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McLaren opens up with summer-friendly 720S Spider

Ferrari 488 Spider firmly in sights of high-performing McLaren 720S Spider supercar

10 Dec 2018

MCLAREN Automotive has revealed its 720S Spider open-top supercar that comes close to matching all of its Coupe sibling’s performance figures due to a minor weight penalty brought about by the stringent use of lightweight carbon-fibre.
Featuring a power-folding hardtop, the Spider’s one-piece carbon-fibre roof panel can be lowered or raised in 11 seconds at speeds up to 50km/h – six seconds quicker and 20km/h faster than its 650S predecessor.
The Spider’s carbon-fibre construction, dubbed Monocage II-S, differs from the Coupe with the central ‘spine’ above the cabin removed in favour of a unique upper structure, which features fixed supports that enhance rollover protection and anchor the roof and seatbelts.
Buyers can instead opt for a carbon-fibre-framed, glazed roof panel that has electrochromic glass that can switch between tinted and transparent states at the push of a button.
The Coupe’s signature dihedral doors are retained for the Spider, albeit with a frameless window design, plus a new hinge system and gas strut position.
Thanks to the inherent rigidity of carbon-fibre, no additional construction strengthening was required for the Spider over the Coupe, despite the removal of the fixed roof.
This means that the Coupe’s thin A-pillars carry over to the Spider, although the header rail on top of the windshield has been revised to accommodate a central latching mechanism.
As a result, the Spider is only 49kg heavier than the Coupe, at 1332kg (dry), with most of the weight gain attributed to the power-folding hardtop and rear tonneau cover system.
McLaren cheekily points out the Spider “is comfortably the lightest car in its competitive set, at 88kg less than the 1420kg dry weight of its closest rival” (cough, Ferrari 488 Spider).
The Spider’s glazed flying buttresses improve visibility and aerodynamics over its 650S forebear in combination with a 25mm-lower rear tonneau cover and an automatically lowering rear window.
The Coupe’s active full-width rear spoiler also features on the Spider but rises at lower speeds and to a higher position, depending on whether its power-folding hardtop is raised or lowered. 
The Spider and Coupe share the same 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine that produces 530kW of power at 7500rpm and 770Nm of torque from 5500 to 6500rpm, with drive sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Thanks to its minor weight penalty, the Spider matches the Coupe in the sprint from standstill to 100km/h, at 2.9 seconds, but is 0.1s slower to 200km/h, at a blistering 7.9s.
Similarly, the Spider hits the same top speed as the Coupe, at 341km/h, but terminal velocity falls to 325km/h when its power-folding hardtop is lowered.
Claimed fuel consumption on the combined cycle test is 11.6 litres per 100 kilometres, while carbon dioxide emissions have been tested at 276 grams per kilometre.
Australian timing and pricing for the Spider is yet to be confirmed by McLaren Asia Pacific, although international deliveries will start in March. For reference, the Coupe starts from $515,080 before on-road costs, and the new sibling could exceed $560,000.
According to McLaren Automotive chief executive officer Mike Flewitt, the 720S Spider resets the benchmark for convertible supercars, including its beefier Ferrari 488 Spider rival.
“The new McLaren 720S Spider offers an unparalleled blend of extreme performance, crafted luxury, driver involvement and daily usability – all with the additional exhilaration of open-air driving whenever required,” he said.
“As the most accomplished convertible supercar ever, the new Spider delivers across a remarkable spectrum of abilities to outstandingly high levels, and as lightest in class with an increase of just 49kg over the 720S Coupe, moves us even further ahead of our competition in the weight race.”
Combined sales of McLaren’s coupes and convertibles have taken a hit this year, with 82 examples sold to the end of November – a 13.7 per cent decrease over the 95 deliveries made during the same period in 2017.
As such, the brand’s models are the sixth best-selling sportscars in the $200,000-plus segment, trailing Porsche’s 911 (488 units), Ferrari’s model line-up (222), Mercedes-AMG’s GT (164), and Aston Martin (136) and Lamborghini’s (105) coupes and convertibles.

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