The latest in a prestigious line of truly high performance super-cars built in Britain with the same technology and expertise used in Formula 1 is the first convertible from the brand.
The McLaren 650S Spider launched at the Geneva motor show in 2014 is now reaching dealerships. And it’s one of the rarest of the rare.
McLaren has pledged to introduce a new model every year and the arrival of the 650S Spider indicates a widening of the range as well as a development of it.
More than that it also signals a step change in McLaren’s desire to make their supercar a more everyday car so owners can get maximum possible use and pleasure from their mid-engined high performance sportster.
The raw specification is as eye-popping as the performance it creates. The lightweight carbon and aluminium mono-cell tub is pushed along by a twin-turbo 3.8V8 developing 641bhp which with the 1.3 tonne weight translates into a staggering 478bhp/ tonne.
That not only gives it the ability to reach 124mph in 8.6sec but it endows the McLaren 650S with an agility which is akin to a single-seat racing car.
But the McLaren 650S is a very sophisticated grand-tourer for two, with its electric folding roof in 30-seconds changing it from coupe to cabriolet, so you might think you actually get two cars for your money. You can drop the rear glass to hear even more engine noise.
At the other end of the performance scale its F1 inspired carbon-fibre brakes stop it in 33 yards from 62mph and from 124mph it hits standstill in less than 136 yards.
Very sophisticated software is harnessed to give nine selectable modes for the suspension, ride and handling while the powertrain can be set for four prevailing situations from winter to track.
Not only does the sophisticated chassis system give the car tremendous grip but it has a new nose and a McLaren Airbrake at the back to push it down on the road.
Most of the push-button controls are grouped on a wide central panel between the seats and the big tachometer and speedometer are directly infront of the driver with smaller displays for fuel and other essential fluids set aside of the main display.
Doors open upwards when released and occupants drop into the thin but comfortable and sculptured seats with their electric adjustment and a powered steering column.
The acceleration from rest can be smooth or staggeringly swift as desired; the changes come imperceptibly in auto mode and even when manually selected through the column paddles there is more feel but as much finesse in action.
Steering is light but incredibly precise and accurate with a good turning circle, no vibration or kickback over bad roads and the 14-inch ceramic brakes are not only powerful but sensitive and well balanced.
The selectable suspension alters instantly and in sport or normal modes it was surprisingly comfortable for a high performance car.
All of the above means you can use the McLaren 650S in everyday situations and weather, it’s totally well behaved and does not demand special treatment, just the opportunity and desire to enjoy it.
It is without doubt a landmark car in its sector.
MILESTONES: McLaren 650S Spider. Price: £215,250. Mechanical: Mid-engined 650PS (641bhp), 3.8-litre, V8, twin turbo petrol, 678Nm (500lb ft) of torque at 6,000rpm, 7-speed sequential automatic, rear wheel drive. Performance: 204mph, 0-62mph 3.2-seconds. Fuel consumption: 21.8mpg on test (24.2mpg official Combined Cycle). Emissions: 275gkm, VED road tax £1,090 First Year rate then £500 Year two onwards. Insurance group: 50E. Warranty: 3yrs/ unlimited mileage For: Performance, refinement, sophistication, ride and handling, rarity value. Against: Emissions, oddments and luggage room, fuel consumption. Robin Roberts Miles Better News agency