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The 2013 McLaren 12C Spider utilizes high technology and race-proven smarts to deliver otherworldly performance.
Incredible acceleration; very high handling limits; non-intrusive electronic aids; quick-folding top.
No traditional manual transmission offered; not as visceral as other exotics; cramped quarters for taller drivers.
The McLaren 12C Spider is an all-new model for 2013.
As if the latest McLaren supercar wasn't quite super enough, the 2013 McLaren 12C Spider arrives with some upgrades. First and foremost, the 12C now comes equipped for open-top motoring, with a two-piece folding hardtop that raises and lowers in 17 seconds. The folding top also houses a rear glass window that can be lowered independently, allowing occupants to better appreciate the full song of the twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 engine behind their seats. If that's not enough sonic alchemy, the 12C Spider also offers the Intake Sound Generator, which allows the driver to manually control the amount of engine wail diverted into the cabin from the engine bay.
For 2013, that V8 gains 24 more horsepower for a total of 616 hp and 442 pound-feet of torque. Joined to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, that's enough to cover zero to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds en route to a top speed of 204 mph. Keeping the 12C Spider stable at those cheek-stretching speeds is the work of a sophisticated double-wishbone suspension system, one advanced enough to hydraulically interconnect its dampers and thus eliminate the need for antiroll bars.
The beauty of the McLaren, however, is how easy it is to live with every day. The 12C Spider offers Normal, Sport and Track modes, which can be applied independently to the transmission and suspension. The latter is indeed only suited for smooth track surfaces, while Sport offers the best compromise between comfort and control. The 12C Spider also features McLaren's Brake Steer system, a recent Formula 1 technology that brakes the inside rear wheel for improved grip and handling in corners.
The convertible mechanism adds 88 pounds to the weight of the 12C Spider, yet during our drive we found that it offers all the strength and rigidity of the coupe version (known as the MP4-12C). Even on rougher roads at slower speeds, conditions where the rival Ferrari 458 Spider can feel slightly unstable, the 12C Spider loses none of its cool and demonstrates the benefit of its one-piece carbon-fiber shell. As a bonus, the folding hardtop design leaves room for a glass window that lets you admire the twin-turbo V8.
Surprisingly for a supercar, though, the 12C Spider's interior is still a bit of a squeeze for anyone taller than 6 feet. Nor are the seats particularly comfortable or supportive in a car of this caliber and potential. Not surprising is the 12C Spider's lack of meaningful cargo space, with only about 6 cubic feet in the front trunk. McLaren did, however, design some bags specifically to exploit the 1.84 cubic feet of space normally consumed by the folding top.
Sure, a supercar convertible is nice. Is it $24,000 nicer than the coupe? McLaren thinks so, expecting the Spider to account for 80 percent of MP4-12C sales at a robust $265,800. The 12C Spider is on sale now. Check back for a full review of the 2013 McLaren 12C Spider, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.
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