BL16 - Page 73

flagship in the marque’s Super Series
line, has some major vital statistics.
Like the hard-top Coupé, the Spider
does 0-62mph in 2.9 seconds, which
is exactly how long it takes me to forget
why I went into the kitchen. From
there, it will go onto 120mph in just
another five seconds and onto that top
speed of 212mph. It is scary quick.
But it’s not that scary to drive. When
I was a boy, there were plenty of fast
cars. My favourite set of Top Trumps in
the late Eighties had a Ferrari F40 in it.
And that did 201mph. Part of the
mystique around cars that could go that
fast – the Jaguar XJ220 and the McLaren
F1 had the same – was that not only
were they very fast, very sexy and very
expensive, they were also very difficult
to drive. The story had been the same
for years. You had to be a weightlifter
before you could even change gear in
an Aston Martin DB5.
But not any more. So many of the
fastest, most powerful cars are really
quite easy to drive. McLaren gives its
cars huge brains, including in this case
something called ‘Proactive Chassis
Control II suspension’, so that every
time its overconfident driver turns in
that fraction late, lots of widgets kick
in before the car and its human contents
end up in a hay barn.
Aside from being smarter than a
National Spelling Bee champion, it’s
also pretty. Not necessarily girl-in-thered-dress pretty. You always get the
impression McLaren’s mathematicians
This page and
The McLaren 270S
Spider does
0-120mph in 7.9
seconds, as highway
patrol can attest...
have had their say in the designs, and
they’ve still not achieved Westworld
levels of anthropomorphic beauty.
But with its body in ‘Supernova
Silver’, it cuts through the Arizona
desert like a rapier through silk, the sun
sliding over its pen-flick panelling as it
whistles through the scrub. Tucked
away somewhere is a V8 internal
combustion engine, one of a dying
breed that McLaren will soon replace
with hybrids, and it hums a beautiful
tune. I fall in love.
Which I think is okay. Because with
McLaren you get the feeling it likes you
back. It wants to impress you. A
McLaren doesn’t have the insouciance
of a Maserati, or pity you like a Bentley.
McLaren Automotive has only been
making road cars for nine years. And
McLaren gives its
cars huge brains, so
when overconfident
drivers turn late,
widgets kick in
because of that, and forgetting one-offs
such as the F1, there’s next to no
cultural baggage. No myths varnished
by generations of marketing men to
unravel. In May I turned 40, and not
much of what makes the McLaren of
today happened before I was born,
or even before I was old enough and
(just about) responsible enough to drive
one. McLaren is a my-generation
supercar. I can own it.
We fly on, passing junk yards, trailer
parks and signs for the Hashknife Pony
Express. A kid on a bike gives us the
thumbs-up as we pass through a
hicksville town. Another shouts
“Gucci” as the Spider glides past.
Briefly, I contemplate stopping to find
out what happens inside the rusting
shack offering ‘Southwest Wildlife
Taxidermy’, but think better of it. Why
stop? Why would you ever stop driving
this magnificent car?
I’ll tell you why. Because you’ve
been pulled over by the boys in desert
brown. I’ve been caught doing 84mph
in a 60. Not criminal, and Lordy,
nowhere near what I might have been
caught doing, but we’ve been warned
by our minders from McLaren that the
local patrols aren’t much in the mood
for have-a-go-hoodlums on their
highways. The officer smiles. “I’m
not going to give you a ticket,” he says.
“Just a warning.” He leans in, teeth
glistening in the midday sun. “Drive
safe, now.”
I love this car. It’s a stretch to call it
practical, but it has more than 200 litres
of luggage space dotted around, and the
roof whips away into the boot in 11
seconds – faster than any other supercar
– and at speeds of up to 30mph. There
are natty touches, too. It comes with a
button that activates the electrochromic
roof so that it dims on demand – an
extra that costs £7,500.
If there is one drawback, it’s not
strictly the car’s fault. I am a tall man,
six and half feet in height, and with
the roof up, my view of the road is
compromised – to say nothing of my
spine. The McLaren 570GT, with its
glass roof, doesn’t present the same
problem, and for this reason alone
I would probably choose it over the
720S Spider. Unless I go live
somewhere it never rains of course.
Arizona, perhaps. They seem to like
me over there. And my car.

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