► CAR's 570S Spider drive
► Yours for £165k
► 562bhp, 3.2sec 0-62mph
‘All the high-performance dynamic attributes and refinement of 570S Coupe with the added exhilaration of open-air driving’. So goes McLaren’s opening gambit for its new 570S Spider.
It’s the fourth variant to join the Woking firm’s entry-level Sports Series, and the most expensive of the range at £164,750, up from £145,305 for the Coupe on which it’s based.
So it’s not heavier, floppier, slower and noisier than the Coupe?
Not really. The key is the MonoCell II, McLaren-speak (Ron-speak RIP) for the cabonfibre passenger cell that sits at the core of the Sports Series line-up. Its strength and stiffness, says McLaren, means the car loses no torsional rigidity when you chop off the roof, as metal structures do.
That creates a virtuous circle: with no extra bracing required, the Spider weighs almost the same (we’ll get to that in a minute) as the Coupe, handles just as deftly (so the chassis settings can be left unchanged), and accelerates with equal ferocity.
The ‘refinement’ bit is down to the electrically controlled two-piece retractable hardtop, which, as the name suggests, is much more comparable to a conventional coupe roof when closed. Fabric roofs can still offer very high refinement, though, as the people from Bentley will point out.
There is a small weight gain of 46kg to 1498kg (including fluids), but that’s all down to the new composite roof and its electric mechanism. For context, the Audi R8 V10 Spyder –significantly cheaper at £132k – increases by 125kg over the coupe version, a 911 Turbo Convertible by 70kg. Both those rivals use steel and aluminium structures with a fabric roof.
What’ll she do?
The 570S Spider uses the same mid-mounted, 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 allied to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox as other Sports Series, with the same 562bhp and 443lb ft. The weight saving pays dividends again, as the 0-62mph in a claimed 3.2sec with a 204mph are identical to the Coupe, though you’ll only manage 196mph with the top removed. The 0-124mph time drops a tenth to 9.6sec.
I’d probably put the roof up before 196mph…
Us too. Unfortunately, you can’t close the roof at 196mph to eke out those final few mph, but it will raise and lower in 15 seconds at speeds up to 25mph – which is handy, because some convertibles force you to stop.
It’s a neat design, one that uses the same mechanism as 650S/675LT Super Series models. The two-piece roof folds up as it lifts away from the header rail, before tucking away neatly beneath the tonneau cover to leave a pair of roadster pods tapering back behind occupants’ heads.
The ‘flying buttress’ design seen on the Coupe – where air is flowed through the D pillars to assist aerodynamics – disappears, so the Spider’s rear spoiler grows taller by 12mm to compensate. The entire upper structure can be finished in contrasting black, and very good it looks too.
An electric window between the pods can be raised or lowered with either the roof up or down – the aim is to reduce cabin air disturbance when it’s raised and the roof is lowered, or allow more engine noise and air in to the cabin when the roof is closed, just as on Super Series models. It doesn’t quite work like that - with the glass raised, you actually hear the flutter of additional air disturbance, so the cabin feels calmer when it’s lowered. Much better to use it as an extra window when the roof is raised.
Roof up, refinement is as impressive as promised, and you’ll find an extra 52 litres of extra stowage beneath the tonneau cover – which does, however, prevent the roof from being opened.
What’s it like inside?
A leather interior is standard (seats, door casings, dash, centre console), as are six-way adjustable seats. Nappa leather or Alcantara, plus eight-way adjustable seats and carbon-fibre-shelled buckets from the P1 are also available at extra cost. Our car got one of the ‘By McLaren’ optional interior upgrades. With Natural Tan and Carbon Black leather it looked pretty lovely, but does add a further £2.5k to the sticker.
As ever, you get the 10-inch TFT instrument cluster, and the 7-inch IRIS infotainment. The latter does suffer from sun glare with the roof down – good job you can also display navigation instructions in the dash.
The seats are a bit firm and could offer more under-thigh support for taller drivers, but they’re nice and low, and grip you snugly round the waist. The electric seat controls included in our luxury pack are hard to access because they’re squeezed between the side of the seat and centre console, and aren’t the most unintuitive to operate. Those optional, manual bucket seats are a tempting prospect.
What’s the 570S Spider like to drive?
Pretty heavenly. The hydraulic steering is stand-out brilliant, with natural weighting, swift but not nervous responses and high-definition feel. On standard – and pretty aggressive – P Zero Corsa tyres, grip is fantastic, and the front end bites and pivots into corners even at very high speeds with very little roll.
Push too far and you might find a little understeer, but, in the dry, really that’s a last resort to save us all from over-ambitiousness. The stability systems feel almost too keen to rein the back end in as the default setting, but you can progressively slacken them off.
Carbon-ceramic brakes are standard, and wipe off speed pretty ruthlessly, but there’s a lack of definition to the pedal, a bit too much mush that makes pedal modulation harder than it should be. Strangely, a couple of the cars on the launch sometimes proved reluctant to start their engines unless you REALLY pressed the brake pedal.
The ride is sublimely compliant, and body control excellent. Sport mode tightens things up a bit more, but still feels pretty absorbent on admittedly smooth Spanish test roads. You can, of course, go all the way to Track, but we’d save that for you know where. There is not a hint of the slop or shake that sometimes afflicts convertibles, just a feeling of perfect purity, composure and directness. It’s such a tactile, nimble feeling car, even at low speed.
Performance is predictably strong and exciting as it hauls with increasing intensity to the redline, but there’s a small delay to every input, and you’ll need 3500rpm on the dial to wave goodbye to turbo lag. Our car got the £3370 sports exhaust, which makes for an improvement over the rather industrial, uninspiring standard system we last experienced on the Coupe, but it remains quite a gruff, if purposeful, sound.
The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox fires home multiple changes very quickly to lend a sense of mechanical immediacy, though the calibration can occasionally jar – even in the most laid-back Normal setting, the transmission can hold a lower gear at relatively high revs on part throttle in a straight line.
As McLaren promises, the 570S Spider feels equally as exciting and refined to drive as the Coupe, but adds the extra dimension of top-down driving. Other than an increase in price, there are no real drawbacks, only added benefits. A few areas would benefit from a little more fairy dust, but ultimately the 570S Spider is an incredibly accomplished and exciting sports car, one that’s closer to five stars than four.
Check out our review of the new McLaren 720S here