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2018 McLaren 570S Spider: A Convertible But Not Really

McLaren calls their new 570S Spider “a convertible without compromise.” And sure, that’s just what you’d expect them to say, but convertibles inherently have many engineering compromises. That’s not to say the 570S is not a good car. It is. It is a very good car indeed.

Besides a drop top, what does the McLaren 570S Spider bring to the table?

Waxing Poetics

For starters, the 570S Spider is, to my eyes, not really a convertible. It’s sort of more than a targa, but also less than a full on convertible. It has those headrest/roll-over/buttress structures you see on a lot of hard top convertibles these days. Obviously, due more to concerns of the legal department than the design gurus. I understand why they are there, from the perspective of you don’t want a person rich enough to buy one of your cars potentially getting injured; if they can drop this kind of cash on a car, just think of the legal team they must have.

But for me, it sort of ruins the look and I would be fine if those structures were not there.

So, you get a much more open air feel than a targa set up, but not as much as you would on, say, an old Austin-Healey. Such is the state of things. The 570S Spider is hand-assembled in the unfortunate town of Woking, England, home of McLaren. It’s mainly made of carbon fiber, has a mid-engined layout, and boasts extreme performance. McLaren says the 570S Spider is the third body style in the Sports Series portfolio, lining up alongside the 570S Coupe and the 570GT, but I thought there was also a 570LT out there? I could be mistaken?

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McLaren’s new Spider employs a racecar-style, double-wishbone suspension with steel springs, twin-valve adaptive dampers, and anti-roll bars calibrated to the same specifications as the 570S Coupe. Photo: McLaren Automotive.

Structured Performance

The two-piece retractable roof on the Spider is constructed of lightweight composite panels, just like the rest of the bodywork. All of this is attached to the carbon fiber MonoCell II chassis at the heart of the 570S. McLaren says the Spider does not suffer any reduction in strength or stiffness or – and this is the impressive part – require any additional structural actions. Usually when you lop the top off of a car, things get floppy. It’s like taking the lid off of a shoe box. All of a sudden you can flex it and twist it a lot more (twisting and flexing fall on “The List of Bad Things Sports Cars Should Never, Ever, Do”). The fact McLaren can make a drop top that needs no additional stiffening from steel or aluminum structures speaks to their overall talent in chassis design.

The top is worked from the driver’s seat using one simple button that folds the roof and stows it beneath a hard tonneau cover. The roof can be opened or closed in just 15 seconds, at speeds up to 25 mph and, take if from me, that is so cool! Some cars with automatic tops these days, you have to be stopped dead or you can’t raise or lower it. Ugh! There’s nothing like pulling onto the street from the local burger joint and, while slowly cruising, dropping the top. There is a glass wind deflector that can, thankfully, be electrically raised or lowered at the push of a button. I know, these things keep you from getting your hair mussed, but what did you buy a convert for? Wear a hat. More wind please. McLaren also adds this odd bit of tech: “an optional sports system that features an ESG to channel exhaust sound towards the cabin, via the area beneath the tonneau cover.”

Which is nice, but also kind of odd, don’t you think?

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Three new exterior colors celebrate the Spider’s introduction: Curacao Blue, Vega Blue, and Sicilian Yellow give customers a choice of 20 colors in total. The new hues showcase the aluminium bodywork and dihedral doors, particularly when combined with an optional Dark Palladium grey finish on the roof, windscreen pillars, and rear buttresses. Photo: McLaren Automotive.

Power Specs

And now, the bad news: The retractable hardtop with its operating mechanism adds 101 pounds to the weight of the Spider over the 570S Coupe. Gah! Extra weight! Bad! Evil! Bad! It’s like carrying around an invisible ballerina. Sigh.

I suppose all that extra weight is offset by the 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 engine nestled amidships. Said plant cranks out 562 horsepower and 443 lb-ft. of torque, giving the new 570S Spider an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 413 horsepower-per-tonne. The lump is mated to a seven-speed seamless-shift gearbox with Launch Control technology. Bottom line: standstill to 60 in 3.1 seconds, on up to 124 mph in just 9.6 seconds. Top speed is 204 mph with the roof up, which is identical to the 570S Coupe vMax. With the roof lowered the new Spider can still haul the mail, topping out at 196 mph. In case you’re strangely interested in this sort of thing, the 570S Spider gets 16 city, 23 highway, and 19 mpg combined.

The McLaren 570S Spider is available to order now, priced from $208,800 and will make its world debut at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, June 29th through July 2nd. Hopefully wearing a nice shiny coat of Papaya Orange paint.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

2018 McLaren 570S Spider Gallery

Photos & Source: McLaren Automotive.