In-depth Reviews

McLaren 12C Spider convertible (2012-2014)

"Exclusive, fast and well engineered, the McLaren 12C Spider is one of the most accomplished and desirable convertible sports cars you can buy."

Carbuyer Rating

2.8 out of 5


  • Same performance as coupe
  • Same handling as coupe
  • Neat roof design


  • Not as desirable as a Ferrari
  • Sat nav hard to see in direct sunlight
  • Nearly £20,000 more expensive than coupe

The McLaren 12C Spider is the convertible version of McLaren's sensational supercar. Powered by a turbocharged V8 engine, its carbon-fibre chassis is identical to the coupe's and there's no compromise when it comes to handling or performance. The fully automatic roof folds away in just 17 seconds and the open-top look is neatly incorporated into the design. A rival for the Ferrari 458 Spider, the British-built McLaren is one of the world's most desirable convertibles.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Costly but no more than you’d expect

High demand means that a 12C Spider is unlikely to suffer high depreciation – one of the most expensive aspects of owning a supercar. But you have to pay to get your McLaren serviced, whereas Ferrari currently offers a seven-year free servicing deal on the 458. The 12C sits in the highest road tax bracket (£505 a year) but this is unlikely to concern buyers of this kind of car.

Engines, drive & performance

Staggering performance and accomplished handling

The 12C's turbocharged V8 delivers 616bhp and the resulting performance is eye-watering. Hi-tech suspension means superb body control and lots of grip, while the chassis, engine, gearbox and electronic stability control system can all be switched between Normal, Sport and Track modes. Thanks to its stiff carbon chassis, the open-top Spider needs no extra strengthening and is just as taut as the coupe. An opening glass rear screen allows you to savour the engine's exhaust sound, too.

Interior & comfort

Great driving position and calm cabin

The McLaren's pedals and steering wheel are lined up perfectly with the seat for a really comfortable driving position. Visibility is excellent for a supercar and the main instrument screen is in your eyeline – but in direct sunlight it's hard to see the steeply angled sat-nav screen on the centre console. The roof folds in just 17 seconds at the touch of a button, and you can do this at up to 25mph. McLaren's clever ProActive Chassis dampers mean ride quality is good for a 200mph car, so this is a relatively easy supercar to live with.

Practicality & boot space

The roof stowage area doubles as extra luggage space

For a mid-engined supercar, the 12C Spider is surprisingly easy to live with. The 144-litre boot up front is the same size as the coupe's, while if the roof is up, a button on the inside of the door opens up the roof storage area, allowing you to use it as an extra 52 litres of luggage space. Among the options is a £3,550 lifter, which raises the nose to make it easier to get into multi-storey car parks or raised driveways.

Reliability & safety

McLaren’s attention to detail bodes well

McLaren suffered a few niggles with early 12C coupes, but the Spider benefitted from a host of small updates. The fiddly touchpad to open the door was replaced by a more reliable button release. McLaren's incredibly hi-tech production facility in Surrey is impressive and the company prides itself on its unrivalled customer care. Its global dealer network is growing, too.

Price, value for money & options

For very rich buyers only

Choosing the Spider instead of the coupe means spending almost £20,000 more. But given that most 12C owners add around 20% to the car's list price in options, that isn't a huge increase. And while the McLaren might not fit the traditional definition of 'value for money,' it's priced competitively against its Ferrari counterpart and exclusivity is guaranteed. Adding options can get very expensive – ceramic brakes are £10,200, but even some mundane items are extra, such as the £50 breakdown warning triangle.

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