Virtually everything McLaren offers right now will stand out from the competition.
We’re more than a half decade into McLaren’s return into the supercar market, the one that debuted for 2012 with the MP4-12C – a car that is very much still relevant to the brand and the supercar landscape as we know it today. The 570S is a current offering in the British automaker’s Sport Series, sitting alongside the 570GT and the 540C. These are cars that focus strictly on driver engagement, doing away with the artificial concept of “feel” in favour of what really matters – the driving experience. This year, a retractable hardtop variant has been added to the Sport Series, and we were handed the keys to a 2018 McLaren 570S Spider Launch Edition for a few days.
Starting at a reasonable (for the segment!) $247,500, the 570S Spider really is a thing of beauty. And no, this isn’t one of those cars that you either love or you hate – we found it simply impossible to keep the Spider away from onlookers during our test period. The Muriwai White paint is a stunning shade, appearing almost like a robin’s egg blue in the right light, and it’s one that was complimented many times. The car’s striking lines are shared with the fixed-roof 570S (reviewed here), and this rather conservative design is one that will likely pass the test of time and age gracefully.
What a machine – sitting directly behind the driver is a twin-turbocharged 32-valve 3.8L V8, one that McLaren has squeezed 562 horsepower out of. Peak horsepower comes in at 7,500RPM and the car also pushes 443 lb-ft. of torque at 5,000RPM. It’s a flat-plane crank V8, too, which makes things even more special. This car is scary levels of fast, and has a launch mode that will help it pull a standing quarter mile in 10.8 seconds flat. And this is the slower one – the 720S does this feat in just 10.4 seconds! We weren’t able to do any instrumented testing, but McLaren claims a 0-100km/h time of just about three seconds.
Power is sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, one that has the nicest paddle-shift system we have experienced in a very long time. It’s a single paddle that wraps behind the steering wheel, one that can be pulled or pushed to snap off shifts perfectly. An “Active Dynamics Panel” can alter the powertrain and handling between “Normal”, “Sport”, and “Track”. It must first be activated using an “Active” button, and two toggle switches alter the car’s behaviour to the driver’s liking.
One of the traits that help the 570S stand out from other supercars is the hydraulic power steering. Every little bit of feel from the road is transmitted directly to the driver’s fingers, and the carbon-fiber structure of the car helps significantly with this. There is no fake feel or electronic artificiality here; the engagement this car delivers is a rare trait in today’s automotive market and one that we genuinely appreciate. As a result, the 570S Spider corners with immense amounts of confidence and precision; a no-nonsense experience.
A retractable hardtop assembly gives 570S buyers the open-top experience that many crave, and McLaren claims this system adds 101 pounds over the coupé. The top takes about 15 seconds to operate, and can be done at speeds of up to 40km/h. It’s sleek in operation, and subjectively, the stunning aesthetics of the coupé haven’t been compromised at all on the Spider, whether the top is in place or not. A small button on the simplistic center console powers the rear glass window, and on chillier nights, a semi-open experience can be achieved with this window and the side windows opened.
We didn’t experience too many quirks with the 570S Spider, and features like a nose-lift system help it along for those days when you want to commute to work in your supercar. On the downside though, the power seat controls are awkward to a point of unusable. It took us having to consult the owner’s manual to figure out how to achieve a proper driving position. At least once you know how to do it, this quirk quickly gets forgotten about. The 7” infotainment touchscreen is easy to use and very responsive, but becomes very difficult to see when wearing polarized sunglasses.
As mentioned, the 570S Spider starts at $247,500, which is nearly $30,000 more than the $219,750 base price of the coupé. Our test vehicle had many options, including a $7,300 carbon fiber interior, $13,500 carbon fiber exterior package, $4,470 sport exhaust, $3,560 lightweight forged wheels, $2,490 Bowers & Wilkins audio system, $1,700 for the nose lift package, $7,610 carbon fiber tonneau, and much more. The sticker before fees, freight and PDI came to $306,730. Granted, the price will vary considerably depending on what options are selected, but it is very possible to get a well-spec’d car for about $275,000.
There are many reasons why the 570S Spider, and virtually everything McLaren offers right now will stand out from the competition. I’ve been known to tout that the current crop of supercars just doesn’t evoke the same sort of driving passion and enthusiasm that their predecessors did. McLaren is the one brand that is a straight exception to this. After spending a few days with the 2018 McLaren 570S Spider Launch Edition, it becomes crystal clear that this is a brand that cares about the driver’s involvement rather than letting actual engagement take a sidebar to aesthetics. As such, this is a car that is incredibly special now, and will forever remain very close to my heart.