The convertible version of the MP4-12C launched in 2011 starts the promised expansion of the Formula One company’s range of supercars as McLaren aims to beat rivals such as Ferrari off the track.
In the 0-100km/h sprint, the McLaren MP4-12C is claimed to reach the chequered flag at the same time as the fixed-roof version but ahead of the rival Ferrari 458 Italia Spider – 3.1 seconds versus 3.4.
The Spider is slightly slower than its coupe sibling once speeds rise higher, though is still impressively quick – taking 9.0 seconds to go from standstill to 200km/h (8.8sec for the coupe) before reaching a maximum speed of 329km/h, 4km/h shy of the coupe.
The McLaren MP4-12C Spider is powered by the same 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 – visible through a glass tonneau - that now produces 460kW in both models after a new update. It puts that power to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
How that engine sounds to the driver and front-seat passenger, however, will be different thanks to the Spider’s open-air-motoring option.
The three-piece retractable metal roof ensures the Spider retains the coupe shape of its sibling, folding into a compartment behind the two-seater cockpit in 17 seconds via a centre console switch.
The roof can be raised or lowered up to a speed of 30km/h.
A rear windscreen sits between the buttresses that also incorporate the Spider’s passive roll-over protection hoops, acting as a wind deflector when raised. It can be lowered electronically even when the roof is in place to allow the V8’s sound to better penetrate the cabin.
The McLaren MP4-12C Spider weighs only 40kg more than the regular 12C. Because the supercar was conceived as a convertible originally, McLaren says no additional structural strengthening was needed for the body that incorporates a lightweight carbonfibre ‘monocell’.
A 2013 model year update introduces an upgraded interior that’s applied to both MP4-12C models, as well as a Vehicle Lift system that allows the McLaren to increase its ground clearance by 40mm at the front and 25mm at the rear, and up to 60km/h, to help avoid scrapes.
The McLaren MP4-12C Spider will cost $543,900 (before on-road costs) in Australia, carrying a $50,000 premium over the coupe.
The Spider is available to order now, with deliveries starting in the first quarter of 2013.
McLaren distributor Trivett says it is on track to sell 25-30 MP4-12C coupes in 2012, and expects to increase that figure in 2013 with the addition of the Spider.