With the roof raised, the driving experience is indistinguishable from that of the coupé.
Make no mistake: this is a great achievement – and possibly unique – and a great selling point for the 720S Spider. No comparable outdoor machine has the same steering precision or immediate body control, which combine to make impressive direction changes. In less than perfect conditions, youll get a little understeer in the slowest corners, but the Spider usually turns around the corners with precision, safety and a phenomenal feel at the front. So, there are no changes.
A novelty in the Spider is the arear windscreen that falls into the firewall between the engine compartment and the cab, the roof is still in place, something you cant do in the coupe. Its a beautiful piece of theater. Not only will you become familiar with McLarens 4.0 litre turbocharged V8 – which is at least brutally noisy close to an 8,500 rpm red line and more flamboyant than ever in its clearly pneumatic and breathable form – but also the lake of heat that accumulates above the carbon engine cover reaches the cockpit every time the brakes are applied with force. You literally bathe in this engine.
Sophisticated? Not especially, but for a car that generally strives to involve its driver on an emotional level, the trick works.
And then you lower the roof. From here, the 720S Spider stops looking simply terrifyingly fast and starts to look incomprehensible… To get the full effect, all the windows are wound and the powertrain slides in Track mode, at which point the short exhaust emits an uncomfortable burst of noise with each almost instantaneous gear shift of the seven-speed double-clutch transmission. The feeling of chaos created by 710 bhp and 568 lbp, the whirlwind inside the cab and the speed at which the landscape slides is accompanied by quiet, clinical handling. It is a strange but pleasant juxtaposition.
The chassis is crucial to the satisfaction of driving this car, and to enjoy it. At speed, the ride is so good that you just stop thinking about it, and since the 720S Spider will swallow 20 mph increments in less than two seconds at full speed, thats exactly how youd like it. The lack of swing is surprising, in fact, and partly thanks to McLarens efforts to adjust the engine 10 cm lower than the old 650S, but its the way the movements are suppressed so quickly and skillfully that it takes your breath away. Centrally-engined supercars often run with more agility than expected because, with less weight to bear on the axles, spring speeds can be re-marked, but even so, the 720S Spider is sometimes hypnotizingly flexible.