2013 McLaren MP4-12C Spider – First Drive


No, you’re not losing your mind. We’ve already reviewed the sultry 12C Spider back in EC 2/13, when Basem Wasef had the opportunity to let it loose on Spain’s Ascari Circuit. However, McLaren invited us to drive the Spider at California Speedway, so how could we refuse?

We weren’t expecting to come from the track with newfound revelations. Let’s face the facts; the consensus on this supercar is five stars anywhere you look. And even though our star rating is not any different, we stumbled upon a scary truth: The 12C Spider just might be the only real daily-drivable supercar available.

You see, rivals from Italy and Germany don’t quite have it all. Sure, some are more violent and visually stunning (Aventador), and others are superbly sorted but lacking the thrust we want in a car of this caliber (R8 V10 Plus), however thewith a gloomy Friday morning, our yellow Spider could stop traffic. Using the two composite roof pieces intact, its capability to transform into an open-topped racer is unrivalled. The line is so clean, unlike many convertibles that differ from their coupe siblings in obvious ways.

What’s more, the 12C Spider only gains a measly 88 lb compared to the coupe. No structural rigidity was lost along the way, yet the extra fun is immeasurable,. That may be even more impressive.

Thanks to boron tubes within the A-pillars, it can make little impact on the handling characteristics whether you choose the fixed roof or composite drop-top. McLaren admitted that most drivers were completely unaware they were within the Spider rather than coupe because the two drive virtually the same thanks to the advanced carbon fiber monocell chassis, as a result.There is an elephant standing on my lungs, my stomach was squashed in the vice, and my forehead was strapped tightly the headrest. Or at a minimum, that’s the actual way it felt from the passenger seat when I was shown the way the launch control works. In fact, it receives the Spider to 60mph in 3.1sec. We then continued onto 100 and then to 140. The car was ludicrously, inconceivably fast.

There’s virtually no turbo lag from the 3.8-liter V8 twin-turbo, which isn’t surprising once you pop the bonnet to glance with the two tiny snails boosting the hand-built gem to 616hp and 442 lb-ft,. That is even better. How then, is it possible that this 12C pulls so hard to its 8500rpm redline?

The motor was manufactured to provide immense low-end torque by utilizing the small turbos as primary power-adders. Up on top of the rev range, the location where the turbos are spinning at impossible revolutions, the small displacement V8 takes over to retain the powerband climbing ever higher. The combination is almost utopian in the ferocious delivery.

On the tight track, stretching the Spider’s legs wasn’t quite as easy. In fact, witnessing the sub-3000 lb British bomber handle with the eagerness of a shifter kart was almost unsettling. A car shouldn’t be able to do thatis sufficient to clip the apex with razor precision. And the idea of transition oversteer or a chicane mishap might be buried deep in your cranium, because the McLaren simply can not be disturbed.

The Spider is so incredibly easy to drive fast that even my grandma could exploit its ability but, if she went too much, the carbon-ceramic stoppers would surely bring things to a halt.

Blown away at its track performance, we assumed the 12C will be jarring on public roads. Cars of the caliber usually sit thus far on the performance side of the spectrum that pebbles seem like parking and potholes lots develop into a chore. However, setting the chassis and powertrain dials from Race to Normal turned the g-pulling beast into a comfy, plush tourer. With the roof down along with the whooshing, burbling behind your ears, crossing railroad tracks without scrubbing speed felt urbane for any car that’s so capable of being uncivilized. This is something no other supercar can offer…

You won’t find more for your money if you’re seeking a 204mph daily driver, although at $249000, the 12C Spider is no bargain. And, frankly, who isn’t?