Because 200 mph is useless if you can't get some bugs in your hair, McLaren introduced to the world a convertible version of its already excellent MP4-12C supercar this weekend at Pebble Beach.
Dubbed the 12C Spider, the car has a retractable hardtop that folds away in a scant 17 seconds and at speeds up to 19 mph. The car's power remains the same, with 616 horsepower coming from a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, routing power to the rear wheels via a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox.
Despite gaining about 88 pounds worth of roof mechanism, the 12C Spider will still do 0-60 mph in the same 3.1 seconds it takes the coupe, though the Spider's 204 mph top speed is a sneeze slower than the 207 mph the fixed roof variant can hit.
Hacking the roof off a car sometimes means the car is more prone to flexing, leading to less control. Yet all 12Cs, coupes and convertibles alike, have a one-piece carbon chassis that doesn't use the roof as a structural component. That meant that when McLaren went to engineer the 12C Spider, it didn't need to add reinforcements elsewhere to compensate for the lost roof.
Also noteworthy are a couple of neat tricks McLaren was able to pull off with this Spider variant.
The folding roof mechanism is incredibly compact, and tucks away just behind the passenger compartment. This setup allowed McLaren to keep the engine visible from the exterior through a glass lid.
The space the roof folds into can be used as a second, smaller trunk, and McLaren even supplies 12C Spider buyers with a pair of soft bags designed to fit into the space.
Finally, the glass window behind the passenger compartment acts as a wind deflector when the top is down. But it's a power retractable unit, and can be lowered at any time, even when the top is up, to allow more air (and sound) into the cabin.
If all this sounds like a nice way to introduce a sunburn to your bald spot, be prepared to pay about a $30,000 premium over the 12C coupe's $231,000 base price. Dealers are taking orders now, and deliveries are set to start in late December or early January, with some priority given to current McLaren owners.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times