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Meet the NEW 720S Spider

McLaren’s new supercar keeps the previous version’s bells and whistles and improves on its imperfections: enter the potent hardtop convertible.

Few products straddle the fine razor’s edge between making you look impossibly cool and making you seem like a Steve Urkel-level dork quite so effectively as the modern supercar.

The McLaren 720S Coupe is a perfect example. With all its canyon-deep venting and sharp carbon fibre, it has a look so low-slung and sexy that even standing relatively close to one will increase your personal cool factor by several hundred percentage points.

That is, of course, until you have to actually climb into it; a feat of human-origami that, owing to its butterfly-style doors and low roofline, involves a complicated combination of head ducking and leg folding that wouldn’t look out of place in a gymnastics floor routine, but seems very out of place in the carpark of your local supermarket.

And that’s without even mentioning the involuntary grunts and groans you’ll make every time you attempt it.

But worry not, supercar fans, because McLaren has just launched a solution. Enter the new 720S Spider; a car that is no less intimidating to look at than its fixed-roof sibling but arrives with a retractable folding hardtop roof that, when open, makes climbing in and out only slightly more complicated than if you were in a standard hatchback.

Sure, at A$556,000, you’re paying a A$40,000 premium over the coupe version for this sudden ease of entry, but what price is too much for not embarrassing yourself every time you want to actually go anywhere?

And if you’re worried about a convertible being somehow less potent, your fears are misguided. Mounted inches behind your head is McLaren’s ferocious 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, which will send 527kW and 770Nm of power rocketing towards the rear tyres on command.

Yes, that makes it very, very fast. Flatten your right foot and you’ll be forced back into your seat by a tsunami of power, with the 720S Spider sprinting to 100km/h in a scarcely believable 2.9 seconds.

If that’s not enough, it will then soar on to 200km/h in just 7.9 seconds. And it will just keep pushing; with the roof up, you’ll see a top speed of 341km/h, and with the roof down, your wind-whipped eyes will see not much of anything as the speedometer climbs to 325km/h.

Flatten your right foot and you’ll be forced back into your seat by a tsunami of power, with the 720S Spider sprinting to 100km/h in a scarcely believable 2.9 seconds.

If that sounds quick on paper, it feels even faster in real life. Point the 720S Spider’s knife-sharp nose toward anything that even resembles a straight stretch of road and unlock that flow of power – that huge engine suddenly huffing and puffing like a heavyweight fighter in the final round – and you feel like you’re not so much accelerating as you are teleporting to a space that was, until very recently, way off in the distance.

As a result of all this eyebrow-pruning speed, twisting roads suddenly present their own set of unique challenges, with the 720S Spider closing the gap between corners so ridiculously quickly that you find your mind in hyperdrive in an effort to keep up with what’s going on outside your windows.

The Spider is built almost entirely out of carbon-fibre, with the important under-the-skin bits moulded from one unbroken tub of that super strong and lightweight material (also found in rockets, and F1 cars).

As a result, the car feels so taught and tightly strung that it vibrates around you, the road surface tapping this constant rhythm into the base of your spine while the front tyres hum their own tune into your fingertips, via the steering wheel.

It means you feel constantly connected to the car in way that few other vehicles can offer, which in turn makes rocketing into corners at speeds that would make a jet pilot wince feel like little more than a Sunday cruise.

Away from the twisting stuff, though, the 720S Spider will happily settle into a convincing impression of something approaching comfortable, even on longer freeway drives, aided by its mostly comfortable leather-wrapped sports seats and modern-feeling cabin.

In fact, in its most comfortable settings, and provided you go easy on the accelerator, you can genuinely forget you’re driving something exotic at all. Until you catch a glimpse of the lurid bodywork in the mirror, of course.

This 720S Spider is the latest vehicle to appear as part of McLaren’s prolific model rollout, which has gone some way to propelling the company to some staggering sales results. This is a company that has only been selling road cars for about a decade but is one of the fastest-growing brands on the planet, with sales soaring by 44% (and a huge 122% in China) in the past 12 months alone.

And with a product as furiously fast and dynamically powerful as this new Spider, it’s not hard to see why.

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