Motoring | Features

Mclaren MP4-12C Spider scores off the charts

Woking takes the top off its McLaren MP4-12C to create the new Spider. Yes, it's looking at you Ferrari 458 Spider, and the numbers aren't in your favour

  • Staff report
  • Published: 23:59 July 12, 2012
  • Wheels

Mclaren MP4-12C
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • “The new Spider’s retractable top is unique to the McLaren, and can be operated at speeds up to 30kph.”
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Everything is better with the roof down, everything. And when you take possibly the best supercar of the moment and throw away its roof (anybody who’s still harping on about the lack of emotion in the McLaren MP4-12C has only driven it on Xbox) — the car is magical, you’re only enriching your world with more noise, more drama, more flies in your nose, and a smile that numbs your cheeks after the first corner.

Thank you Woking, for seeing what Maranello has done with its Ferrari 458 Spider, and locking your best men into a room until they emerged with their own Spider. Of course, it wouldn’t be a roofless horsepower war unless McLaren rushed onto the battlefield, tyres screaming, opposite lock, well, locked, with 54 extra horsepower belching out.

That’s like the Italian infantry hopelessly shooting up at the RAF. Well, on paper anyway… The facts are these: Ferrari’s Spider develops 562bhp, and even if you take the more flattering pferdestärke (ps) measurement of power, you’re still sitting on 570ps.

McLaren can play that game too, in which case just run and hide because the new MP4-12C Spider weighs in at 625ps.

The statistics just keep getting better, since the open-roofed Macca drops 0-100kph in 3.1 seconds, losing not a fraction of time to its tin-top sibling.

Sorry Ferrari, but we just have to say it: the 458 Spider will trail 0.4 seconds from zero to 100kph, and stay a few car lengths behind the Macca Spider all the way to its 320kph top speed, at which point the proverbial brick wall appears, yet the McLaren shatters bricks everywhere to stop accelerating only once its needle shows 329kph.

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That’s just 4kph short of the closed McLaren MP4-12C’s top speed. You have to admit now, everything is better with the roof down, right? The new Spider’s retractable top is unique to the McLaren, and can be operated at speeds up to 30kph. Since the car’s lightweight chassis is the major factor of its stupefying performance, we can expect the Spider to thrill just as much, and more, in the bends, with the carbon MonoCell being identical to the 12C coupé.

The 3.8-litre V8 twin turbocharged engine is unchanged, as is the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Best of all, a glass screen positioned behind the tonneau cover affords you a clear view of the mechanical goodness living beneath. And yes, we have a feeling the cheeks will indeed be permanently numbed when the time comes to chuck the Spider around Hatta for the day, since Woking always envisioned the 12C as a Spider from the start.

That’s why the new model’s 75kg MonoCell required absolutely no additional strengthening when the time came to remove the roof. Yet, an additional 40kg has been added to the 12C’s weight for this Spider model, but only because of the convertible roof system, which takes fewer than 17 seconds to raise or lower.

There is also a new rear windscreen in the Spider, which can be raised or lowered to allow the V8 orchestra to enter the cabin even with the roof up. Again, don’t listen to those who harp on about the lack of aural drama in the McLaren.

But anyway, if you’re still one of the doubters putting the Macca down for its low emotional count, we reckon Woking has done enough with this new MP4-12C Spider to make you a convert.

Fact file

Even though McLaren’s first road car was the extremely rare 1969 homologation special M6GT (which never really made full production), McLaren Automotive is officially one year old now. Over the last 12 months, the young brand has established dealerships in 22 countries and achieved sales of more than 1,000 units of the MP4-12C. The Spider is the second model in the line-up, soon to be followed by the code-named P12 hypercar.

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