Driving the McLaren 570S Spider is a dream

- In its short eight-year history, McLaren Automotive has quickly become one of the most exclusive sports car brands in the world.

I was lucky enough to borrow the 570S Spider and drive it around for the day. From the Cloisters to the parking lot at Orchard Beach, driving the 570S Spider is a dream.

Robert Melville, design director of McLaren Automotive, designed the car, which is part of the McLaren Sports Series. It's built around a carbon-fiber monocell, so even though the roof drops and folds away, you don't lose any performance.

Robert calls it a spider without compromise. He describes it as beautiful yet functional with extreme handling and dynamics, even at high speeds. It's lighter than the competition at around 2,976 pounds with mainly aluminum body panels.

Robert says it's the most engaging drive you'll ever have, and I think he's right. The 2018 Ventura Orange 570S Spider that I drove is an entry-level McLaren, if you will. It's one of only about 4,000 2018 McLarens in the entire world.

You get great visibility in the car. It's not intimidating to drive at all. It really allows you to have the most fun, Robert says, and feel really comfortable, which is what it's all about.

The car has about 562 horsepower and can go zero to 60 mph in about 3.2 seconds with top speeds around 205 mph.

Starting price tag on all that speed is $208,800. The version I drove topped $235,000.

While McLaren Automotive is a young company, it has a rich and storied racing history dating back to the 1960s when driver Bruce McLaren made his own F1 car. Today McLaren Automotive is self-funded and the team calls itself "fiercely independent."

The company has invested 1 billion pounds (about $1.33 billion) in research and development to release 15 new models by 2022.

Just don't expect a McLaren SUV. Robert says the brand is all about lightweight, nimble, dynamic cars, which they produce at the McLaren Technology Center in Surrey, England.

Robert says part of their design thinking is "simple but better." He believes the car should be intuitive so that when you sit in it you have everything at your fingertips with minimal distractions.

The focus, Robert says, is putting the driver at the center of the action, so he or she can focus on the driving experience, engage with the car, and have great fun.

Which is exactly what I did.

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