McLaren 750S Spider
Image Credit: McLaren

I'm driving the $345,000 McLaren 750S Spider for a day in the desert outside Las Vegas.

As the successor to the McLaren 720S Spider, the 750S Spider is the lightest, most powerful convertible series production supercar that McLaren makes.

With sharp, swift performance, the looks of a superstar, and an interior that beats those in previous models, this is a welcome addition to one of the most prestigious lineups in elite motorsport. Be patient if you haven't yet reserved one: Orders for 2024 have sold out, and there's a 12-month waiting list for 2025.

The essentials

At 2,923 pounds, the 750S Spider weighs slightly more than 100 pounds above the 750S Coupe. Its one-piece retractable hardtop opens or closes in 11 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph.

It has a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine that gets 740 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. That power, combined with its feather-like weight, translates into what feels like pure speed: Top velocity is 206 mph. It will run from zero to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds, enough to toe the line with Ferrari's 296 GTB and 296 GTS and with Lamborghini's Huracan EVO Spyder.

McLaren built the car from its so-called carbon fiber "monocage," part of the signature sauce that keeps the brand's cars feeling like track stars from outer space. A seven-speed, short-shifting gearbox offers paddle shifting and automatic shifting; I avail myself of both on a test drive as I soar down Nevada State Route 167, from the Lake Mead Recreation Area to Valley of Fire State Park.

This alien-looking drop-top bears the trappings of all great driving cars: lightweight ceramic brakes with components derived from Formula One; active rear aerodynamics to help stability and handling; proactive chassis control to keep it well planted, even when I thrash it around curves; and operator-selectable drive modes that change both damper settings and roll stiffness.

There's very little body roll. Driving the 750S Spider feels more as if you've strapped yourself into a guided missile than into any four-wheeled automobile. I drive it delightedly, pinned to my seat as I wind my way through the enormous red-rock formations that give the Valley of Fire its name. This state park, just an hour outside Las Vegas, proves a great place to test the car's acceleration and handling along languorous, two-lane highways.

The good

These days, electric sedans and expensive pickup trucks tend to boast the same speed and power as even the coolest-looking sports cars. This can be confusing. But the 750S Spider maintains supercar tradition: Its svelte, otherworldly body looks fast and drives fast, removing any doubt that you're dealing with a Very Special Thing.

Inside is plenty of headroom and shoulder room for two tall adults, new features like Apple CarPlay and a central information screen featuring rich graphics. The rear-view and surround-view cameras have been upgraded, and the new vehicle-lift system raises the front in four seconds, compared to the 10 seconds it takes a 720S. I use it while navigating a soggy, pockmarked parking lot during a lunch stop at magician Chris Angel's remote diner. (Not recommended for food or environs; do yourself a favor and pause at Denny's on the way home).

Everything about this car is intended to save weight, including new, carbon fiber racing seats that save 38.6 pounds and new, 10-spoke ultra-lightweight forged wheels that save 30.4 pounds.

In this world, being whippet-thin is good. It lets the 750S Spider drive these dusty desert roads with the intensity and instantaneous precision of a droid developed in some futuristic laboratory. The car may lack soul, but should feel perfect if you favor an antiseptic sense in your supercar.

The bad

Ingress and egress might prove challenging. I notice several of my compatriots (journalists) struggling to get into and out of front seats. The 750S Spider is low. Its dihedral doors open upward like wings but, unlike those on the 750S coupe, they don't take a portion of the roof with them. This gives drivers less space to navigate on entering. You'll have to tuck and roll to get in and then reach high above to pull the door down toward you. If you want an 750S Spider, make sure you're limber and lithe enough to fit inside; awkwardly wedging oneself into any mode of transport"-especially one as flashy as this"-is a look we must avoid.

I'm not going to say that the slim, vertical center control screen and its associated operating system are bad. They work. I will say they do not feel as intuitive and advanced as infotainment centers in competitors like Ferrari. These are quirky. While some automakers work to make their next-gen screens as close as possible to operating an iPhone, McLaren's setup feels more like a Motorola.

The 750S Spider's price, too, will deter some interested parties looking at other enticing cars in this rarefied space. While the 2024 model-year version I'm driving costs $345,000, the company just announced that pricing for 2025 will start at $364,500. (It applies if you order a car now.) This approaches the current $366,139 base price for the Ferrari 296 GTS, which has more horsepower, comparable abilities and the incomparable status of " a Ferrari. Even McLaren's $249,100 Artura and $273,800 Artura Spider offer nearly as much horsepower and performance as the 750S Spider, along with an arguably more elegant, adult design. For those less concerned with status and more concerned with value, those are smarter options.

If you remember only one thing

McLaren makes clinical cars. The 750S Spider is no different. It is laser-focused with a stiff suspension and unique, much-admired electro-hydraulically assisted steering. But it's difficult to connect with this car on a carnal level. Where driving other supercars can feel as if you're fighting to control a fire-breathing creature, the 750S is compliant. It does exactly what you ask"-instantly, at all times"-rather than hesitate or overdo it. The engine hums and whines rather than growls with raw unbridled menace. It's so smooth and supple to drive that there's little drama to be felt holding that carbon fiber-and-Alcantara steering wheel.

This, of course, is why you buy a McLaren. With mind-clearing performance and extraterrestrial looks that tell the world that you have indeed purchased a proper supercar, the McLaren 750S Spider attests to the virtues of analytic, unadorned speed.

If you love the sound of that, this just may be the droid you're looking for.