2020 McLaren 720S Spider First Drive: Uncompromising

THIS is the best argument against the 720S Coupe.

Driving rain pelts the aggressively raked windshield of the 2020 McLaren 720S Spider, while freeway speed forces the precipitation around the front glass and then up and over the side windows. Once in the cabin, it trickles down, down, down into the doors, where no doubt the water will make fast friends with fickle British electricals. I desperately try to wipe the moisture away, dampening the sleeve of my North Face jacket. The black fleece-lined zip-up serves as my only protection from the unexpectedly chilly Arizonan air. This is not ideal weather for testing a convertible supercar. It’s gray. It’s gross. And as I finally burst out from beneath the squall into blazing, brief sunshine, it all feels remarkably British.

McLaren envisioned and designed the 720S to accommodate a folding hardtop from the start.

The Coupe’s Monocage II carbon-fiber monocoque sprouts fixed rollover supports and a new upper structure to accommodate the single-piece roof and its tonneau cover. Engineers also redesigned the top roof rail to accommodate the single automatic latch and then moved the rail forward 3.1 inches to let a little more sky in when the roof was down. This repositioning, along with a new dihedral door design that’s narrower and opens further, makes getting in and out of the 720S Spider easier than its predecessor, the 650S Spider.

At 2,937 pounds dry, the 720S Spider is 83 pounds lighter than the 650S Spider. It’s just 109 pounds heavier than 720S Coupe. And because McLaren’s new convertible gains so little weight over its hardtop sibling, it’s even lighter than the hardcore versions of its primary competitors. The Ferrari 488 Pista Spider (3,042 pounds), Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder (3,322 pounds), and Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster (3,583 pounds) should probably lay off the spaghetti bolognese.

Considering its featherweight nature, it’s no surprise the 720S Spider is just as quick to 62 miles per hour as the Coupe, doing the deed in 2.9 seconds. Keep going, and 124 mph arrives 7.9 seconds after setting off. That’s just a tenth of a second slower than the Coupe. And regardless of body style, the top speed is 212 mph. The Spider’s top speed is only lower than the Coupe’s if you put the roof down – then it’ll do just 202 mph.

ENGINE Twin-Turbocharged 4.0-liter V8

OUTPUT 710 Horsepower / 568 Pound-Feet

TRANSMISSION 7- Speed Dual-Clutch

DRIVE TYPE Rear-Wheel Drive

SPEED 0-60 MPH 2.8 Seconds

MAXIMUM SPEED 212 / 202 MPH (Top Up/Down)

FUEL ECONOMY 15 City / 22 Highway / 18 Combined

WEIGHT 2,937 Pounds (dry weight)


CARGO VOLUME 7.3 Cubic Feet (total)

BASE PRICE $315,000

AS-TESTED PRICE $416,640 (est)