Audi isn’t the only one with news of a new and very fast open top supercar. They even adopt similar names. The difference here, at least one the main ones, is that the new McLaren 570S Spider uses a retractable hard top instead of the R8 Spyder V10 Plus’ soft roof.
The divergence in the way they shift from an insulated cabin to one that’s open-air also informs exactly how much of the outdoors is exposed to the passengers. Where Audi’s implementation means there’s more room to spread out, the fixed buttresses on the McLaren does make the argument that it’s actually more of a targa top instead of a full convertible.
Besides the roof mechanism (which takes 15 seconds to retract or deploy at up to 40km/h), the new addition to their Sport Series is otherwise an identical product to their 570S coupe. We wonder, then, if McLaren is planning a 570GT Spider as the (slightly) more relaxed open-top experience is seemingly more suited to the GT’s leaning toward comfort, comfort, and everyday driving.
Mounted amidship is the staple M838T 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine, mirroring the 419kW and 600Nm output of the 2015 hardtop version. It drives the rear wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission developed by Graziano and is capable of accelerating to 100km/h from a standstill in 3.2 seconds, topping out at 315km/h.
Those performance numbers, impressively, are identical to the 570S despite the Spider weighing an additional 46kg relative to the coupe thanks to a very rigid structure made possible by the carbon fibre shell. In fact, McLaren says that the loss of a fixed roof hasn’t effected one iota of structural flex - or lack thereof.
Of course, the Spider carries with it a certain price premium over the coupe, and it’s available for order now in their home market of the UK for £164,750 (approximately $277,000 Aussie Dollars). McLaren themselves figure this is enough to call the 570S Spider “attainable”. While it’s true that the step up (and now superseded) 650S Spider is a fair bit more costly at $505,750 at the time of writing, it’s still beyond the means of mere mortals. Perhaps it’s temporary; should they reveal a Spider version of the cheaper 540C, that will then inherit the title of ‘most attainable’.
Still, McLaren’s baby open top with rear-wheel drive is still quicker to accelerate (by 0.1 seconds) to that century mark than Audi’s most potent R8 convertible. You can chalk that up to the magic of turbocharging, we suppose.
“The McLaren 570S Spider is the most attainable McLaren Spider to date and adds yet another dimension to the McLaren Sports Series family. This is a convertible without compromise; its mid-engined layout and carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis guarantee the same thrilling dynamic performance and exceptional driver involvement enjoyed in a 570S Coupé, but with the added attraction of a retractable hard-top that delivers the extra exhilaration of roof-down motoring.” - Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive.