You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or so they say. But sometimes it’s hard not to and sometimes first impressions can be spot on.
So it is with the McLaren 570S Spider. The briefest of glances at this thing screams drama, excitement, speed and, particularly in this spectacular Curacao Blue, more than a little attention-seeking.
Even getting in is a performance as the dihedral doors swoop up and out and you step across broad sills to sink into the Alcantara-rich interior. Fire up the V8 over your shoulder and it comes to life with a guttural burble that hints at the performance on offer and will make everybody within about half a mile turn their heads.
McLaren 570S Spider
Price: £164,750 (£226,710 as tested)
Engine: 3.8-litre, V8, twin-turbo petrol
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Top speed: 204mph
0-60mph: 3.1 seconds
CO2 emissions: 249g/km
Before you hit the road you’ll want to press the button that sets the two-piece roof folding away in an electronically controlled ballet, just to make sure everyone knows who’s driving.
Once you’ve got everybody’s attention, pressing the button marked ‘D’ and heading out onto the road further reinforces those first impressions. It’s instantly engaging thanks to a great driving position and brilliantly engineered controls. It’s manageable at low speeds but there’s never any doubt about the car’s potential – a brief prod of the throttle is enough to confirm this is a full-blooded supercar.
Despite the fact the Spider has a folding roof McLaren say there’s been no reduction in the 570S’s stiffness or strength thanks to its carbon fibre MonoCell II chassis. This allows the car to maintain all the performance of its coupe stablemate.
And what performance. The 3.8-litre V8 produces 562bhp and 443b/ft thanks to a pair of turbochargers. That makes for a 0-60mph time of just 3.1 seconds and the sensation of that pace is enhanced by the open cockpit of the Spider.
Maintaining its structural rigidity means the Spider handles like a sports car should. Thanks to all-round double-wishbones, adaptive dampers and the exact same calibration as the coupe the Spider feels razor sharp. The steering’s quick and well-weighted steering and the ride is stiff enough to ensure impeccable body control without being painful on less-than-perfect roads. There’s a nimbleness and directness that makes it a joy to drive at any speed and the active dynamics panel allows you to tweak the suspension for different conditions.
I drove the 570S Spider back to back with its 720S stablemate and, despite the bigger car’s even more phenomenal performance, I actually prefer the slightly less mad convertible.
It’s a bit more manageable on our roads. It’s still hugely, grin-inducingly quick and has agility and poise to spare but is perhaps not quite as ferocious. The handling isn’t quite as darty but still responds so precisely to your inputs you’ll think you’re being absorbed into the car.
It’s almost everything the 720S is but a bit less intimidating, more approachable, which – of course – is what the entry-level Sports Series is all about.
Also, in my opinion, it’s even better looking. The two-tone bodywork, exposed carbon fibre features and flying buttresses make even more of McLaren’s swooping futuristic styling cues than the rest of the range. And there’s something about the feeling you get an open-top sports car that a coupe just can’t match.