is expanding its lineup with the addition of its second model, the new
2013 McLaren MP4-12C Spider, which is ready for order and starts
delivery in November.
The convertible supercar comes just one year after the launch of the hard-top MP4-12C and gets all the latest features introduced with the 2013 update.
This means that peak output from its twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 is a healthy 616 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque.
McLaren calls the car’s roof system the ‘Retractable Hard Top’ and has
designed it so that it can be operated at speeds of up to 19 mph.
Raising or lowering the roof takes just 17 seconds and top speed remains
an impressive 204 mph--just 3 mph shy of the hard-top’s peak.
Thanks to the MP4-12C’s carbon fiber ‘MonoCell’ chassis, no additional
strengthening was required for the MP4-12C Spider. The result is a
sports car almost identical to its fixed roof equivalent in performance
terms, and weighing only 88 pounds more with the addition of a
convertible roof system. Overall weight with all fluids on board comes
in at around 3,200 pounds.
Behind the driver and passenger sits a rear windscreen which may also be
electronically lowered and raised. With the roof lowered this acts as
wind deflector, and with the roof raised the rear window can still be
lowered, allowing the engine’s sweet exhaust note to roar into the
With the roof raised there is around 1.8 cubic feet of storage behind
the cabin. Bespoke luggage has been designed specifically to fit this
space and is supplied as standard with the car. A rollover protection
system is also fitted, with each of those tall buttresses containing a
steel structure designed to absorb impact energy and protect occupants.
As mentioned, the 2013 McLaren MP4-12C Spider is ready for order and
should commence deliveries in November. In the mealtime, head over to
the McLaren website and play around with the new configurator.
Notes for the Rolls-Royce chauffeur: this is a big and heavy car, so your
employer will require you to be gentle with the controls, particularly the
steering, brakes and accelerator. Ensure the correct attire and a mannered
demeanour at all times and remember, this is about your passengers, not
These requirements haven’t been completely attainable in the last decade’s
worth of 7,000 Rolls-Royce Phantoms, however. Delectable piece of kit it
might be, but the Phantom’s six-speed ZF gearbox, although state-of-the-art
at the launch, occasionally found itself lost for an appropriate gear.
And while Rolls-Royce never talks about its customers by name (you get the
feeling that this car is a lot classier than the people who buy it), it’s a
comforting thought that even plutocrats, dictators, game-show barons,
crowned heads and oil sheikhs have to wait in line just like the rest of us.
For Bentley got its order in first for the new ZF eight-speed automatic
transmission and Rolls-Royce came second – and we understand that Aston
Martin’s replacement DBS is third.
So this Mark II Phantom, on sale now for delivery in September, is really a
change of transmission, but as well as the eight-speeder it also gets a new
beefed-up differential to replace the BMW 7-series unit, which was wearing
noisily in high-mileage Phantoms. While the Phantom Coupé and Drophead Coupé
also benefit from the transmission swap, the saloon gets some additional
strengthening to the aluminium spaceframe chassis.
To make this revamp worthy of the name, there are new electronics, with a
spiffy new satnav system complete with a massive 8.8in screen and a
360-degree camera system to help guide this huge barge into the chief
executive’s parking spot. Did I mention the Harman Kardon stereo? Well, it’s
loud. There are a few cabin changes to incorporate the big screen and sadly
the old centre layout, which was as charming as an old radiogram, has been
swapped for arriviste chromium switches which store memory functions.
The coachwork has received a lot of very subtle changes, which soften the
lines without drastically altering the overall appearance. “Our customers
don’t want a new car coming to market too often,” said Richard Carter,
Rolls-Royce’s communications director. Or rather, after stumping up more
than a third of a million pounds, they don’t want their cars looking out of
date when the Mark II version is launched.
Well, if you stood both cars side by side, you’d know there was a difference
(mainly because of the new rectangular LED headlamps), but only just.
Creases are softer, there’s a combined badge/indicator repeater, a new rear
bumper and chromium around the rear window, but none of it shouts
Inside, the rear cabin is largely untouched. It’s best enjoyed without the
myriad toys that are available, when the simple space and carefully planned
window lines allow a perfect view out while retaining a sense of privacy. In
the front, the old Phantom bugbears remain, with an adjustable steering
wheel that remains slightly out of reach and a centre boss that obscures the
gear selector quadrant so it’s impossible to know which gear you’ve
The push-button starter sits in a panel designed to recall the old Lucas
charging display. Push it and BMW’s 6.75-litre V12 purrs into life. A rev
counter would be useful as the engine’s so quiet you barely notice it
First impressions are of near-silent, effortless torque, or “waftability”, as
Rolls-Royce excruciatingly puts it. At slow speeds you don’t hear much of
anything, just a bit of a whirr from the tyres and a wind-in-the-pipes moan
from the engine when you pull away. Stand on it, however, and you’ll get a
tiny delay in response and not quite the silver-teapot-full of performance,
because the Rolls has to limit torque on getaway to protect the
anti-friction coatings on the gears in the new transmission. Similarly, the
software is distinctly indecisive at times, which we are told is being
addressed already with rewritten software.
The rest of the drive experience is pretty much as it always was, with such an
uncanny ride quality that you would barely notice running over a member of
the proletariat. There’s lots of body roll, but it’s well controlled and
while the steering’s slow, it’s also delightfully accurate. True, in tight
corners, you have to pile on lock like coal on a locomotive, but the Phantom
always draws short of feeling like a runaway train. And never let anyone
tell you this car can’t be driven fast; it can, but in those leather
armchairs you lean into the corner like a dinghy sailor. Fortunately the
massive brakes will survive a lot of abuse.
In the end the Phantom is just such a damn good-looking car and so beautifully
made, it gets away with stuff that would be unacceptable on any other car.
And it now has the quantity, if not quite yet the quality, of gears to keep
the title of the finest car in the world.