open-top McLaren 650s spider features two-piece retractable hard roof
open-top McLaren 650s spider features two-piece retractable hard roof
jul 31, 2014

open-top McLaren 650s spider features two-piece retractable hard roof

open-top McLaren 650s spider features two-piece retractable hard top
all images courtesy McLaren automotive




it’s not everyday McLaren lets you into their home – an amazing and almost clinical automotive headquarters designed by foster + partners – for a first drive with the McLaren 650s spider, a lengthy chat with some of the head designers, a tour through the manufacturing facilities and technology center, and a walk down the boulevard, which boasts a collection of some the most iconic formula one cars ever driven. designboom seized this opportunity, and flew down to woking in the UK for a one-of-a-kind experience.

mclaren 650s spider



the day started with a drive in the mclaren 650s spider, the convertible version of the luxury brand’s latest model, which was originally unveiled by McLaren automotive at the 84th international geneva motor show. joining the fixed-roof coupe variant, the new open-top super car is mechanically identical to the 650s coupé and is fitted with a british-built M838T twin turbo V8 engine, producing upwards of 641 horsepower and 500 lb ft of torque from the rear wheels. when paired to a seven speed SSG F1 transmission, it reaches a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) sprint of 3.0 seconds, 200 km/h (124 mph) in only 8.6 seconds and a top speed 329 km/h (204 mph). all this with a car that gets 24.2 miles to the gallon.

mclaren 650s spider



influenced by the design of the McLaren P1, the front bumper gives the 650s a clean appearance and sits below new LED headlamps which reflect a similar aesthetic to its older brother. an integrated front splitter contributes to increased levels of downforce; unique door blades behind the front wheels direct air from the trailing edges of the front splitter, further benefiting cornering grip and vehicle balance.

mclaren 650s spider



built on-site inside the 32,000-square metre two-story McLaren production centre (MPC), and engineered at the McLaren technology centre (MTC), the 650s spider features a carbon fiber monocell chassis, which requires no additional strengthening or reinforcing as a convertible. weighing just 1,370 kg, it handles and rides exactly like the coupe, and reaches identical straight-line performance figures despite having an additional 40 kg on-board from the retractable hard top and roof mechanism. the two-piece system can be automatically raised or lower in less than 17 seconds, and can be activated while stationary or at any speed up to 30km/h (19mph).

mclaren 650s spider

there’s no reduction in torsional strength due to unique carbon fibre monocell chassis 

mclaren 650s spider

detail view of the rear end



video courtesy McLaren automotive

mclaren 650s spider



as with the previous 12c spider, the 650s spider uses a heated glass rear window, operating independently of the roof. with the roof down, the rear window acts as a wind deflector, reducing cabin buffeting. roof up, the rear screen can be lowered to allow more engine noise into the cabin, and for a semi-open top driving experience even when it is raining.

mclaren 650s spider
like the P1, the 650s spider features active aerodynamics

mclaren 650s spider



the 650s spider is fitted with a high level of luxury equipment as standard; carbon ceramic brakes sit behind unique ‘650’ 19 and 20 inch lightweight alloy wheels wrapped in pirelli P zero corsa tires, IRIS satellite navigation with bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, wireless tethering, audio streaming and voice control are all fitted as standard, with the cabin fully trimmed in alcantara leather. 


the two piece roof can be raised or lowered in less than 17 seconds and on the move at speeds of up-to 30 km/h

mclaren 650s spider

the cabin fully trimmed in alcantara leather

mclaren 650s spider



stay tuned for the rest of this three part series, as designboom will cover an overview of the P1 and 650s manufacturing at the McLaren production centre, tour of the McLaren technology centre, and an interview with robert melville, head of design at McLaren.



about McLaren automotive


the connection between formula 1 and road cars at McLaren is a natural process of experience, knowledge, principles and process transfer. through the integration of 50 years of formula 1 racing expertise and knowledge, and 20 years of heritage in producing landmark sports cars, McLaren automotive designs, develops and builds the technologically advanced, groundbreaking and no compromise 12c, 12c spider and McLaren P1.


McLaren has pioneered the use of carbon fiber in vehicle production over the past 30 years, and since introducing a carbon chassis into racing and road cars with the 1981 McLaren mp4/1 and 1993 McLaren f1 respectively, McLaren has not built a car without a carbon fiber chassis.



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