Take the top off: 2019 McLaren 720S Spider revealed
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By now, McLaren's model for releasing cars should be relatively clear. First, they unveil the 'standard' release (think 570S, 720S, and so on), and then over time they drip-feed different derivatives to the market.
Let's take a look at the 570S, for example. It arrived in New Zealand in February 2016, before being followed by its 'base model' variant — the 540C — in December. The drop-top 570S Spider landed here in January this year, and now on the horizon is the super sports supremo 600LT, which is expected early next year.
Well, as the 570S appears to hit its stride, the 720S looks set to do the same sequential dance following the overnight unveiling of the 720S Spider variant.
As you'd expect, a lot of the kinda-cabriolet's underpinnings remain largely the same. The MonoCage II-S monocoque is almost untouched, with minor changes including additional carbon fibre structural supports for aided rollover protection. The twin-turbo 4.0-litre M840T power-plant stays on, with its 529kW of power and 770Nm of torque.
Click here to read our full McLaren 720S road test
Things staying the same is cause not for sadness, but celebration. Convertibles typically lose some of the mechanical edge of their coupe counterparts, but the 720S appears to survive without much of the traditional drop-top compromise.
This is showcased in McLaren's claimed numbers. It's set to hit 100km/h in 2.9 seconds, with a top speed of 341km/h with the roof up. Those are the same figures as the coupe — proving, at least in a straight line, that the Spider hasn't lost any of its performance output.
That said, once the roof goes down, top speed shrinks to 325km/h. It also weighs 49kg more than the coupe thanks to the folding roof's additional mechanisms. Still, McLaren boast that the 720S Spider weighs 88kg less than its "closest competitor" — whoever that might be.
That retractable roof is the "fastest operating convertible roof in the supercar class" according to McLaren. It can be lowered or taken down in just 11 seconds each way, while travelling at speeds up to 50km/h.
The latter is the nice point from our perspective, ensuring that those halfway through roof erection or depression when the traffic lights turn green can save themselves from embarrassment.
Speed isn't the roof's only party trick either. One of the more interesting bits of the 720S Spider's options list is the chance to get electrochromic glass for the hard top. Along with twisting your tongue when talking to friends about it, the fancy glass will also allow driver and passenger to 'tint' the glass at the touch of a button. This can reduce how much sunlight hits the cabin, while also adding some privacy to the picture.
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