And it’s a crazy, aero-focused take on McLaren’s existing design formula, with a central driving position.
The wait is over, the teasers are done, and McLaren has finally whipped the covers off the three-seat Speedtail.
We’ve seen countless previews and tasters for this car, which harks back to the legendary F1 with a central driving position and build run of just 106, but the finished product has remained a tightly-guarded secret. Until now.
Here are the headline numbers: power comes from a hybrid powertrain delivering 772kW to the rear wheels, good for a 300km/h sprint time of 12.8 seconds. No, that’s not a typo. This car will hit 300km/h in less than 13 seconds from standstill, more than three seconds faster than the P1 could manage. Wow.
Although that prodigious powertrain is part of the equation, clever aerodynamics are at the core of this car’s performance. The body is made entirely of carbon-fibre (dry weight is 1430kg) and measures 5137mm long, with a teardrop shape when viewed from above. It’s actually skinnier than a P1, too.
There are almost no cutlines to disrupt the airflow, with a huge one-piece clamshell covering the rear end. McLaren hasn’t bothered with mirrors, instead opting for pop-out cameras that hide away when the car is switched off, and the front wheels are finished with (very cool) carbon-fibre aero covers.
They stay stationary as the 20-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels hiding within spin furiously, making sure air stays ‘attached’ to the car and into the blades on the leading-edge of the doors. The tyres are bespoke Pirelli P-Zero units, developed specifically to handle the specific demands of this unique car.
Although the headlights are similar to those of the 720S, the eye-socket intakes have been subbed for slim vertical units directing air to a pair of ‘low-temperature radiators’ on each side. Any air that doesn’t get sucked into those intakes is directed over the bonnet, into two upper air vents, before flowing through the body and exiting the lower door vents.
McLaren is particularly keen to highlight the active ailerons attached to the trailing edge of the car’s rear-end. They can act like rear spoiler at speed or an airbrake under heavy deceleration, but they’re not technically spoilers. Instead, they’re integrated into the clamshell and bend.
Without any ugly gaps or cutlines to create drag, they offer all the benefits of a spoiler without creating any additional pace-sapping turbulence on a top-speed run.
Behind the wheel, the most noticeable design feature is the central driving position. The seat is trimmed in a new kind of leather, designed to allow people to slide effortlessly across its bolsters without compromising the way they’re held in place under heavy g-forces.
Passengers sit in a pair of seats flanking the driver, integrated into the carbon-fibre tub. Vision was a focus, with the windscreen extending into the roof to create a fighter-jet style canopy, aided ably by glass sections in the dihedral doors and roof. Even the gear-selection buttons on the roof have been shaped around a skylight of sorts.
Electrochromic glass has been used, allowing the area where sun visors would usually sit to dim when required. Outward visibility has been a focus for McLaren recently, with unique solutions developed for the 720S, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to see the flagship GT taking things a step further.
The driver is faced with a widescreen infotainment and digital instrument binnacle, along with screens for the two high-resolution rear-view cameras. As you’d expect, only the finest materials have been used: milled aluminium for the switches, carbon-fibre for the steering wheel, leather and suede everywhere else.
While we’re talking leather, the interior team has chosen special Scandinavian hides for the dashboard and passenger-seat trim, tanned using only vegetable oils. Dark Glacier, pictured here, is new on this car and, we’re sure you’ll agree, looks pretty damn cool.
Expect no two cars to be the same, given the full gamut of McLaren Special Operations (MSO) personalisation options will be offered.
Just 106 examples will be built, and they’re all accounted for. Pricing starts at a cool £1.6 million ($2.9 million) but, given the array of options that’ll be offered, expect owners to pay well over that number before cars are delivered early in 2020.
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