This is the McLaren Speedtail, the long-awaited successor to the company’s F1 supercar from the nineties and a vehicle designed to give the Woking concern a top-end rival to the likes of the Bugatti Chiron.
The Speedtail is being billed by McLaren as a ‘hyper-GT’ and its standout feature lives up to that billing (and brings lineage from the F1) because the car is a three-seater. The driver is positioned centrally, with two passengers behind and at either side – although unlike the F1, the Speedtail’s driver seat can be accessed from either side, due to the lack of a gearlever.
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The car certainly won’t want for road presence, thanks to its 5.2m-long body; the Speedtail is basically same the length as a long-wheelbase Mercedes S-Class limousine. The front end takes established McLaren design cues but stretches them to the extreme, particularly the ultra-slim front headlights and the slats at either side of the front bumper that allow fast-moving air to pass along the car’s flanks.
The side profile is dominated by the Speedtail’s extraordinary rear overhang – surely one of the longest on any production car – and the front wheel, which uses a fixed cover to keep the air fed through the front-bumper slats as clean as possible as it goes along the side of the vehicle. It looks an unusual effect, with the ‘solid’-looking front wheel and a conventional alloy at the rear, although McLaren says the fixed cover can be removed if required.
The side panels themselves look remarkably clean, because the Speedtail lacks conventional side mirrors. Instead it has a pair of cameras which slide out from the doors themselves to capture wide-angle imagery of each side of the car; this footage is then displayed, real-time, on a pair of screens mounted on top of the dashboard.
The ‘speed tail’ itself contains some cutting-edge technology that’s designed to help keep the Speedtail on the road at speed. A pair of flaps has been cut into the rear bodywork, and they move up to different angles to create extra downforce when required – such as in a corner or under heavy braking.
The ailerons do this without the use hinges, however; in a bid to smooth out the Speedtail’s bodywork as much as possible, McLaren’s engineers have used the flexible properties of key pieces of the carbonfibre panel to build in enough bend in the flaps for hydraulics to push them up and pull them down. They play their part in the car’s low drag coefficient – yet to be confirmed but said by McLaren to be the lowest of any of its road cars to date.
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McLaren is still finalising elements of the car’s performance figures and it doesn’t expect to release a full technical specification until next spring. But we already know some of the Speedtail’s startling raw numbers. Its petrol-electric hybrid powertrain is based around the firm’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine – and like the set-up in the Ferrari LaFerrari, it’s designed to boost performance; there’s no scope for electric-only running. The system’s batteries can be replenished using induction charging.
The total system power is 1050PS and the car weighs a modest 1,430kg – a combination that delivers a top speed of 403kph (250mph) and a 0-300kph (0-186mph) dash in just 12.8 seconds. That’s almost four seconds faster than the acceleration figure posted by McLaren’s own track-focused P1 supercar.
The Speedtail is designed to be the ultimate road car, though, so part of the reason for its extraordinary rear end is luggage space. There’s a central compartment at the back, as well as space below the front bonnet – and a set of bespoke Speedtail luggage means that overnight luggage for the three occupants can be carried.
Just 106 examples of the Speedtail will be built, starting towards the end of next year, and all have already been sold. Indeed, the lucky buyers – each of them limited to one car per order – only saw the vehicles that they’d committed to buying for the first time a couple of weeks ago.
Their final invoices are likely to extend way beyond the Speedtail’s list price of £1.75million plus taxes – because an extensive options list allows huge scope for personalisation – everything from different fabric materials and patterns to bespoke paint jobs and even an 18-carat gold McLaren badge and Speedtail lettering. The last of those costs a cool £50k but the car featured in these early images has around £475,000 of options fitted.
Speedtail customers are said to have been assured that there will be no convertible version of the car, and no subsequent hardcore GTR variant, in a bid to maintain exclusivity. McLaren says it had just over 300 serious enquires from established customers, and that those who weren’t able to get an order slot for the Speedtail were given priority for the Senna and Senna GTR track cars.
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source: AutoExpress Best Car Reviews (autoexpress.co.uk)