The McLaren F1 is one of the greatest and most iconic supercars in the world with the sole purpose of giving the driver maximum driving engagement behind the wheel. Naturally, its “successor” will have big shoes to fill. But the thing is, the McLaren Speedtail shares none of the ethos of the F1.
CEO of McLaren Automotive, Mike Flewitt said: “McLaren has never built a vehicle like the Speedtail before. As our first ‘Hyper-GT’, the Speedtail is the ultimate McLaren road car; a fusion of art and science that combines an astonishing maximum speed with an iconic central-driving position and a truly pioneering approach to bespoke personalisation.”
The Speedtail I the most powerful and most aerodynamically drag efficient McLaren ever produced, capable of achieving speeds of up to 403 km/h courtesy of a 1,050 hp petrol hybrid powertrain. The Woking-based carmaker did not reveal details of the powertrain but expect it to adopt an uprated version of its M840T twin-turbo V8 engine with 4.0-litres in displacement boosted by an electrical system.
With over 1,000 hp at its disposal, talking about 0 to 100 km/h times would be underplaying the performance of the rear-wheel drive Hyper-GT. Instead, McLaren would like to talk about 0 to 300 km/h sprint time which is claimed to be 12.8 seconds – 3.4 seconds quicker than the P1, bonkers.
To achieve this ludicrous top speed, engineers had to harness the power of aerodynamics. It’s 5,137 mm carbon fibre body was modelled after a teardrop – the fastest shape in nature – which creates the smoothest initial contact at the front splitter while the elongated tail bleeds off the flow to reduce turbulence.
McLaren has even fitted static wheel covers on the front wheels (don’t worry its removable) to ensure air flows through the body seamlessly. Notice that there are no physical exterior side mirrors to disturb airflow? That’s because the Speedtail uses a retractable camera – for minimum drag – that feeds a live feed onto the screens. When Velocity mode is engaged – essentially VMAX mode – the cameras are retracted into the doors to further reduce drag.
Open the dihedral doors and you’ll find a cabin with a central driving position flanked by two passenger seats. McLaren understands that it may be difficult to operate the doors when the driver is seated, hence they have installed powered doors that opens and closes with a touch of a button.
Like the Senna, the main control dials for the McLaren Active Dynamics Panel, gear selector and engine start/stop buttons are mounted on the roof, freeing up additional space in the cabin. The driver is then greeted by five display screens for the instrument cluster, infotainment system and rear-view display.
Tipping the scale at 1,430 kg (dry), McLaren had to innovate to shave every gram from the Speedtail without sacrificing the luxuriousness and customisation of the material used. From the 1K Titanium Deposition Carbon Fibre front splitter, diffuser and side skirts, Thin-Ply Technology Carbon Fibre (TPT) trimmings and full aniline leather material that is lighter by conventional material by 30 per cent. These innovations allow all 106 customers to tailor their Speedtail with McLaren Special Operations (MSO) to their individual tastes. It is virtually certain that no two examples will be identical.
“A ground-breaking hybrid powertrain sits within a lightweight carbon fibre body reminiscent of sleek ‘streamliners’ that once set world speed records, while the luxurious three-seat cockpit offers a sublime combination of an incredible driving experience, unmatched individualism and innovative materials never seen before in a road-going vehicle,” said Flewitt.
Only 106 units of the Speedtail will be created and all units have been spoken for, even before the project was announced by McLaren. Each example carries a base price of £1.75million plus taxes before adding on the personalisation options.