On a bright sunny Miami morning back in 2019, I stepped into a McLaren 720S for the first time. Up until that point, I thought I had speed figured out, with plenty of seat time in supercars from various brands. However, when I slammed my foot down, and that 720S sprung into life, I realized I had it all wrong. Nothing accelerated like it, and with its turbo noise whistling behind my ears as it violently pinned me to my seat, I learned the difference between supercar and hypercar levels of performance.

To my delight, nearly three years later, the British carmaker tossed me the keys to a 2022 McLaren 720S Spider for a few days. Knowing well just how fast this car already was, my real goal was to figure out whether or not chopping off the roof fundamentally changes the driving experience. However, despite the added heft from the retractable hardtop roof, it's clear that McLaren's engineers are part-time wizards. Only magic could deliver a drop-top that handles this well while delivering tremendous performance. Spoiler alert, the Spider, is the one to get.

Function Over Form

The 2022 McLaren 720S Spider is far from the prettiest thing on four wheels. However, there's a real sense that it's less styled and more shaped by aerodynamics. Take the hollow headlights, for example, which allow air to flow through to a few hidden coolers. A quick look at the lower front valance reveals even more intakes, seemingly disguised by the gloss black paint. Even the doors have a trick up their sleeve, helping channel air around the car.

Step around to the rear, and the things heat up thanks to the massive adjustable rear wing. While it mainly generates downforce as you accelerate, the wing doubles as an air brake when you stomp on the stop pedal. Aside from its sheer size, its many positions give the 720S a distinct look, whether you're stopped at a light or blasting through the canyons. Perhaps the best part of the 720S's design is the twin exhaust tips that shoot out of the front bumper, flanked by two thin LED taillights reminiscent of those in the P1. 

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My tester's Amaranth Red paint and matte black wheel combo work beautifully, effortlessly reflecting light with plenty of sparkles while teetering somewhere between orange and burgundy. While black wheels often get lost in a void, my tester's set matches well with the rest of the black trim found throughout the car. Overall, there is no denying that the 720S looks purpose-built, regardless of the angle, and in this case, extreme attention to detail is perhaps even more impressive than just a pretty face.

No Drop Top Drawbacks

Convertibles almost always weigh more than their fixed-roof counterparts, and the 2022 McLaren 720S Spider is no different. However, none of that weight comes from additional chassis strengthening. Thanks to its carbon fiber monocoque construction, the 720S's chassis remains just as stiff, even when without a roof. Instead, the added 108 lb comes from the retractable hardtop, which can fold away in 11 seconds up to 31 mph.

On the road, the 720S Spider's twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 works as a great equalizer thanks to its 710 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque output. With that much power, the Spider hits 60 mph in 2.8 seconds. However, the impressive part is that it's no slower than the Coupe, marking no speed drawbacks. Flat out, it'll reach 124 mph in 7.9 seconds before continuing to its 212 mph top speed.

There is nothing subtle about how the 720S Spider accelerates. With peak torque coming in at 5,500 rpm, there's a slow build through the lower part of the rev range until its turbos spool up, and you get the full punch. Thanks to the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission sending continuous power to those rear wheels, the 720S doesn't let up once it hits boost. 

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As I mentioned in the intro, this car redefined what speed meant to me years ago, and practically nothing has changed since. Despite stiff competition from across the globe, 720S sits on the performance throne as far as its segment is concerned. 

Throw it into a corner, and the 720S Spider only gets better. Thanks to a fully independent suspension, it's tough to unsettle the car as none of its wheels are physically connected. This allows you to take even the roughest roads at speed while retaining complete stability. Speaking of stability, there is no way to tell you're in a convertible with the top up. There is no lack of rigidity or drawback in terms of handling dynamics. Additionally, its active dampers allow the 720S to be easily the most comfortable supercar I've ever driven. 

Raw performance aside, the 720 Spider's party piece is its steering. While most of its competitors rely on electric power steering, McLaren has stuck to a hydraulic setup. The result is excellent feedback through the wheel. It's also quick, making the car's front end feel agile and light. 

Lastly, we've got the brakes. While the large air brake in the rear certainly helps out, McLaren gives you carbon-ceramic stoppers as standard. You have to stomp on the pedal to get their peak performance. Once hooked up, the 720 Spider's brakes offer tremendous performance that's seemingly endlessly repeatable.

A Truly Daily Drivable Supercar

Many supercars now double as potential daily drivers, and the McLaren 720S Spider may be the best one. While its independent suspension and adaptive dampers play a significant role, its overall comfort is supplemented by a comfortable, well-appointed interior. For starters, McLaren purposely lowers the height of the door sill, making it easier to get in and out of the driver's seat. 

Once inside, my tester's leather and suede interior continue the performance theme with a comfortable edge. The seats are spacious enough if you're carrying a couple of extra pounds while keeping you perfectly in place through tight corners. Additionally, they're far from rock hard, meaning even longer road trips should be a breeze. 

In front of the driver, there's a swiveling digital instrument cluster that changes as you move through different driving modes. In track mode, the screen pitches down, revealing a smaller screen on top with just your revs and speed. The whole act of the screen moving is exciting to see, almost marking a special occasion when going for a drive. 

While the vertically oriented screen in the middle houses McLaren's sleek infotainment system, it lacks Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, a real bummer since this car's closest competitors at least offer smartphone connectivity as an option.

On the move, the 720S Spider's interior is surprisingly quiet. Thanks to using a hardtop instead of a soft one, there's good sound isolation, although you'll always be a quick throttle push away from sweet turbo noises. All around, the 720S builds the daily drivability side of its character without detracting from its central role as a supercar in any way. 

Big Performance Comes With A Big Price Tag

As great as the 2022 McLaren 720S Spider is to drive and live with, that performance comes at a significant sum. In the US, this car has a starting price of around $318,000. However, with optional extras such as the carbon fiber trim, my tester's price hovers closer to $375,000.

After spending a few days behind the wheel, it's clear to me that the 720S Spider delivers on just about every front. Whether it's outright performance or livability, this McLaren shines as completely worth its price tag. Additionally, there's no penalty for choosing the Spider variant. Instead, you gain the sweet sounds of a turbocharged V8 right behind your ears. Above all else, my biggest takeaway is that despite not having driven one for years and driving just about everything else since then, the 720S is still easily one of the most impressive vehicles I've ever driven.