MCLAREN SPEEDTAIL – THEIR FASTEST CAR EVERDate: 2018-11-02
In terms of briefs, this must have been one of the toughest; the McLaren Speedtail needs to be a worthy successor to the 1993 McLaren F1 – basically, the world's first ever hypercar.
The McLaren F1, powered by a unique BMW-developed 6.1-litre V12 engine, had simply mind-blowing acceleration and a 243mph top speed but it's most unique feature was surely it's three seats with the driver piloting from the middle of the cockpit.
The McLaren Speedtail also has a three-seat setup and, although details of its powertrain are yet to be released, McLaren reckons it'll do 250mph. In fact, McLaren vehicle development boss, Andy Palmer, confirmed that the rear-drive Speedtail will accelerate from standstill to 186mph in a staggering 12.8 seconds. For some perspective, that means the Speedtail will be the fastest McLaren ever in terms of both acceleration and top speed.
For even more perspective, McLaren's own 904-hp P1 needs 16.5 seconds and Bugatti's Chiron takes about 13.6 seconds to reach the same velocity.
The bad news though is that all 106 Speedtails slated for production have been sold at $2.3 million (plus tax) each. Which is unsurprising really even though most customers had likely only seen CGI renderings of the car.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, 106 is the total number of original F1s McLaren sold between 1993 and 1998.
The Speedtail's underpinnings are courtesy of McLaren's 720S although the carbon-fibre Monocage tub is new. The passenger seats are mounted behind and on either side of the driver, moulded into the structure itself while a front bulkhead for the centre-mounted driver seat is new. The wheelbase is longer by two inches, freeing up space for the passengers and a battery for the 1,035-hp gas-electric hybrid powertrain.
Rob Melville, Mclaren's design chief, said he considers form following function for an ultra-high-performance McLaren, so, unlike the aggressive Senna designed for maximum downforce and cornering grip, the Speedtail is all flowing lines and swooping tail. In fact, it's 23.3 inches longer than the 720S, mostly made of that rear.
Speaking to Motor Trend, Melville said, "This has been a dream project, a concept car for the road. These proportions are super exotic, the sort of thing you draw in the studio."
It's not just a grown man's fantasy drawn on a napkin though, there's "science behind the art". Melville explains, "The rearmost point of the Speedtail, a sharply defined edge way out behind the rear wheels, is where the airflows over the upper and lower surfaces of the car meet."
And that's where McLaren placed a pair of small, flexible carbon fibre flaps near each corner. They can be raised into the airflow if more downforce is required for better stability at speed.
And talking of airflow, McLaren says every panel on the Speedtail is smoother than on its 720S sibling, including the super-slim headlights and level glazing over the entire cockpit. It's all designed specifically to calm the airflow. And it's not just the bodywork that gets special treatment. The Speedtail sports fixed carbon-fibre covers over the front wheels to reduce turbulence at speed. Obviously.
Hop inside and the glass cabin, infused with electrochromic technology to reduce sun glare, provides superb visibility for all aboard. The seats are wrapped in soft aniline leather and ahead of the driver sit three screens, the central one is the instrument panel, the left screen is for HVAC and navigation and the right one is for phone and media functions.
According to Melville, the Speedtail has space for a small case in its nose while bespoke travel bags sit in a small compartment behind the engine.
McLaren calls the Speedtail a hyper-GT and the first cars should be delivered in early 2020.
Check out the video below as Rory Reid takes us on a first-look tour of the Speedtail.