McLaren’s dynamic drop-top… 570S Spider has lost a roof, but it retains every bit of the Coupé’s driving appeal – and it sounds even better, too. Words Steve Sutcliffe. #McLaren-570S-Spider
Convertibles have come a long way in the past 15 or so years, and today many are referred to as Spiders, or Spyders. McLaren’s new £164,000 570S Spider is the most recent addition to such ranks – and, having driven it on some of Europe’s best roads, Octane is prepared to stick its neck out and declare this particular arachnid to be one of the very best, if not the best. But not necessarily the most scary.
As a starting point, the 570S Coupé is hardly lacking in brilliance, or visceral appeal. At its core sits a carbonfibre tub, with a twin-turbo V8 and seven-speed dual-clutch box mounted behind the driver but well ahead of the rear axle. What separates the McLaren from all its key open-top rivals (think Lamborghini Huracán, Porsche 911 turbo 991, Ferrari 488 and Audi R8) is that there’s precisely zero difference in structural rigidity between coupé and drop-top versions. This is due to the way the 570S’s carbon tub has been designed. Right from the word go, this car was engineered to be both a coupé and a convertible, and because the roof has zero strengthening, the loss of said panel makes no difference to the car’s core integrity. You can feel as much the moment the 570S Spider starts to move. It feels absolutely identical to the Coupé in its ride, steering, handling, braking and acceleration – because, McLaren says, it is identical to its stablemate in every aspect of its dynamic behaviour.
So, just as the Coupé 570S will sprint from 0-60mph in 3.2sec and hit 204mph flat-out, so will the Spider. It’ll even do 196mph with the roof down, claims McLaren, thanks to a nifty reworking of its rear end to achieve all-but-identical aerodynamic qualities.
But there is one big difference between the Coupé and Spider versions of the 570S. When you drop the latter’s roof and give it some beans, the noise that comes back at you from behind is five times louder and six times more exciting. And maybe the absolute best way to drive the Spider is with the glass aero-screen behind the seats dropped and the roof raised. That way, you can really appreciate the range and complexity of the sounds that emanate from the V8 in a way you never can in the Coupé. As a bonus, a new, small luggage area behind the seats means the Spider is not only more entertaining to listen to than its brother, but it’s rather more practical as well.
On the move the newcomer genuinely drives just as well as the Coupé, with razor-precise handling, ferocious acceleration, lovely steering and great braking power and feel. However, it’s the noise that really gets you; it convinces you this model must be the better of the two overall. That’s why McLaren expects at least 50% of all 570 sales from now on to be Spiders. And why all 400 of the first batch have already sold out.
Above and below 570S Spider is as good as top-down motoring gets, with coupé-like dynamics and an awesome roar from its V8.