New superpower in sports cars

The  McLaren 650S Spider
The McLaren 650S Spider

What’s new?: The McLaren 650S Spider is essentially an evolution of the 12C, but with such a comprehensive spectrum of upgrades that symbolically it’s more like a brand new car.

It’s faster, better balanced and has an even broader range of talents at both ends of the performance/comfort scale.

Its mighty turbocharged V8 engine now has the sort of power you used to get only in unobtanium-rare hypercars, and the fact that the 650S is half a second faster to 100mph than the legendary McLaren F1 tells its own story. This thing is crushingly, breathlessly fast.

Looks and image: McLaren’s engineers and test drivers are keen to point out that styling is a mere trifle of a concern to come after making sure the mechanicals are the best in the business.

That said, a new front end adds significant downforce to keep those sticky-tyred front wheels pinned hard to the floor. The image is in the same vein as Porsche’s, in that McLaren is rightly seen as a technological powerhouse, whose cars’ engineering prowess is the equivalent of a huge handlebar moustache and an improbably large chest. Ye olde concepts of masculinity blend with an appreciation for 21st century tech that works, and works astonishingly well.

Space and practicality: While you probably won’t want to throw away the estate car just yet, the 650S Spider has a pleasantly cavernous front boot and, if you’re willing to leave the roof up, a smaller extra boot between the seats and the engine.

There’s plenty of practical space for weekend trips away – and as a rule McLarens are among the most used supercars of them all.

Behind the wheel: Full throttle in this car feels like being squeezed under a very large boot. Your lungs struggle against the g-force as 650 apparently very cross horsepowers shove you back into your seat after the slightest of delays waiting for the two huge turbochargers to kick in.