1st Impressions – McLaren 12C Spider

On a blustery day in early May, after several months of intense discussion, a McLaren 12C Spider took up a slot in the garage. My test drive in the rain followed by my better half disappearing for close to three hours on her’s, is what sealed the deal.  While the 12C Spider is incredibly impressive in normally driving conditions, how well it handled wet & miserable cemented its place as a highly usable everyday Supercar.   Given the likelihood of rain on occasion in the British Isles, this was exactly what we were looking for.  Two months on, if anything it has been more usable and accomplished than originally anticipated.

In pure bhp terms, the 12C Spider is second only to the Koenigsegg of all the cars that I have owned over the years.  In a straight line, I am not sure the McLaren could catch the K’egg but around a track, it would blow it away.  While the 12C Spider is blisteringly quick, what really impresses is the amount of speed you can carry through a corner without the car losing a single element of composure.  While the gearbox does not have quite the fun of the 430 Scuderia’s “bam” when you shift at the redline, it is quicker and smoother. If the manual didn’t state that it is a twin turbo engine, from the driver’s seat it would be near impossible to tell as turbo lag is effectively non-existent.  The three modes on both the suspension set up and transmission allow you to really tailor the set up to both the driving conditions and driver’s mood.  Select “Track” on both and it becomes a feral road legal race car, while on the other extreme “Normal” the 12C Spider morphs into a very comfortable and compliant Grand Tourer.  When we are doing a lot of the latter type of driving, I often get kicked over to the passenger seat as she really loves driving the 12C Spider.  In fact, of all the supercars we have owned the McLaren is the first she really enjoys driving.

So far the McLaren has been a very easy car to live with, engaging, and with plenty of character.  It has done one charity track day, made multiple trips into London, been to the supermarket a few times, navigated a glorified barely paved goat path, led a Supercar run, and even returned to Woking to see where it was born.  The front nose lift has saved the day on a couple of occasions and is a highly recommended option. Being so usable, the 12C Spider ends up getting driven in a wide range of weather conditions and is not just a sunny day supercar.  Being able to drop the rear window with the roof up is a brilliant feature.  This set up in the rain is great as you get both the engine soundtrack and fresh air in the cabin without getting soaked.

Before buying, I heard lots of not terribly positive comments about Iris (stereo/sat nav/phone) system.  In my experience so far it is light years ahead of the ones in the F40, F50, Koenigsegg, Mosler, and Jaguar XJR-15.  The stereo works well as does the Bluetooth phone connection.  The sat nav is basic but I have yet to encounter a built in sat nav on any car that was anything more than basic.  The Becker sat navs that were installed in both the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and 430 Scuderia were near incomprehensible to set up and effectively useless.  Both TomToms and Garmins are well ahead of all the built in sat navs I have fought with over the years.

Overall, the first couple of months with the McLaren 12C Spider have been great.  It has done everything we have asked it to and more.  Unlike other supercars that require a lot more planning before they are taken out on the road, the 12C Spider has become very much out weekend default mode of transportation while also seeing a lot of use during the week.

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December 2017

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