The McLaren 650S Spider and I have been together for over 1000 days now. While 3 years may not seem like much, things can change rapidly. In 2015 the US had a President who was tethered at least loosely to the truth, affairs with actresses (mainstream and/or adult) were still the purview of the President of France, and David Cameron had just been re-elected UK Prime Minister with an expanded majority in the Commons. It’s a very different world today.
We picked up the McLaren 650S Spider the same day we collected the McLaren P1. Despite my best efforts at negotiation, it was far from buy one get one free. In fact, it was buy one and now you get to pay for the other. Initially I was a bit skeptical on trading in our 2014 12C for the 650S. It was one of the last 12Cs built and I thought it was a significant improvement on the earlier cars. However, after a week of driving around in the 650S, any regrets were long gone. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly why and where the 650S is better but it just is and across every dimension. Power delivery, handling, suspension, brakes, are all just a bit improved and when you add the whole package up, what you have is a much improved car. The changes in suspension are particularly noticeable as that “floaty” feeling you could get in the 12C has been eliminated but the ride quality has not been compromised. For a daily driver, this is key as the road here have a unique lunar quality to them that seems to be getting worse year on year. There is some logic as to why just about everyone in Texas drives around in either a giant SUV or pickup truck.
In terms of reliability, the McLaren 650S Spider has been perfect. The only trips to the mechanic have been for the three annual services which have run about $1,400-$1,800 each. The only other costs have been petrol, insurance, a refurbishment for one lightly scuffed wheel. Gas mileage is pretty average at under 20 mpg with traffic and driving style being major negative contributors. In three years I have not needed to add either oil or coolant once and the tire pressures just need topping up about once a quarter. I have yet to see the temperature gauge move above the mid-point, even while baking in summer traffic with the mercury above 100 F. When parked, I always keep it on the battery conditioner which I do believe has helped prevent any electrical issues.
As a daily driver, the McLaren 650S Spider has been outstanding. It is still a special experience every time I climb over the sill and drop into the driver’s seat. Driving it to and from the office is a great way to both start and finish the day with a guaranteed smile on your face. To be honest, the vast majority of the time the roof stays up. It is far too hot here to have it open in the summer. Ten minutes in the summer sun and you can feel your brain starting to boil. With my family history of melanoma, burnt head is not a risk worth taking. Open top commuting is more often done in winter with the seat heaters on. Put it in winter mode, and it handles frozen roads just fine. I have yet to have the back end step out on me.
The 650S gets used just like every other daily driver. It’s been to the supermarket, dry cleaners, drive thru etc. I long ago stopped noticing camera phones pointed my way but have had a few close calls where other drivers were paying far too much attention to the McLaren and not enough to where their car was wandering on the road. I always drive the 650S in manual mode using the paddles while leaving both the handling and gearbox settings on normal. Only on occasion will I rotate either over to sport. The ride quality is outstanding on normal, especially given the embarrassing conditions of the roads here, but it gets jarring quickly when the setting gets rotated to the right. Urban driving tends to be done with the front nose lift activated to keep the front splitter from scraping on speed bumps and driveway lips. In terms of driving style, there are a few things you do need to keep in mind. The 650S accelerates and brakes more quickly than just about everything else on the road, and depending on the situation, you tend to close on traffic in front of you a lot more quickly than they may expect.
As a daily driver, the must have options in my book are the Front Nose Lifter or you will be replacing the front splitter often, Electric Steering Column as it makes getting in and out of the car much easier, Electric and Heated Seats for open air winter driving along with easy of ingress, Meridian Surround Sound for sitting in traffic, Rear Parking Camera with Parking Sensors if you have to do any parallel parking, and the Sports Exhaust as it just sounds so much better than the stock. In fact, all of the above are now standard requests on any new McLaren we order.
Overall the McLaren 650S Spider has been a terrific, reliable daily driver. The fact that it is a supercar just makes this even more impressive. Originally, we had planned to replace the 650S with the 720S. However, given how great the 650S Spider has been I couldn’t let it go and so it continues on as my daily transport.
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