Test Drive: The McLaren 650S Spider 2016

McLaren Automotive

The new, show-stopping vehicle takes on the Hamptons’ winding roads with speed, agility, and the head-turning looks to match. 

I’m in the Hamptons test-driving the McLaren 650S Spider hard on some curvy, underused asphalt that I’ve discovered on a tip from a local friend, who's sitting in the passenger seat. We slow down at an intersection and pull up behind a Mercedes-Benz. To our surprise, the driver of the Benz twists his body out the window and looks back at us.

“What the heck is that?” He yells.

It isn’t easy to get noticed in the Hamptons, a string of villages on Long Island’s South Shore, famous as the playground of well-to-do New Yorkers. Hot cars are a common sight here, but our sculpted, white, British-made McLaren 2016 650S Spider turns even jaded heads. Our admirer revs his engine; the invitation is obvious. We embark on an engine-roaring ride that prudently ends when we realize that our new friend is nearly out of control, because he’s busy watching the McLaren in his rear-view mirror.

It’s easy to see why. The front of the 650S is dramatic and clean in its design, while the large side intakes only add to the coupe’s distinctive look. When parked, the dihedral doors swoop upwards with a flair, causing most other cars to appear common in comparison. Even the interior is tight, as if the driver were the last bolt required in the two-door’s construction. Famous for its Formula 1 vehicles, McLaren constructed this Spider as more than a stripped down racer; if you don’t see this two-door coming, you’ll certainly hear it. The twin-turbo, V-8 engine sounds like it is ripping a hole in the air around you as the car accelerates. The speed tops out at 204 miles-per-hour and hits 60 by the time you can count to three.

Designed for everyday use, however, the driving experience is smooth and nimble, and I always feel in control. The seats are comfortable and the cabin is well-appointed; the control knob for the Meridian entertainment system, for example, has the look of a high-performance amplifier in an expensive home theater set-up. The Spider designation means the top comes down, and there’s also a small rear window that opens for semi open-air driving. Don’t expect a lot of cargo space, though—the trunk is just about big enough to carry two bottles of champagne.

My buddy graciously invites me to stay the night at his house. Come morning I wake to the distinctive sound of a throbbing engine belonging to another supercar passing by. Sounds like another challenge. From $284,500; cars.mclaren.com.

Photo Credit: Courtesy McLaren