McLaren 570S Spider - a

car that beguiles

IT takes a very short distance - 50 metres on a deserted stretch of road will do - to declare this McLaren a deeply impressive work of automotive art.

It then needs about the same time as the McLaren takes to cover that distance to spark a debate about the point of building a car that will top 200mph, in a motoring world hemmed in by speed limits and crowded roads.

And it took less time than that to declare that if I could afford a McLaren 570S Spider one of them would now be sitting in the garage.

Not sitting there for long, however. There might be shopping to collect or someone waiting at the station. Any excuse, actually, to start up the 3.8 litre engine and set its 570 horsepower idling with menace behind the driver's head.

And it wouldn't matter - it really wouldn't - if the road to supermarket or station was busy with people in their Astras and Golfs, for the utterly standout feature of this McLaren is the way it makes any journey feel special.

Special, for starters, because the car is put together with the precision of a Swiss watch, assembled in small numbers in a Woking production facility which might consider a hospital operating theatre a bit on the grubby side.

You can pay a modest fortune extra (most buyers do) to make your McLaren more special still - £2,570 brings an interior in natural tan and carbon black, for instance - but there is no need.

Straight from the box the Spider beguiles. It costs £164,750 - a hefty £19,445 hike over the fixed roof version - but you receive a car built from race-tech carbon fibre that gives it the same body strength as the Coupe and weighs only a modest 46kg more.

That's accounted for by a roof that whirrs away into its own compartment in 15 seconds and at up to 25mph, when the car is transformed on a sunny day into a machine that heightens the senses and makes the world feel a better place.

Reaching the official fuel consumption of 26.6mpg will need heroic restraint (and a 249g/km CO2 figure means £1,700 road tax in year one) but other numbers are likely of more interest to a 570S Spider buyer.

Given a stretch of private road the 570S Spider would quite quickly hit its top speed of 196mph; pop the roof back in place and that increases to a still more irrelevant 204mph. Roof up or down, the car hits 62mph in an equally irrelevant 3.1 seconds.

Figures the car nut will probably know by heart but the delights of this car are equally found at more mundane speeds, where you'll be astonished by a soft but controlled ride that shames machines wildly less powerful than this one.

Then there's steering so full of feedback you can read the size of the chippings beneath the wheels from the messages sent to the rim of a perfectly shaped and leather wrapped steering wheel.

Getting behind that wheel involves arcing the driver's door skyward in theatrical fashion and then slipping into a low set seat with as much grace as possible. Practice makes it easier; another reason for another drive, surely.

McLaren says lots of its cars are used every day and practical points on the Spider include a luggage bay at the front big enough for a decent shopping trip or a couple of squashy travel bags.

There is also good visibility all round this wide car thanks to slim pillars and spot-on placement of door mirrors. You'll need to find another £4,090 for the security pack that includes parking sensors and rear view camera, which ought to be standard, though.

Mere trifles, you may conclude after a spirited outing in the Spider, or a crawl down the High Street to the shops.

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