Living with a McLaren 650s Spider as an (almost) daily

Living with a McLaren 650s Spider as an (almost) daily

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davek_964

Original Poster:

6,075 posts

122 months

Sunday 25th August
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I collected my 650S Spider yesterday - it has replaced a couple of other cars and I plan to use it as a semi-daily car. I kept a running report of my Aston (one of the cars it replaced) and thought I'd do the same thing for the Spider. Similar to Justins 540 thread - however, I don't have his camera skills, a drone, or such stunning scenery nearby so mine is likely to be a tad less picture rich!

Before I give my first impressions of owning the car, I think it's worth summarising how I got here, what my expectations are etc. Some of this is mentioned on another thread but I'll repeat it here for completeness.

So - until yesterday I owned 4 cars. A Ferrari 360, an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, an old Porsche Cayenne and an Alfa Romeo Spider. Each has their strengths, but the car that really makes me smile on a bad day is the Ferrari - down a twisty road, it's magical - despite its age and (these days) relative lack of power. For me, it has the perfect balance of power / weight.

However, the g/f was less impressed with my car choices - or more particularly, the fact that when it's sunny I want to use the Aston or Ferrari, not the convertible Alfa. So a few months ago she suggested I should look at replacing the Ferrari or Aston with a convertible. My initial "no" gradually eroded and I started considering 458 Spiders or McLarens.

I have wanted a McLaren since the 12C came out - I still remember the first one I saw in the flesh, I thought it was amazing - although it never occurred to me that I'd ever own one.
I also think that the 458 is the first Ferrari in years where they've managed to make it as beautiful as the 355 - and they are supposed to be very good cars to drive as well (although I've never liked the styling of the centre vents).

In the end, I didn't look seriously at 458s though. The increased cost (Spider would be £40k more than I paid for the McLaren, and that would be for an older car) combined with the fact that I WANTED a McLaren meant I had to follow my heart. There is very little logic to it - it really is the kid in me thinking "those doors are so cool, and it's got an air brake!!!!!".

Initially, I intended to replace the 360. However, my initial test drive in the 650 threw me completely. The 360 feels like a pretty raw sports car - at lease compared to the 650. The 650 just felt very composed - it really did feel like a car your gran could drive to the shops - albeit very quickly. It reminded me very much of the 996 turbo I owned a few years back - very fast, but not very exciting.

However the kid in me still wanted one, and some interesting man maths meant that a deal was struck to part ex my Aston and Alfa for the McLaren. A second test drive down a twisty road I knew convinced me it was a good idea - and that maybe (in time) the McLaren could replace the 360,

I think it's important to clarify that I'm not going into this as a McLaren fanboy, You know all those people who say "I love the cars, but I'm not willing to buy one yet because they depreciate so fast / they don't have the dealer backup / they don't have the build quality" etc. etc? I am one of those people - I have even made similar comments in the past. £5k for a warranty????? £3k for a battery???? You must be kidding me.

I do have concerns about buying this car - not least that I've just wiped out a large amount of capital! I don't like the fact that everything is McLaren - I know Thorney exist, but that's hardly the same as a network of indies. On my Ferrari (and the Aston) - you could often find the part was the same as another much cheaper car and save yourself a fortune. With McLaren, you can't.
The consumables are likely to be eye watering. I mentioned batteries, but I've never ever wanted a car with carbon discs - but now I own one. On the other hand, I suppose they are supposed to last a long time......

Depreciation is (very) often mentioned with McLarens, and - in a time when other exotic cars were increasing in value - it clearly has been a problem. And I do think a lot of that is over supply - I did get the impression McLaren Ascot really were keen to shift some cars! On the other hand, my Spider cost me ~50% of its new price, maybe slightly more - and for a car approaching 5 years old that doesn't seem so bad. Obviously, considering the cost of these cars that's a lot of cash, and I no doubt lost money driving it off the forecourt - but on the other hand, this car really should be out of my league and the depreciation means I now own it!

So, I am going into this with eyes open. I've bought a car which I know won't be that easy to sell - on the other hand, people aren't exactly queueing around the block to buy Astons or Ferrari's either. I know that there will be costs which make my eyes water, and I may decide they are simply too high, I may decide it's an unreliable pile of junk and decide to ditch it - although if that's the case, at least I have a warranty until 2021.

Over the last few years, I have felt I spent too much on cars - especially when the Ferrari spends a lot of the year tucked up in the garage. So part of the thinking when buying this was that if I am going to start being more sensible with my money - I'd like to go out on a high! Plus - since I plan to use the car pretty much daily - at least until proper winter - it's a much more sensible use of money since it's not costing me money to service a car I rarely use. Obviously I still own the Ferrari, which does make that argument rather senseless - but I'm sticking to it.

I think that summarises my thoughts going into this. I have probably just made the worst financial decision of my life - but if I die next week, I'd rather have spent it driving a 650 Spider than checking my bank balance. Lets see how ownership actually goes.

davek_964

Original Poster:

6,075 posts

122 months

Sunday 25th August
quotequote all
So, yesterday I collected this :





I think we only covered 100-150 miles yesterday, because although the weather was perfect I've got a stinking cold at the moment. Even so, it was enough for some first impressions.

The initial impressions were not positive actually. When I got it home, I'm sure the reversing sensors were not working - front clearly were and are very obvious - but the rears didn't. Fortunately, no damage to the car when I touched the fence..... They did start working later in the day, so I will keep an eye on them.
Other negative was noticing this when I got the car home. I don't remember this when I viewed the car - and I did check the wheels. This is by far the worst (driver side rear) but one or two of the others are showing signs too :



So, not a great start. I sent a photo to McLaren Ascot and will visit them on Tuesday to see what they say.

Apart from that the car is in amazing condition. In the bright sunlight the paint sparkles -- far more than I realised it did when I viewed the car. It really is absolutely gorgeous.

I don't like cars that get attention, but I was aware this would. And it does - a lot. We stopped at a pub, and as we were paying the waiter asked about the car. I filled up with petrol and the cashier asked about the car. Driving through Tesco car park and a kid shouted out "is that a McLaren?". Kids at the house opposite mine came and stared at the car when they arrived home - and then sat in it and started it up. Was slightly concerned with the "how do I turn it off" while hovering his hand over the drive button!

When I test drove the car, I kept it in Auto mode and thought it was very good. But getting used to the manual changes yesterday, I then found it pretty annoying going back to auto. If you want to trundle around it's fine. If you want to go ballistically fast, it's fine. But anything in between doesn't work quite so well because it sits in such a high gear - although using Sport does help that.
Having said that, even in manual mode I'm not sure it's easy to avoid ballistic. There were a few times when I pulled out on a short dual carriageway to overtake somebody "normally". The problem is, "normally" still means speed builds very fast - it clearly takes some practice!

We took the car down a mix of roads yesterday, including a fast run down a twisty part of the A272, The car was amazing down that stretch of road - although I confess I found it slightly disappointing.
It was very impressive. Very very quick, and incredible brakes when braking from high speed. It literally cornered on rails - I'm sure I was cornering faster than I would have in the 360, and yet it really felt like the car could have done it much much faster. And I'm not sure that's actually a good thing - it might simply be too damn good for the road. And perhaps it lacks the drama that an old Ferrari does - which was my concern on my first test drive.
It's not to say I'm unhappy with the car - I'm very impressed with it and it will take me time to gel with it properly - it always does, But I felt that at the end of that run, my smile would have been bigger in the Ferrari.
Interestingly though - my g/f's reaction was different from mine. Although we do go quickly in the 360, she's never been a big fan of going fast down a twisty road. We do - but it's clearly not her favourite thing - and when I took for around Rockingham on the Supercar weekend she made me go back to the pits after one lap.
At the end of the run in the McLaren, she said : "That was amazing!", She says she feels much safer in it, and although it's much faster it feels much more controlled.
For a passenger, that's obviously a good thing - as a driver, I'm not sure yet if it is. It does confirm that the McLaren lacks the drama my 360 has.
But again, that's not to say I'm disappointed. This is exactly the reason the 650 didn't replace the Ferrari. And it's very early days - I need to get used to the car and what it can do

The suspension is amazing, it really does work very well on crap English roads in Normal. My only complaint - and it is an odd one when you consider the car - is that if you're really not in the mood, and just want to trundle along in auto / normal then it can't quite manage it - because it's a bit loud. It never quite lets you forget that it's kind of pretending to be normal.....

Overall, I'm very happy with the car. I'm disappointed with the wheels - I'm sure they weren't like that when I viewed the car - but hopefully that can be sorted
The car will be living outside - it won't fit in my garage, and although it would be lovely to build a much bigger garage or move to a mansion with a 6 car garage - if I did that, I couldn't afford the cars to put in it!

I intend to update this thread regularly - especially in the beginning. Hopefully, it will tend more towards the "it's still amazing" than "bloody hell, something else has broken". Time will tell.

Oh - and I must confess, the novelty of the doors might wear off. They are soooooo cool, But I'm already thinking it would be easier to get in with normal doors! On the other hand - I can see my brake pads are going to last 5 minutes. It is actually worth going fast with Aero engaged just so I can brake hard and watch the air brake flip up. I really am a child - I do have cool toys though.

David W.

1,439 posts

156 months

Sunday 25th August
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davek

Thanks for taking the trouble to do the write up. Very interesting for someone who has been a longish term Porsche man (with a brief unsuccessful foray into modern Aston ownership) and is looking now at the possibility of getting into a Mac without wanting to make the mistake again of wanting an early divorce (the car type).
The 540 thread was similarly interesting although it went off course somewhat mid way as they seem to on here!!!
I look forward to further bulletins.

jamieo

163 posts

159 months

Sunday 25th August
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Good write up and good on you for being open and so honest about your experience and the car. It is things like this that helped me make a decision too.

Parking sensors should just work, if it’s some intermittent fault that is a pain. Wheels should not be like that. My 650 with diamond cut I got a 2nd set of wheels in stealth, preferred the look and the diamond cut are quite fragile. For everyday you may be better off without them, unless you really do love them. The glassy finish on them is gorgeous. Wheel Works in Crawley can refurbish them if you ever need them fixing at some point, and they can change them to any other finish. But I’d get Ascot to sort them.

Join McLaren Owners Club if you haven’t, good community of advice and events

davek_964

Original Poster:

6,075 posts

122 months

Sunday 25th August
quotequote all
I need to build up to McLaren owners club - I'm not on Facebook and don't really want to be. But can't do much until I have the V5 anyway, so we'll see.

Thanks for the advice on the wheels.

First fault today! I've been going in and out of the car to play with the audio stuff and one time it refused to unlock by touch. When I opened with the key fob, the window dropped much further than usual and didn't go up when I closed the door. Had to do it with the window switch, and now seems happy again.

However, although that's obviously not a great start on day 2 - my 360 sometimes gets confused about what the windows should do. So I'm not really counting that as concern.

Incidentally - maybe because I'm a bit unwell, I didn't really get an 'Oh my god' moment when I collected the car yesterday. But this morning, when I opened the bedroom curtains and saw it on the drive - and even more when I walked out to it - I really did. That is one damn good looking car.

355spiderguy

598 posts

118 months

Sunday 25th August
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Congratulations and nice write up.

Wasn't entirely sure if you would change your mind even after placing deposit as you have posted a good few doubts; suppose only natural if like myself that's still a pretty decent amount of money to spunk on a car!

Only doubt i had was 4am the next morning after collecting as i thought a volcano orange spider was just toooo in your face, and that was after 15 years of constant Ferrari spiders ownership....however, no car i have ever owned has attracted 100% positive attention like the Mac...not one single hater or bad comment.

Like yourself, my wife 'liked' the Ferraris, but in my case didn't even once drive any of them and felt very self conscious with roof down if we were out.

In the Mac, she loves driving it, and her and my daughter regularly use it for mincing about with the roof down to go and get their nails done and the like as its so user friendly.

The wheels are a poor effort by McLaren.

Diamond cut wheels do not do that over a period of weeks; it may of got worse but that would of been present when you 1st viewed but easy to miss with everything else going on. They should never of put it out like that as they shall remedy but you will be missing the car now for 4-5 days at some point, where they have had weeks to remedy an issue they knew they would have to remedy.

Have a great weekend in the sun with it.

thumbup

justin220

4,207 posts

151 months

Sunday 25th August
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Great thread, and looking forward to the updates. Must admit I'm surprised at your disappointment. Are you comparing it to the Aston it replaced, or the 360?

The doors never get old. Just a bit of a pain in tight spaces. Hopefully Ascot sort the wheels for yoh

David W. said:
The 540 thread was similarly interesting although it went off course somewhat mid way as they seem to on here!!!
I look forward to further bulletins.
Out of interest, which part?

davek_964

Original Poster:

6,075 posts

122 months

Sunday 25th August
quotequote all
justin220 said:
Great thread, and looking forward to the updates. Must admit I'm surprised at your disappointment. Are you comparing it to the Aston it replaced, or the 360?
I liked the Aston a lot. But there isn't really a comparison - the McLaren is far better at what I used the Aston for (although the sound system in the Aston was awesome).

I meant the Ferrari. I think it's probably an unfair comparison - I've owned the Ferrari for 6 years and at that point hadn't even owned the McLaren for 6 hours. But the Ferrari has 'something' when you're thrashing it down a twisty road and I haven't found it in the McLaren yet. But - I remember that I only really found that in the Ferrari after my first supercar weekend - using it on the track really showed me what it could do, and I have enjoyed the car much more since then. I suspect the same is probably true of the 650 - but I also think it's partly because it is so amazingly capable. It literally feels glued to the road around the bends and made me feel quite inadequate!

RBT0

1,049 posts

66 months

Sunday 25th August
quotequote all
Congrats! Nice colour as well.

Put some pics of interiors if you can.

They're refined cars as 570S I guess, I think only LTs can give you that raw feel but safe drive to keep you and your gf happy. But hey, even with less raw it's a lot for a supercar.

davek_964

Original Poster:

6,075 posts

122 months

Sunday 25th August
quotequote all
As requested, a couple more pics.








David W.

1,439 posts

156 months

Sunday 25th August
quotequote all
justin220 said:
Out of interest, which part?
Actually you’re right. That one did 4 pages of sensible conversation, it must have been another that mentioned MOC!

MAC 720S

606 posts

94 months

Sunday 25th August
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davek_964 said:
As requested, a couple more pics.







That’s a pleasant sight to wake up to on a Sunday morning. Orange is the fastest colour - so I’ve been told. I’ve had a couple of cars with the diamond cut wheels. They look great to begin with, but eventually craze and/or go milky. I believe it’s something to do with the lacquer not having a base primer paint to adhere to. As it will be used daily, it may be worth considering having them painted in a more serviceable solid colour? Maybe the dealer will arrange for this to be done instead of them being re-lacquered? A dark smoked chrome effect would contrast nicely against the orange. I’ll probably have it done when mine need a refurb.

The problem with these Macs, is that they are just too damned fast and accomplished for normal road use. I’ve heard several owners comment that to get the best out of them, you need to be in serious license losing / go-to-jail territory. I went on a hoon around the Cotswolds yesterday with ten other Macs. It wasn’t until we got onto some real twisties, that they show their capability.

Let’s hope your impressions improve after a few more miles.

drcarrera

583 posts

172 months

Sunday 25th August
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Great write up. Thanks for posting and I look forward to future updates ...! The car looks amazing.

12pack

902 posts

115 months

Sunday 25th August
quotequote all
Great and balanced write-up, Davek. FWIW I originally thought I
I’d chop my V12 Vantage when I got the 650, but decided to keep it.

I came from a 355, and the found the V12Vantage far more raw and entertaining than the Fezza. I drive it occasionally to keep in touch with with manual rev matching, and drove it in the nice warm dry weather yesterday.

But what was once raw and entertaining now feels like poor engineering. Too much body roll for such a harsh suspension, too much bump steer, and just a tad too slow.

And I’m learning to left foot brake in the 650.

Give a few more weeks, and see how you feel about your 360.....

And it should be very easy to refurb the wheels. That’s a common issue with diamond cut wheels when the leading edge opens up a bit to let moisture in under the finish.



Edited by 12pack on Sunday 25th August 12:07

johnwilliams77

5,788 posts

50 months

Sunday 25th August
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Very enjoyable read
Hope it works out for you

RBT0

1,049 posts

66 months

Sunday 25th August
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Pristine interior to me! Although I am not a fan of "soon or later shiny" leather.

dazmanultra

174 posts

39 months

Sunday 25th August
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Enjoy your 650S - ours must have rolled off at similar times since my old car's reg plate is very similar. Performance wise they are absolute monsters, scarily so as you've found in some circumstances. I really enjoyed my car and will almost certainly have a McLaren at some point again in the future. Comfort wise they are superb, for a supercar they ride beautifully and are quite capable of eating up motorway miles.

LotusJas

899 posts

178 months

Sunday 25th August
quotequote all
Great write-up, and congratulations again on the car.

Do reconsider the MoC though, as it will substantially enhance your McLaren experience. Even if you just create a FB account just for that one thing.

Regarding the excitement, that will increase a lot as you get used to the car. Its capability is so far beyond your previous cars that you will need to recalibrate what you expect from a car. First time on track will help a lot with that, as will simply time behind the wheel.

Its lightweight carbon structure, "magic" suspension and active aero make it much more special than your previous cars IMO.

My McLaren still shocks me with how capable and mind blowingly rapid it is.

rickyneil

73 posts

71 months

Sunday 25th August
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Lotusjas is right on the money

Fantastic cars and you will struggle to get better for the money.

Also don’t be put off by the MOC and Facebook, I’ve never been into it but now use it solely for the club. All the posts are private so no issue with other friends/clients/relatives making any judgements.

The value of being a member is huge.

davek_964

Original Poster:

6,075 posts

122 months

Monday 26th August
quotequote all
Obviously I'm not going to update this thread daily - but since I've had it a couple of days now I thought I'd add a few more thoughts.

The paintwork really is stunning - the weather has been perfect for showing that, and in direct sunlight it's stunning. Volcano Orange seems to be about 4 different colours depending how the light is falling.

IRIS is crap. I'd heard it was in the 12Cs, and thought it was better - but I'm not sure it is. It's crashed on me once when I entered the car and couldn't even play the radio. It was fine once the car was locked / used later.
Actually - the sound quality is crap too - at least it is with the roof down. I think I tried it on the test drive (with the roof on) and thought it was pretty good but I'm not impressed with it so far. To be fair, the Aston had a superb sound system - and I think I only have the basic Meridian package in the car - but I think it should be better.

Since I'm mentioning the negatives - most of the interior is pretty nice - carbon, leather etc. However - while routing the cable from the USB port to the front of the car for the dash cam etc - it was clear that some parts (e.g. the sides of the centre tunnel) are cheap plastic - pretty poor on a car that expensive. I think the Aston interior was better quality.

But - that's certainly enough of the negatives.

Today, I got my first drive without g/f in the passenger seat. Not all that long - 20 mins - but it was a chance to have a bit more fun. Traffic limited it somewhat, but even so it was very very good. Cornering really was amazing - not a twisty road this time, but out of town roundabouts.
In fact, although one of the most obvious things about the car is its acceleration (and I suppose top speed) - that's not really what impresses me the most - it is all the other stuff (the suspension, cornering and brakes).

I'm sitting here now, feeling pretty unhealthy due to the cold I've had all week and glad I can just do nothing for the rest of the day. And yet, I'm thinking - the g/f isn't around, I could take the car on a 100 mile run...... That has to be a good sign!

Gratuitous pic



Edited by davek_964 on Monday 26th August 15:38