McLaren 650S Spider

2016 - Review

McLaren 650S Spider, side
McLaren 650S Spider, front
McLaren 650S Spider, rear
McLaren 650S Spider, side, roof down
McLaren 650S Spider, interior
McLaren 650S Spider, tail
McLaren 650S Spider, side, roof up

SOMETIMES it's nigh impossible to fathom out how car manufacturers come up with their models' names - some have a mishmash of upper and lower cases, others random apostrophes and under-scores, whilst some opt for unusual towns or natural phenomena.

McLaren, on the other hand keeps things nice and simple.

Take the 650S Spider for example. The ‘650' refers to the power output of 650ps; the ‘S' stands for Sport and the ‘Spider' means the car has a retractable folding hard top.

With a price-tag starting from £218,250 the McLaren 650S Spider sits in the company's Super Series line-up which is one group up from the Sports Series which features the 540C Coupe, 570S Coupe and 570GT cars.

And that step up to Super Series means the vehicle will deliver the ultimate driving experience on the road and the track.

This 670S Spider car had a number of optional extras, including Volcano orange elite paint (£4,190), a carbon fibre diffuser (£3,260), carbon fibre sills with the McLaren logo (£2,750) and a sports exhaust (£4,910).

These add-ons along with a few more brought the price-tag up to £246,560 - pretty close to a quarter of a million pounds then.

But there's no denying the fact that this supercar is a magnet for attention and in dazzling burnt orange there's nowhere to hide. But why would you want to hide?

The hand-assembled 650S Spider is one of the most beautifully-crafted machines on our roads today - it features a mix of incredibly strong carbon fibre and aluminium and follows a design ethos inspired by the ultra exclusive McLaren P1.

Just like the company's Formula 1 cars, every ounce on the 650S Spider has to justify its existence and even the three-stage paint technology (inspired by F1) ensures the colour, tint and finish is perfect while keeping weight to an absolute minimum.

The alloy wheels are ultra-lightweight but exceptionally strong and the all-LED headlights are as bright as Xenon yet more energy efficient.

Then there is the retractable hard top which folds gracefully away into the bodywork in just 17 seconds at speeds up to 19mph.

Step inside, or rather climb inside, and the carbon black Alcantara interior offers excellent comfort and support levels while, once again, keeping weight low.

There is a race-crafted steering wheel which has been inspired by all the years in F1 with paddle shifts to blast through the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox.

Or you can put your trust in the car for super-fast automatic gearshifts. There is no gear lever, just simple buttons - a D for drive, an N for neutral and an R for reverse.

There are plenty of creature comforts such as climate control, sat nav, a rear-view camera and a DAB radio and there are some rather interesting buttons that are difficult to ignore.

The driver can tailor the car's responses with Normal, Sport and Track modes and there is a launch button too for ultimate circuit exhilaration.

But we were sticking to the beautiful roads around the leafy Cotswolds so no need to ‘Launch' at all.

Firstly, it has to be said the McLaren 650S Spider is incredibly comfortable despite sitting inches from the Tarmac.

You don't need to be a contortionist to get in and out, but it's fair to say it is quite difficult to exit the car through the gullwing doors in a particularly graceful fashion. Once inside though, all the controls are perfectly positioned in the driver-focused cockpit.

There's a tiny bit of storage under the bonnet, but that's about all because the engine fills most of the space behind the front seats. A push button starts up the car with a roar - even in sedate mode - and with the slightest pressure to the throttle the roar becomes fever-pitch.

Then it's a case of pressing D and away you go. But it's worth remembering the McLaren 650S Spider can reach from 0-62mph in just 3.0 seconds and has a top speed of 204mph so it's going to be fast⦠very fast!

And yes it is, but it remains beautifully composed at the same time. Corners can be attacked and the assured grip means you are tempted to accelerate through the long sweeping bends, but still the car maintains its composure.

With the roof down, the noise is electrifying and the car will gain plenty of attention from onlookers. That said; I found other motorists were particularly courteous - probably because they wanted to follow the McLaren and take a proper admiring look.

You will need to make frequent visits to the filling station to top up as the official combined economy is just 24.2mpg (if driven sensibly) with carbon emissions of 275g/km, so it's not the most efficient supercar out there. But who cares? If you're going to spend close to £250k on a car then a hefty fuel bill is hardly going to be an issue.

All in all, the McLaren 650S Spider is a beautiful piece of work. And the longer I spent behind the wheel the longer I wanted to stay there.

With the roof down and open road ahead, the 650S Spider is one of the finest cars to experience and, although it's only likely to be for the truly privileged, it's great to see the great McLaren racing heritage being brought to the public roads.


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