McLaren's new 570S Spider has three very different personalities

Steaming along a Spanish motorway in McLaren's latest new model – the 570S Spider – is a great way to soak up its relaxed, easy going nature.

Sure, it looks like something Batman dreamt up before it was bombarded with glossy hues from a futuristic art class.

Yet the 570S Spider's look-at-me exterior – its roof and rear panels are the main differentiator from the regular 570S Coupe – is offset with a tranquil side.

Surprisingly supple suspension blends with a cabin that's relatively hushed to make for easy motorway miles.

And while the cabin is compact, it's still quite comfy; it's more the getting in and out that requires extra effort and precision, in part because of the low stance but also the theatrical dihedral doors that open up instead of out.

Fast glass

Of course, the Spider has more than enough bite to match its head-turning exterior.

Unleashing it depends on what you're doing with the roof and windows.

Lower the rear window, for example, and the Spider's aural persona changes.

Engineers plumbed two pipes into the cavity where the roof folds (the 52-litre space can also be used for storing small items, like a jacket) – and they're all about noise.

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At the other end of the pipes is the engine. The idea is to bring some of the appealing sound closer to the occupants, in turn ramping up the character that is crucial to any supercar.

Touchy issue

Drop your speed to 40km/h and the roof can be lowered in 15 seconds.

Once down, there's no shortage of air rushing into the cabin, especially above 100km/h.

Making sense of the a 7.0-inch vertical touchscreen is more of a challenge due to reflections. Plus, it's foiled by polarised sunglasses, so you'll have to remove them or tilt your head.

Raise the roof

Removing the roof also compromises the meticulous aerodynamics that are key to any McLaren.

Top speed, for example, drops to just 315km/h, well down on the 328km/h with the roof in place thanks to extra air swirling around the cabin.

Raising the side windows and the rear wind deflector improves things markedly, although there's still enough of the wind-in-your-hair sensation to overcome even the sturdiest hair wax.

Weighty stuff

Ripping the roof off a car often requires plenty of bracing to account for the lack of a key structural component.

Not with this Spider. That's because the core of its body is a carbon fibre tub, something that has immense strength, with or without a roof.

That said, the Spider is heavier than the coupe, but purely due to the new plastic roof panels and the electric motor and mechanism that allows the switch between roof and blue sky.

All up there's another 46 kilograms to contend with, although at 1423 kilograms it's still ludicrously light for a car with a proper sound system, a big engine and airbags all around.

Truth of the track

Despite those extra kilos, the 570S Spider logs the same 3.2-second 0-100km/h time as the fixed roof Coupe.

The dash to 200km/h takes 9.6 seconds, 0.1 seconds slower than the Coupe – although it's still mighty quick.

Engineers concede that a race track will see the Coupe extend its lead over the Spider – just.

But the reality is the 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 is not lacking in punch. There's 419kW (or 570 horsepower, hence the name) and 600Nm channelled through a slick-shifting seven-speed auto makes for awesome performance.

Bend and stretch

Like the Coupe, the Spider feels wonderfully agile, something on display on the mountainous roads of Catolonia in the east of Spain.

Pirelli P Zero rubber hangs on tenaciously and there's a fluidity to the way the 570S slinks into a bend.

You don't have to be pushing hard to be travelling briskly.

Carbon ceramic brakes halt proceedings confidently and there's a progressive solidity to the pedal feel.

Changing character

As well as mucking around with the positioning of the roof and the windows, drivers can adjust the temperament of the suspension and engine/transmission depending on their tastes and/or the driving conditions.

Two rotating knobs allow the choice between Normal, Sport and Track.

With each rotation the digital instrument cluster is also tweaked. Dial up Track on both parameters, for example, and you get individual tyre temperatures and a greater emphasis on the tachometer.

Even in its more aggressive setting the suspension is well behaved, better tying the car down for sportier steering.

Coupe or Convertible?

Purists will no doubt like the lighter body of the 570S Coupe.

But it's a moot point for anyone not looking to break a lap record.

The reality is the Convertible is every bit as quick and exciting. At $435,750 it costs $55K more, so ain't cheap.

But being able to temporarily lower the roof also (arguably) makes it more appealing.

Had a chance to test run the new 570S Spider? Share your experience in the comments section below.

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