McLaren has been the subject of quite a few headlines in recent weeks.
The recent departure of its CEO has fueled rumours and counter-rumours about the future of the brand, adding to the atmosphere of suspicion and intrigue. The brand has been trying to move on from the front-page news stories and just doing its regular business of making cars.
The eagerly awaited Artura is now on hold. Next up will be the 765 LT Spider. This drop-top version, which is the flagship of its long-standing Long Tail lineup, will be unveiled. It is claimed to be the brand’s fastest convertible. However, it promises extra driver engagement. This statement of intent, considering how immersive and synapse-snapping this coupe has been, is quite impressive.
The mechanically, the Spider-flavoured765 LT is largely the same as the fixed-head model. It has the same 755bhp twin turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine and suspension setup. This includes a wider front track, lower ride height and unique springs and dampers.
The most significant change is the addition to the powered folding hard-top. This can take you up close and personal in just 11 seconds. Although there is a weight penalty due to the roof’s carbonfibre construction, it still weighs in at 49kg and is only 80kg lighter than the equivalently open-air 720S.
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Because of its carbonfibre structure, very little tuning was needed for any hardware. The most important modification has been the calibration of the car’s iconic active rear spoiler. This now has different angle of attack strategies to deal with differing aero pressures when the roof is open or closed. It’s kind of cool.
The promise of this car looks great on paper. But how does it hold up in reality? To begin with, we are sent out on the Navara circuit in Spain, roof up. From where we are sitting, with our legs extended in recumbent McLaren fashion, the differences between coupes and cabrios are almost indiscernible. You can push harder and faster every lap thanks to the hydraulically assisted steering that is both precise and comfortable. It’s just as fast as it sounds, thanks to the LT’s extra grunt. The seven-speed transmission has closely stacked intermediate ratios that allow it to gobble up the massive energy of a nuclear reactor experiencing thermal meltaway.
The coupe’s wider front track encourages stronger turn-in bite and greater mid-corner rotation. This allows you to adjust your exit angle or dangle as needed. While you still need to keep your feet on the ground when the electronic safety nets gradually lift, no McLaren is as willing to fool the public like it.
To really enjoy the Spider’s enhanced appeal you will need to leave the track, lower your roof, and get out onto the road. Here you can take in the sights, sounds, and surround-sound backing tracks that come standard with alfresco driving.
Although the 4.0-litre V8 isn’t the most musical, when you have your ears so close to the custom quad-exit titanium tailpipes, it’s difficult not to smile. This is especially true in Sport or Track mode where the mechanical blare is enhanced with theatrical pops and gurgles. The small rear glass window can be lowered at the touch of one button, so you can still enjoy the aural assault even when it rains.
The ride is similar to the coupe but just a little too stiff for the roads. It’s just as engaging and engaging as the coupe. The connection between driver and machine is so strong that the LT doesn’t require you to drive it in extreme conditions. Instead, the constant stream messages that are sent back to you while you’re driving act as a constant reminder of why you’re behind the wheel of one the most beautiful driver’s cars out of Woking.