McLaren's New Convertibles Are a Challenge to the Italians

McLaren Automotive is adding two droptops to its lineup as part of a plan to challenge more established brands including Ferrari and Lamborghini.

The $256,500, racetrack-ready 2020 McLaren 600LT Spider and the more luxurious $315,000 2019 McLaren 720S Spider arrive this month as the latest models under the British automaker’s $1.6 billion Track 25 growth plan.

In a quest to boost global sales and compete with rival supercar makers, McLaren Automotive is accelerating its product releases, turning out new models at a faster clip than its German and Italian competitors. The British company, which launched in 2011 with a single model, plans to produce 18 new models and derivatives by 2025.

Together with the 570S Spider, a convertible from the brand’s entry-level Sports Series, McLaren expects the topless trio to account for nearly half of its global sales this year.

The Track 25 initiative will help McLaren, one of the market’s youngest car companies, compete with established manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini. The McLaren name, established by 1960s Formula 1 champion Bruce McLaren, is well-known in its native England, but executives say the brand must raise global awareness and grow demand in other markets.

To that end, McLaren wants to show that its two new convertibles lose the roof without losing the performance. Chopping the top from what the brand calls its most luxurious coupe, the 720S Spider, whose roof lowers in a speedy 11 seconds, can go 202 mph when the roof is down, ranking it among the world’s fastest cars. When the roof is raised, both the spider and coupe versions clock a top speed of 212 mph.

As the latest car to be revealed under the Track25 business plan, the barebones, track-focused 600LT Spider lacks carpeting or a place to stow a smartphone, but the weight-savings pay off in performance. Despite extra pounds from its retractable hardtop, the convertible’s performance is nearly on par with its 600LT coupe counterpart, hitting 0 to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 201 mph.

The McLaren Speedtail, previewed last year as the newest model in the brand’s range-topping Ultimate Series and its first hyper-GT, is the first nameplate under Track 2025. Inspired by the McLaren F1, the Speedtail is a 1,035-horsepower, three-seater with a top speed of 250 mph. McLaren is only making 106 of them, at roughly $2.25 million a pop, and they’re sold out.

CarsJaclyn TropFortune