“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” What English writer and historian John Dalberg-Acton said is true. I have absolutely been corrupted, completely and irrevocably, by the McLaren 720S Spider. And it’s all because of the power.
I drove the brand-new supercar on a route that took me from the urban sprawl of Phoenix to the more peaceful surroundings of Payson across some open stretches of highway in Arizona. I learned a lot along the way. But the one fact that overwhelms everything else is that the 4.0-liter turbocharged V8 engine installed in the McLaren 720S Spider feels almost otherworldly powerful.
With a dry weight of 2,937 pounds, the Spider weighs just 108 pounds more than the 720S hardtop. That’s going to have a very small impact on performance, but you won’t feel any difference from behind the wheel — 710 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque have a way of masking a few extra pounds.
Foot to the floor, there’s a brief moment right off idle where turbo lag almost makes the 720S Spider’s engine feel like it may be a disappointment. Almost. And then all hell breaks loose. McLaren says the 720S Spider will accelerate from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds on its way to a 10.4-second quarter mile (just 0.1 seconds slower than the coupe) and 212-mph top speed. Drop the top and terminal velocity falls to a positively pedestrian 202.
With the top in place, I was able to enjoy another cool new feature that isn’t shared with the rest of McLaren’s lineup of Spiders. An electrochromic glass panel can turn mostly transparent or deeply tinted at the touch of a button. The roof, which is paired with a translucent set of flying buttresses just aft of the passenger compartment, offers a feeling of airiness and visibility that is unrivaled among the Spider’s competitive set.
These two vehicles share a whole heck of a lot in common. In fact, all the cars in McLaren’s lineup share a single line of DNA. But the actual experience of driving these two Spiders is overwhelmingly different.
In the end, I walked away thinking that the 600LT Spider may offer the most fun you can have on a race track behind the wheel of a McLaren. But the 720S Spider is the best all-around McLaren that money can buy. There are very few downsides, other than the fact that, at $315,000, I can’t afford one. It’s comfortable, versatile, beautiful, and above all else, stupidly fast.