What Car? says...
Looking at the specifications of the McLaren 570S Spider, it's clear that this is a car that can bring the fight to open-top rivals such as the Audi R8 Spyder, Ferrari 488 Spider and Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet, with a big V8 petrol engine, a top speed on the naughty side of 200mph and a blistering 0-62mph sprint time of 3.2sec.
As its name suggests, the 570S Spider is a convertible version of the 570S Coupé. It is, in fact, the third model in McLaren’s 570 family, which also includes the luxury-oriented 570GT grand tourer. And, because there’s no open-top version of the lesser 540C, it’s also the most affordable convertible McLaren.
Naturally, the 570S Spider is quick, but it also needs to be engaging and rewarding for drivers of all abilities. And in keeping with the current crop of civilized supercars, which are easy to live with, comfortable and, whether you’re driving on road or track, offer reasonable space for your luggage.
The 570S Spider faces a tough challenge, then. Over the next few pages we’ll tell you what it’s like to drive, how it compares to its rivals and whether you should buy one.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Powering the 570S Spider is the same twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 petrol engine that's used find in the Coupé and GT. It produces a heady 562bhp and can propel the 570S Spider from 0-62mph in just 3.2sec and on to a top speed of 204mph. You might imagine that with such an impressive set of statistics, the 570S Spider would be a handful to drive. In fact, it's quite the contrary, being incredibly easy to drive yet exceptionally rewarding in equal measure.
Take the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, for instance. In automatic mode, it does a great job of transmitting the engine’s immense thrust smoothly, while if you take control manually using the steering-wheel mounted paddles, it flits between the gears rapidly, letting you make full use of the engine’s capabilities.
And what an engine it is. You’ll need to be on a track to fully explore its potential, but even at urban speeds it sounds fantastic – a sensation only enhanced by dropping the roof. That said, for the best sound around town, nothing beats the V10-engined R8 Spyder.
McLaren’s standard-fit active driving dynamics system helps, too, allowing you to tailor the car’s suspension for different environments. We found it best to leave the car in Comfort mode during everyday use, while Sport firms things up if you’d prefer. As its name suggests, Track mode is better suited to chasing lap times.
The 570S Spider's steering is arguably a tad heavy around town, but it weights up beautifully at speed. It offers bundles of feedback, keeping you fed with information from the front tyres about the grip available, and utterly immerses you in the thrill of stroking the car from one corner to the next.
The interior layout, fit and finish
You sit low inside the 570S Spider, fitting perfectly with the car’s performance intent and making it feel special from the moment you climb in. It’s comfortable, too, with plenty of adjustment both to the steering wheel and the supportive driver’s seat. Visibility is also good thanks to slim carbonfibre door pillars, which is handy when it comes to parking such a low, wide sports car.
The interior layout is identical to that of the 570S Coupé. You get a customisable screen in place of conventional instrument dials, plenty of high-end leather or soft-touch plastic on all the surfaces you’re likely to touch, and McLaren’s 7.0in Iris infotainment touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. Just as we’ve found in the Coupé, this system works fairly well, but its small icons can be difficult to hit on the move. Its graphics and menus aren’t quite as polished as the Audi MMI system in the R8 Spyder, either.
The major differences inside the 570S Spider are the two small buttons on the centre console. The first raises or lowers the hardtop roof, which takes 15sec and can be operated while you're driving at speeds of up to 25mph. The second button operates a wind deflector that helps to keep your hairdo intact at speed. When the roof is down, it’s stored under a stylish tonneau cover at the rear of the car.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
In the past, we’ve criticized the more powerful McLaren 650S for its high door sills, which you need to heave yourself up and over before getting inside. The 570S's sills are substantially lower, so getting in and out is a lot easier and, most importantly, more dignified.
Once you’re in, head room is good, even with the roof up, and there’s plenty leg room. Considering this is a supercar, the interior is pretty wide, too, so you won’t feel like you're too close to your passenger.
There’s a surprising amount of storage space spread across two boots – there's more space in the nose alone than you’ll find in the 911 Cabriolet or R8 Spyder, for example. With the roof up, you can easily store a couple of overnight bags behind the rear seats – just don’t pack too heavily for the Riviera.
Odds-and-ends storage is taken care of by two small bins in either door, a large cubbyhole at the base of the dashboard, a small stowage space under the centre armrest and a reasonably sized glovebox.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Cars like the 570S Spider are bought with the heart rather than the head, and the truth is that anyone in the market for one probably won’t think twice about its eye-watering running costs – claimed combined fuel economy stands at just 26.6mpg and CO2 emissions are 249g/km.
Most buyers are likely to buy the 570S Spider on a PCP finance deal rather than with cash, and since the car’s residuals are expected to be strong, you could conceivably end up paying less per month than you would for its rivals.
You get plenty of equipment as standard, including climate control, leather seats and the 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity. It’s a little annoying, though, that at this level you still have to pay extra for a reversing camera and parking sensors. These come as part of a security pack that also includes a handy nose-lifting function to get you over taller speed bumps without damaging the underside of the car.