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

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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.

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2021
Nissan Qashqai
Deals
11 Jun 2021

Best new car deals 2021

Best 4x4s and SUVs
Peugeot 3008 SUV rear 3/4 tracking
Family SUVs
3 Jun 2021

Best 4x4s and SUVs

Best hybrid cars
Toyota Corolla Trek
Best cars
8 Jun 2021

Best hybrid cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

Best cheap cars
Dacia Duster SUV
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap cars

Bold new Vauxhall Grandland SUV arrives with technology overhaul
2021 Vauxhall Grandland SUV.
Vauxhall Grandland X
8 Jun 2021

Bold new Vauxhall Grandland SUV arrives with technology overhaul

Speed awareness course: all you need to know
Police car - open boot
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Speed awareness course: all you need to know

How to remove bird poop from a car
How to remove bird poop from car
Tips and advice
26 May 2021

How to remove bird poop from a car

First look at the new Audi RS3
2021 Audi RS3 saloon and hatchback
Audi RS3
10 Jun 2021

First look at the new Audi RS3

Dartford Crossing toll changes and Dart Charge
Dartford Crossing
Tips and advice
8 Jun 2021

Dartford Crossing toll changes and Dart Charge

New Kia Sportage revealed with radical design
2021 Kia Sportage - front 3/4
Kia Sportage SUV
8 Jun 2021

New Kia Sportage revealed with radical design

Ford EcoBoost engines: what are they and should you buy one?
2020 Ford Puma - front tracking
Ford Focus hatchback
4 Jun 2021

Ford EcoBoost engines: what are they and should you buy one?

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

Best small cars and superminis
Renault Clio driving
Renault Clio
3 Jun 2021

Best small cars and superminis

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?
Tips and Advice
23 Mar 2020

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
24 Feb 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Best cars
10 Mar 2020

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
6 May 2021

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Hot hatches
9 Apr 2020

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks