The performance figures on paper remain largely identical to those of the coupe: the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 pumps out 562bhp and 443lb ft of torque to the rear wheels via a seven-speed auto. Its acceleration and top speed are the same: 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds and top speed of 204mph, although, with the roof down, it’s a whole 8mph slower: ha! Knew we’d find a compromise…
Our test car in Spain had a couple of minor blemishes, which we’ll get out of the way to get onto the good stuff, of which there’s plenty. A few of us had problems starting the Spider: that moment when it tells you to depress the brake pedal then push the button? Nothing happened. For a long time and many tries; key in hand, key in pocket. Lock, unlock the car… something to do with the brake pedal we surmised after the two biggest blokes on the launch really stamped on it.
Secondly, the transmission. Whether in “N”, “P” or “T” settings, it held onto the gears for too long, on up and down changes. Oh, and the brake travel feels a little lacking in definition: they’re carbon ceramics, and we got them good and warm round the hilly route, but they felt like blunt stopping instruments which jarred with the rest of the car’s character. These are things I didn’t notice on the 570S coupe; perhaps we had a couple of early rogue cars.
But the good stuff. My, a McLaren chassis is an engineering marvel for Bruce to be proud of. Taut, supple, delicate, precise, clever.. it flatters the driver into ever more seat-of-the-pants moves, which can cause problems. Luckily, McLaren drivers tend to be a sensible, clever bunch of discerning drivers who know their limits. And the steering… pin-sharp, sensitive, the wheel jiggling in your hands as the tyres bump and turn over broken surfaces. Thankfully McLaren has stuck resolutely with a hydraulic system.