanced, right up on its toes. You spot the road straightening and want to pop out onto it like a champagne cork, but you pin the throttle and not much happens… then, maybe a half-second after you’d wanted it, the power comes in hard but the corner is over and you feel like you only got to enjoy half of it.

Okay, maybe an even lower gear? Yep, that works. There’s still some waiting for the turbos to really start working hard, but now you can use the chassis balance and feel how well calibrated the Dynamic mode for the ESC systems is. It lets you push right to the edge but subtly manipulates the rear back into line should you over commit. Even so, there’s something slightly out of kilter here. The handling allows you to be smooth, measured, and accurate, but the engine demands you absolutely beast it to really maximise the car’s inherent poise.

I keep daydreaming about how special a 570S Spider fitted with an Audi R8 Plus engine might be. Of course, that’s never going to happen. So back in the real world (well, for some people), should you take a 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, R8 V10 Spyder or McLaren 570S Spider? I think the McLaren wins. And by a pretty decent margin.

McLaren

McLaren 570S

McLaren 570S

Pricing
MSRPCA$247,500
FeesCA$7,500
Gas guzzler taxCA$0
Monthly paymentsCA$4,659/month
Powertrain
Engine3.8 l V8
Power562 hp @ 7,500 rpm (419 kW)
Torque443 lb·ft @ 5,000 – 6,500 rpm (601 N·m)
InductionTurbocharged
Fuel typePremium
Transmission7-speed automatic
DrivetrainRWD
Vehicle type / Category
Vehicle typeRoadster
CategorySports Car over $100,000
AssemblyWoking, GB
Generation1
Fuel efficiency / Autonomy
City17.2 L/100km
Highway7.4 L/100km
Combined12.8 L/100km
Autonomy562 km
CO₂ emissions299 g/km
Equipment
Infotainment
Apple CarPlay compatiblenot available
Android Auto compatiblenot available
Steering / Suspension / Brakes / Tires
Steeringrack and pinion with assist
Turning diameter12 m (40′)
Front suspensionindependent, double wishbones
Rear suspensionindependent, double wishbones
Front brakesDisc
Rear brakesDisc
Front tiresP225/35R19
Rear tiresP285/35R20
Safety
Seat belts2
Dimensions / Weight
Length4,530 mm (178″)
Width2,045 mm (81″)
Height1,202 mm (47″)
Wheelbase2,670 mm (105″)
Front track1,673 mm (66″)
Rear track1,618 mm (64″)
Weight1,503 kg (3,314 lb)
Capacities
Passengers2
Trunk150 l (5 cu ft)
Fuel tank72 l (16 gal)
Towing capacityN/A
Performance
Power to weight ratio278.0 W/kg
0-100 km/h3.2 s (manufacturer)
80-120 km/hN/A
Top speed328 km/h (204 mph) (manufacturer)
Braking distance32 m
Warranty
Base warranty3 years/unlimited
Powertrain warranty3 years/unlimited
The Car Guide rating
Fuel economy4/10
ReliabilityN/A
Safety7/10
Infotainment7/10
Driving9/10
Overall9/10
Average83%(view ratings)

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McLaren 570S Spider 2018

McLaren has been growing their portfolio for a few years now; and apparently you can’t be a full-line dealer in exotics, if you don’t offer a convertible, or spider in supercar parlance. So, now they’ve added the open air experience to their sports series with the 570S Spider.

Don’t for a minute think that the 2018 McLaren 570S Spider is just a spur-of-the moment chopped roof version of what was already available. Rather, it is a carefully calculated, integral part of the plan that’s been in place since development for the 570 began. Following the original Sports Series Coupe and GT.

And, this Spider’s open-air experience is truly fantastic; as we all know, wind in your hair heightens the sense of speed, and gets more of your senses involved in the supercar experience.

Things about the minimalist cabin are very familiar, including the central touchscreen that’s full of info. Granted it’s rather small by latest standards, but works quite well.

Mirroring the GT more than the Coupe, means there’s additional storage space, including where the roof panel stores. Now, if you’re familiar with the 650S or 675LT Spiders, the top’s operation is quite similar. Just hit the button, and watch the tonneau raise as the top neatly folds underneath of it. No flimsy cloth setup with this Spider; there’s a real-deal folding hard top. In addition, there’s a power rear glass panel that can be left up to combat wind buffeting.

Hardware is mostly all the same as well, with everything being built around McLaren’s carbon-fiber MonoCell II chassis, but the folding top and accompanying mechanisms do add about 100-lbs. However, no additional structural reinforcements were needed.

The 562-horsepwer and 443 lb-ft. of torque available in the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8, is more than capable of compensating for that; aided by a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. 0-60 is the same as the Coupe at 3.1-seconds.

The suspension keeps ride quality borderline plush, and speed sneaks up on you in a real hurry. Only slight adjustments have been made to the adaptive dampers; not necessarily because it was needed, but because they could.

Like the rest of the McLaren breed, it’s certainly not a car for blending in. It has the presence only true exotics can pull off; from all of the air intakes and vents, to all of the swoops and sways of the sleek body panels. Not to mention when you flip up one of the dihedral doors.

Apart from the folding roof, the overall look is not so different from the Coupe; and only true aficionados will notice that the rear spoiler has been extended by ½ an inch to compensate for the new roof shape.

Much like the GT, the Spider is a McLaren that you don’t need a racetrack to appreciate; it feels much smaller than it is, with a direct steering feel that only a fully hydraulic system can provide.

But more like the Coupe, the standard carbon ceramic brakes feel more track-worthy than street subtle. You really have to put your foot into them, and there’s not much gray area; they’re either full on or full off. And there are various amounts of turbo lag, depending on which drive mode you’re in and how aggressively your throttle inputs are. All of these elements, you might call character rather than flaws.

We don’t often say options are must-haves, but the available sport exhaust system clearly fits that category. It not only opens things up out the back, but pipes additional noise forward into the cabin.

The shifter paddles are plasticy in feel; but they work well, and give you full manual control no matter how poor your decision making is. Government Fuel Economy Ratings aren’t final, but we don’t expect them to differ from the Coupe’s 16-City, 23-Highway, and 19-Combined.

Now, hopefully you haven’t made too many poor decisions when it comes to your finances, as you’ll need $211,300 in reserve to purchase this Spider. That’s about a 20-grand premium, or just a 10% mark-up for 50% more coolness.

Be it a spider or a convertible, they aren’t for everyone, and of course neither are McLarens. But the appeal of this 2018 McLaren 570S Spider is out of this world. The only way you’ll be out-cooled at your next trip to cars and coffee, is if a P1 rolls up next to you. This Spider is McLaren’s best offering yet, and we bet that it’ll quickly become their best-selling model too.

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McLaren 570S Spider 2018 Review

This British supercar delivers effortless pace, intuitive handling and surprisingly comfortable open-top touring

To say the 570S fits in the ‘entry’ series of the McLaren range seems peculiar given its $379,000 asking price – even more so when you consider the $435,750 list price (plus on-road costs) of the 570S Spider tested here. But this is supercar territory, a rarefied and esoteric arena graced by only the finest of scalpel-sharp, powerful machines. In the company of such exclusive metal – or carbon-fibre, as the case may be – the McLaren 570S Spider is perhaps the ultimate paradigm of the breed, combining effortless pace with intuitive handling and surprisingly practicality.

Along came a Spider
The 570S Spider joined the McLaren Sport Series range late last year, giving prospective supercar buyers an open-air option to the 570S coupe – and one with very few compromises.

Here is a car that’s as agile, fast and stylish as its fixed-roof sibling; the only real compromise comes from a $56,750 price premium.

Like the coupe, the 570S Spider focussed heavily on day-to-day liveability and driveability, upping luggage space (150 litres front, 52 litres rear) and interior storage to ‘useful’ levels. Well… useful for a supercar, that is.

The luxe teardrop-shaped cabin remains as personalisable as the coupe’s with upholstery, headlining and trim garnishes galore joining 35 exterior paint colours, 10 alloy wheel options, seven brake-caliper colour choices, 11 optional feature packages, and a 1280-Watt Bowers & Wilkins 12-speaker premium audio system (fitted).

Standard cabin equipment includes manually-adjustable sport seats, hand-stitched leather trim, an electrochromatic rear-view mirror, dual-zone climate control and a heated rear window.

Infotainment and connectivity extends to a 7.0-inch portrait-oriented IRIS touch-screen display hosting AM/FM/DAB radio, Bluetooth audio and telephony, USB interface, reversing camera, sat-nav and 240-Watt four-speaker sound.

The 570S Spider draws much of its styling from the McLaren P1 hypercar, including the all-LED slimline head and tail-lights, open mesh rear valance for engine cooling, flying buttresses, visible engine compartment and ‘floating’ diffuser.

As tested, the ‘Muriwai White’ 2018 McLaren 570S Spider features a range of carbon-fibre styling elements, heated and electrically-adjustable seats, yellow seatbelts and brake callipers, volumetric alarm and nose-lift kit for a total list price of $537,310 (plus on-road costs).

Adding lightness
Contrary to popular perception, convertible versions of high-end supercars are usually heavier than their hard-top siblings.

Apart from structural reinforcements, the additional struts and bracing required to support the opening the roof leaves behind often adds sizeable amounts of weight to these carefully crafted machines, resulting in gentler acceleration times, compromised handling and slower top speeds.

But not the McLaren 570S Spider. Constructed of carbon-fibre technology borne of McLaren’s experience in Formula 1 – making it a claimed 20 times stronger than an equivalent steel body – there’s next-to-no additional stiffening.

The extremely rigid structure provides almost all the strength required to relieve the cavity created for the Spider’s retractable two-piece aluminium hard-top.

In all, the 1359kg dry weight of the 570S Spider is only 46kg heavier than its coupe counterpart; convertible versions of rivals like the Audi R8, Lamborghini Huracan and Porsche 911 add 228kg, 183kg and 166kg respectively to their donor’s chassis.

McLaren’s Carbon Monocell II frame also serves to support the 570S Spider’s trademark dihedral doors which, as well as being stylish, are crafted to guide air over the radiators cooling the all-aluminium 3.8-litre V8, its twin turbochargers and the seven-speed Graziano Trasmissioni ‘seamless shift’ dual-clutch tranny.

Feather-light to open, the Spider’s striking soft-close doors make ingress and egress of the two-seat cockpit an almost effortless exercise, and add to the feeling of exclusivity that a supercar should impart.

A numbers game
As crucial to the supercar ownership experience as the exclusivity, craftsmanship and technology associated with the McLaren name are the astonishing performance and acceleration times laid bare in the brochure.

According to McLaren, the 570S Spider accelerates to 200km/h as quickly (9.6sec) as most mainstream passenger cars hit 100km/h, and breaks triple digits in a physics-defying 3.2sec – as per the coupe – with the aid of launch control.

At full noise the rear/mid-mounted M838TE V8 cranks 419kW (at 7500rpm) and 600Nm (over 5000-6500rpm) to swing the needle past 328km/h with the roof in place, or 315km/h top-down.

McLaren says the 0-400m dash takes just 11.0sec.

Like many of its ilk, the McLaren’s twin-turbo bent-eight never really needs to brush its 8500rpm redline; the insurgence of torque available some 2000rpm earlier more than adequate for traction-challenging starts.

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The 570S Spider sends drive to the rear wheels via sticky 285/35-series 20-inch Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres, and steering and stopping duties are tasked to 225/35-series 19-inch rubber of the same variety.

Perhaps as impressive as the acceleration on offer in the 570S Spider is its deceleration. Mammoth six-piston callipers grasp mega 395mm carbon-ceramic rotors up front with four-pot clamps arresting similarly gargantuan 390mm graphite discs in the rear.

McLaren Brake Steer (or torque vectoring by brake) helps the open differential and adaptive dampers keep the nose in line through corners, the entire package aiding a claimed stopping distance of 32m from 100km/h or 133m from 200km/h.

McLaren continues to offer electro-hydraulically assisted steering in the 570S. Although it’s light, it is transparent enough in its feedback to engage the driver when push comes to shove.

It’s not as talkative as some in this class, but does a great job of eliminating the front-end’s tendency to track and wander over creases in the asphalt, a mannerism many wide-wheeled supercars suffer from.

A liveable supercar?
It takes 11 days to hand-assemble a McLaren 570S Spider from its myriad parts – and that level of dedication is clearly evident in the quality of finish and materials on offer.

Whether it’s the bodywork and paint, the upholstery and trim, or even the attention to detail paid to the inside of its various storage compartments, the standard of workmanship is pretty hard to refute.

It’s also pretty hard to argue with the tenacity of grip from the chassis. Although the 570S doesn’t offer the interlinked Pro Active Chassis Control hydraulic damper system of the Super Series and Ultimate Series McLarens (remember, this is a Sport Series McLaren), its conventional anti-roll bars and three-mode adaptive dampers provide an outstanding ride/handling compromise which – importantly – is adjustable independently from the driveline via the Active Dynamics panel.

Depending on the road, track or simply your mood, the switchable H (Handling) and P (Performance) dials allow three discernibly different modes: Normal, Sport or Track.

The 570S Spider moves from comfortable and quite reserved in its response to throttle inputs – with clean, easy shifts to match – to sharp and eagerly responsive. Full manual mode and stability control off are available at the touch of a button.

Interestingly, despite of a notable change in damping, the ride remains quite comfort focussed. In fact, the only real detractor to the feel behind the wheel comes from the offset pedal box.

The inboard skew of the brake and throttle – owing in no small part to the ingress of the wheel well – makes stop-start driving a chore, and can impinge the accuracy of right-foot braking. The brake pedal stroke itself is also rather brusque, and takes a little muscle to activate effectively.

The only other criticisms stem from an instrument panel that never properly dims – attenuation of contrast is a poor substitute for a dulled screen at night – and a light but nonetheless present buffeting of wind across the top of the head restraints at highway speeds (sans roof, obviously).

Some passengers also felt the exhaust lacked soul at middling speeds, but I think it suits the ‘well-engineered’ premise of the McLaren brand – and sounds terrific when the taps are fully opened.

The verdict
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it really is difficult to review a supercar without descending into hyperbole.

But when you consider the effortless pace, intuitive handling and surprisingly comfortable open-top touring the McLaren 570S Spider offers, it can be hard to not get carried away.

No, it isn’t perfect, as we’ve pointed out; but it is so fantastically capable and strikingly styled that you tend to forgive its trivialities.

For me, the 570S Spider ranks right up there (or perhaps even higher than) the very best of its contemporaries.

If you happen to find yourself with a lazy $537,310 kicking around, I’d strongly recommend a test drive.

How much does a 2018 McLaren 570S Spider cost?
Price: $435,750 (plus on-road costs), $537,310 (as tested, plus ORCs)
Engine: 3.8-litre eight-cylinder twin-turbo-petrol
Output: 419kW/600Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch
Fuel: 10.7L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 249g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety rating: N/A

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