McLaren went to a lot of trouble to create the 675 LT coupe and it seemed a shame to build just 500 of them. So along came the Spider, and the excuse to build 500 more, only open-topped. Thank customer demand, says McLaren; we're just happy for another opportunity to drive it, as it's pretty special.
In the metal
Like its McLaren 675LT namesake, the new Spider features extensively revised bodywork in keeping with its motorsport-derived origins. All the external changes add significantly to the performance, so it's lighter, thanks to extensive use of carbon fibre, and downforce is up by around 40 per cent. The longer bodywork around the rear with its high mounted, twin exhausts looks sensational, though the 675LT Spider does lose some of the coupe's elegance because of the roof mechanism. The pay off is the opportunity to open it up to the elements, either fully with the roof down, or if the sun's not playing ball by just dropping the rear window and hearing that significantly revised 3.8-litre turbocharged V8 engine via its lightweight titanium exhaust system.
Like the bodywork, the engine has undergone serious revision. Some 50 per cent of it is changed over the unit in the 650S, upping power to a plentiful 675hp, but no element of the 675LT Spider's make up has been overlooked by McLaren's famously obsessive engineers. Combined there's a 100kg weight loss over the already light 650S Spider, with items like a 1mm thinner windscreen, titanium wheel nuts and lightweight alloy wheels, aluminium suspension components, hubs, carbon fibre seats borrowed from the P1, less sound deadening and more besides all contributing to the reduced mass.
With the LT name comes the promise of track-optimised focus, the increased downforce, improved performance and reduced mass all giving the 675LT ridiculous performance potential. It's marginally slower to 100km/h over its closed relation, but you'll do well to notice the 0.1 seconds longer it takes for its 3.0-second time. It's still faster than McLaren's iconic F1 supercar; well, at least until around 320km/h. Roadsters typically involve compromises, though the 675LT Spider differs from most because of its structure. The McLaren features a carbon fibre MonoCell, off which the suspension and engine hang. It's incredibly stiff, so much so that removing the roof does little to change that, so, the wind rushing above your head aside, you'd be hard pushed to notice any differences over the coupe. The 40kg it weighs more than the coupe is so insignificant as to be irrelevant, but McLaren's engineers couldn't help fiddling with the suspension to make sure it's perfectly tuned for the additional mass.
The result, as with the coupe, is extraordinary. The 650S Spider is a ridiculously fast and capable car, but the 675LT Spider adds a dimension above that. It's faster still, effortlessly so, and more engaging and thrilling to boot, McLaren focusing heavily on the intangible elements of the driving experience with its LT models. The engine's more vocal, thanks to the loss of some sound deadening and that trick titanium exhaust; the engineering team actually left in some vibration to add to its appeal - we would love to have sat in during that meeting. The torque curve could be near vertical with a lengthy plateau, but it has been tweaked to deliver a more forceful punch throughout the entire rev range. There's nowhere that the 675LT Spider's performance feels lacking, its pace more hypercar than mere supercar, its force relentless, though for all its mighty performance it's the chassis that impresses the most.
McLaren's uncompromising approach to building cars has it adopting a suspension system that bins conventional roll bars, instead linking the dampers hydraulically with a gas-filled accumulator. Forget the mechanics behind it; put simply, it works. It allows the 675LT Spider to offer both fine wheel and body control and the sort of ride comfort that many luxury cars struggle to match.
The agility it achieves is similarly spectacular, brake steer helping with turn-in, the electronic stability and traction control systems allowing varying degrees of control depending on your preference and skill. The 675LT Spider's ability to manage the poor surfaces of the weather ravaged, testing tarmac of the Scottish launch roads is genuinely impressive, and that control and suppleness is in no way at the expense of feel.
Indeed, McLaren's retention of a hydraulic power-assisted steering set-up, along with P1-derived suspension geometry and the 675LT's reduced unsprung mass, gives the 675LT Spider among the finest steering systems you can currently buy, its weighting perfect, its response immediate and the rim itself absolutely loaded with information - but not to the point of being too busy. All cars should steer like this. Add the mighty brakes, super-quick paddle-shifted seven-speed transmission and the 675LT Spider is a hugely engaging car to drive, and one that's even enjoyable when it's not tearing around the tacho to 8,500rpm chasing all its performance, which, given how beyond the realms of legality it can go is a good thing indeed.
What you get for your money
Your money, assuming you've got a deposit down on one of the 500 being built (as they're all sold out already), is McLaren's fastest car behind the sold-out P1 hypercar. It's entirely likely you'll spend about a quarter again on extras, this level of buying being a whole different world, where owners want personalisation. McLaren's MSO will only be too happy to help. Half a million Euros never looked such good value.
Aston Martin Vantage V12 S Roadster: nowhere near as fast or as polished an offering, but equally analogue in its appeal.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS: Porsche doesn't do a drop-top RS. Delete the air conditioning and drive it with the windows down...
Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster: similarly carbon-tubbed supercar with near hypercar performance and also open-topped. More bonkers.
While the new McLaren 675LT Spider is an incredible car, it might stretch the motorsport-derived LT badge a bit far by being open-topped - surely CanAm would be more suitable... Regardless, all have sold out and every one of the 500 owners will love it. Justifiably, too.