New McLaren 765LT Spider 2021 review

There’s far more to this open-top McLaren 765LT Spider supercar than simply chopping off the coupe’s roof

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Verdict

The 765LT Spider could well be the best road car yet from McLaren’s modern back catalogue. It combines all the elements that make the 765LT Coupe such a powerhouse, then adds extra driver appeal and a brilliant new folding hard-top to form a package that’s hard to fault and very easy to be blown away by – even at a whopping £310,500. But for this outlay you do get exclusivity, and at this level, that counts for a lot.

Given that all 765 examples sold out within minutes of their announcement, McLaren must have been tempted to play it simple with the £310,500 765 LT Spider. In other words, to grab the money and run.

Woking’s engineers could have quite easily installed the excellent folding hard-top roof system from the 720S Spider into the 765LT Coupe, and basically left it at that.

The resulting car would still have been very good, and all 765 examples would still have sold out. But in the event McLaren went an awful lot further than it probably needed to with the “Longtail” 765 Spider, equipping it with a new titanium exhaust, new suspension settings, a revised steering rack and a range of styling and aerodynamic upgrades to make it look different, sound better, and drive even more sweetly. And the result is probably the best-driving road car McLaren has produced. Ever.

The Spider is every bit as nutcase fast as the Coupe, yet it’s also a more usable car. Plus, with a superb new electric hard-top, it unquestionably has a broader appeal, yet is not the least bit compromised dynamically.

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In a straight line there’s not much difference between Coupe and Spider. Both are melon-twistingly rapid. True, the Spider weighs a touch more, but its twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 still produces enough power and torque to fire it to 62mph in just 2.7 seconds and on to 124mph in a staggering 7.2 seconds.

What the numbers don’t tell you, however, is how much naughtier the Spider sounds when you unleash it, yet this is only partially because you can drop the roof and get that much closer to the source. The main reason is the Spider’s new exhaust, one that addresses arguably the only real issue with the Coupe: the sound. The new car emits a range of noises that can make grown-up people go weak at the knees momentarily.

But in the end it’s the extra precision and civility of the chassis and steering that distinguish the Spider. The dampers have been softened a touch, as have the rear springs. The steering rack is a fraction less manic in its responses, especially noticeable just off centre, so basically on turn-in. Even the aerodynamics have been preened to account for the fact that the Spider has a different centre of gravity due to its roof, which is why the rear wing also deploys in a different way under braking.

The aim has been to soften the Spider’s responses a touch, and to make it a more rounded car to drive, without blunting its dynamic edge in any way. In reality the engineers have hit the sweet spot more accurately with the Spider by being able to develop it for that much longer, having learned important lessons from the Coupe.

The result is a version that rides better on the road, steers more sweetly everywhere, feels generally less hyper in its responses, and – whisper this – is also as quick.

The fact that the cabin has also been brilliantly engineered to make it feel like a full-blown coupe with the hood up, or a true convertible with it down, suffering from almost zero wind buffeting at motorway speeds, just adds to the Spider’s appeal.

As does the fact that McLaren’s build quality continues to improve, if the test cars we drove are typical, to a point where excuses are no longer required in this area.

Model:McLaren 765LT Spider
Price:£310,500
Engine:4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power/torque:755bhp/800Nm
Transmission:Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive 
0-62mph:2.7 seconds
Top speed:205mph
Economy:23.0mpg
CO2:280g/km
On saleNow

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