McLaren 12C Spider

We deliver our verdict on the new McLaren 12C Spider, which has finally arrived on British roads

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

There are fast cars, and then there are cars like the McLaren 12C Spider. It feels like it's in a different league to a Porsche 911 or Audi R8 in terms of the way it accelerates and goes around corners. Incredibly, it's just as usable as those models - if not more so - which makes it an excellent car for using every day. Dynamically there are minimal compromises compared with the coupe, and despite the near-£20,000 premium it commands, there's very little to stop you opting for the Spider. Simply put, the 12C Spider is one of the best convertibles ever built.

The McLaren 12C Spider is one of Britain’s most exciting ever supercars, and we’ve finally had the chance to get behind the wheel of it on British soil.

The Spider uses the same carbon-fibre MonoCell chassis as the coupe model, which is so rigid that McLaren didn’t even need to strengthen the chassis when it removed the roof. The result is a car that the British manufacturer is promising feels just like the hardtop from behind the wheel.

You certainly won’t feel the extra 40kg added by the roof mechanism in the way this car accelerates. McLaren puts the 0-62mph time at 3.1 seconds – identical to the standard 12C – and the experience of getting up to that speed is unlike anything else on the road.

There’s an initial kick of acceleration as soon as you press the throttle, followed by an additional blast from the turbos in the mid-range, and then as you hit the outer edge of the rev counter and begin to think you can’t possibly accelerate any quicker, it hits you again. That all helps explain the 12C Spider’s scarcely believable 0-100mph time of 6.1 seconds.

Those incredible performance figures can be traced back to the Spider’s powertrain, which it shares with the coupe. It’s a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8, producing 616bhp, paired with an excellent seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox. The latter feels happy enough short-shifting up to seventh on a gentle cruise, or instantly banging through the gears during a hard-charging blast.

A cause for complaint has been the 12C’s engine noise, but the Spider’s is certainly the best McLaren currently offers. In isolation you’d call it spectacular, with a little turbo chirrup as you let off the throttle and a metallic growl, a rising whoosh and an explosion of pops and bangs on every full-throttle upshift. Compare it to the Ferrari 458 Spider, though, and you’ll have to concede the Ferrari’s high-pitched howl to be the most impressive.

With the retractable hard-top roof in place, everything is a little more muted but you can simply wind down the rear windscreen to hear more from the vocal V8. It’s best with the roof fully down, though, and that’s a process that takes just 17 seconds.

Just like on the coupe, McLaren gives drivers the choice of switching the handling and powertrain between Normal, Sport and Track settings. No matter which combination you pick, the 12C feels seriously impressive. The steering is fast and so natural to use that it quickly becomes second nature.

On our road drive the 12C excelled in every type of corner we could find, almost without body roll and showcasing huge amounts of grip. You really need to take to a track before you could find the 12C’s limits.

But it’s worth mentioning just how fantastic the 12C is on the road because of its usability. You really can just hop in and drive the Spider like any other car. It even rides incredibly well, not once crashing or thudding over bumps during our time with it.

The price for all all this is £195,500, which is £19,500 more than the coupe. It’s a big increase but one that McLaren should have no problem justifying, especially considering this is one of the most exhilarating convertibles ever made. 

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