2018 McLaren 570S Spider First Drive

Posted on Jul 25 2017 - 2:18am by Jeff Dunham

The McLaren 570S Spider is madness. Not the car itself, which is a cogent convertible design based on the already handsome coupe. What is crazy is that a 562-horsepower machine that hammers to 62 mph in 3.2 seconds is only considered a sort-of, kind-of supercar. The Spider will be McLaren’s volume model in its lowest-priced, lowest-tier Sports Series designation. As such, it is the company’s starter supercar.

2018 McLaren 570S Spider

Should you have $208,800 in your Venmo account, you won’t give up anything except that fixed roof. There’s no perceivable performance demerit when it comes to this retractable hardtop, as it was developed alongside the regular 570S from the onset. The 0-to-60 time is a non-discernable one-tenth of a second slower, and it still gets to a 204-mph top speed when the roof is up. If you insist on a top-velocity hurtle with wind bathing the cabin, it would only limit you by 8 mph.

Our test car was outfitted in a new hue, a deep Vega blue, with a dark finish on the roof and body accents. The Spider retains the same roofline as the hardtop and it is instantly recognizable as a variation. McLaren has finally settled into its own design language, with highly identifiable rear tail lamps and those unique 3D “tendon” doors first seen on the 570S coupe and which have now migrated to the 720S. It’s an architectural-leaning language that translates beautifully into a roadster.

With the top down, the Spider gets more attention than the coupe, and perhaps even more than the 720S, which I tested recently in Rome. Perhaps people simply feel drop-tops are especially exotic. Around the summer bustle of Barcelona, kids jumped up and down and attractive women on scooters gave us the thumbs up. There’s worse places to be noticed. The top goes down in a snappy 19 seconds at speeds of up to 25 mph.

As for the question of coupe versus convertible, my ass-o-meter couldn’t discern a handling difference, and I’m decently keyed into what’s going on underneath me. In most ways, the top-down Spider simply enhances the experience. The aural extravaganza blossoms behind your head and you get a more visceral sense of speed and the roads – and the occasional whiff of flowers or cow shit, too.

But the very best thing is the 570S’s mortal nature. This is no race car for the road, which you could never hope to exploit. Rather, the McLaren is fit for real-world enthusiasts who drive in the real world. You don’t need an extra 200 horses. In the right setting, you can get 8/10ths from the 570S and still know that your talent will run out before the car does.

In this sense, I like it even better than the 720S. That car has the hydraulic suspension and 710 hp, and it is a handful under full throttle on a legal street. Frankly, it’s a handful on a racetrack, best approached studiously and conscientiously.

In comparison, the 570S is carefree and insouciant. A starter supercar? Hardly. But definitely one geared to taste the wind.