So many months have passed since McLaren teased the heck out of us with sexy veily graphics and CGI animations of the Speedtail. I was so intrigued I just had to post the graphic on my Instagram and prayed the Speedtail would be prettier than the Senna. Fast forward a few more months to 26th October 2018, McLaren today finally took the veil off the successor to the iconic McLaren P1. The Speedtail is a Hyper GT and the newest hypercar to come out of Woking. More about the Hyper GT bit in a bit.
Hyper GT? What is that?
Well, let me educate you. The Speedtail is McLaren's first ever foray into a category they are calling the Hyper-GT which aims to blend extraordinary performance of a hypercar, the comfort of a grand tourer (GT) with exotic materials and luxury not yet seen this side of the milky way.
McLaren says the new Speedtail is the speediest and most powerful road car McLaren has had the pleasure of creating. The hyper GT is so fast it will reach 250mph a full 7mph faster than the iconic record-breaking McLaren F1 I had hanging on my wall as a kid. Before we get all nostalgic eyed about the F1 here is something to stop you on your nostalgic tracks. You see despite the similarities and comparisons to the legendary McLaren F1, the new speedtail is not actually a direct replacement to the F1, it is more of a spiritual successor. Did I stop you on your nostalgic tracks? Sorry.
According to a guy called Mike Flewitt who also happens to be McLaren Automotive's CEO "McLaren has never built a car quite like the Speedtail"
He said “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. A ground-breaking hybrid powertrain sits within a lightweight carbon fibre body reminiscent of sleek ‘streamliners’ that once set world speed records, while the first-ever 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.”
Slight side track
Is it just me or does Mr Flewitt sound very much like that fruit company who makes iPhones? Especially the bit about Fusion of art and science bit?
For those who follow McLaren closely like me, we know the P1 was groundbreaking in terms of the technology of the hybrid powertrain thanks to McLaren's Formula 1 expertise. Similar to the P1, the new Speedtail Hyper GT has a technologically advanced hybrid powertrain able to produce a monsterous 1,035 horsepower in combination with an electric motor.
All this power is delivered to the rear wheels with enough umph to reach 250mph in a flash. Reaching the target 250mph top speed enlists the help of some technological wizardry McLaren are calling Velocity mode, when activated the hybrid powerplant is optimised and the angle of some unique hingeless aero elements are adjusted for maximum slipperyness. To make the hyper GT as slippery as an eel through the wind the rear view cameras magically retract themselves into the body and the car lowers itself by 1.3 inches. Just to picture how low that is in velocity mode think just 44 inches is the highest point of the car from the road. That is automotive limbo at its finest.
Under the skin of the Speedtail
Carbon fibre has been woven into McLaren's DNA for quite some time and as you would expect they might have gone a bit carbon fibre crazy with the Speedtail. The news is the Speedtail is built around a tailor-made McLaren Monocage carbon fibre structure with the ultimate goal being super lightweight. McLaren has gone the extra mile in the name of weight saving by actually re-inventing what we knew about carbon automotively speaking, they moved from a process called 3K to another called 1K which makes carbon even lighter and with tighter weaves.
The new weaving process is so cool you can even weave patterns, words and even your face into the pattern, I love that feature, I would so weave my face in there somewhere. Another super lightweight material is aluminium which McLaren is using for the active suspension, carbon ceramic brakes to stop you as you run out of road at 250mph.
McLaren has done all it can to keep the Speedtail on a very strict weight watching program, the whole car is a very skinny 1430kg dry, all the weight watching means the Speedtail will sprint from 0 to a very speedy 182mph in a speedy 12.8 seconds. The P1 took a tortoise like 16.5 seconds to touch 182 mph. Time to sell your P1 anyone?
Fast rubber Pirelli P-zero
All this speedyness means normal road tires would probably turn to clouds which would be rubbish if wanna see what 250mph looks like. To help you stare 250mph in the face McLaren turned to some people who call themselves Pirelli, they apparently know a thing or 2 about fast rubber. The story goes Pirelli got to work and came up with the tailor-made P-Zero set of boots the Speedtail capable of dealing with extreme speed. Since we are talking about wheels thought you'd want to know that the Speedtail has 20 inch forged alloy wheels specifically designed to minimise drag, they do the drag reduction bit by remaining stationary as the wheel spins, I for one can't actually wait to see this very feature in the wild.
A tale of 2 siblings and an eagle
Let's be honest the McLaren Senna is unlikely to win any beauty contests unless its mother is adjudicating said beauty contest, to some the speedtail isn't that much prettier either but the 2 siblings couldn't be any more different, I would say a case of different fathers for sure. You see the Speedtail is a bit more elegant thanks to its more aerodynamic shape Mclaren are using as a weapon to bludgeon wind resistance to oblivion.
If an eagle flew above a Speedtail and you asked Mr Eagle what the Speedtail looked like from above he or she-eagle would say it looks like a tear drop, after extensive consultations with nature McLaren engineers decided the teardrop is indeed nature's speediest shape giving rise to the Hyper GT.
To help the tear-shaped Speedtail defeat the wind McLaren binned the traditional age-old wing mirrors, they went for a digital camera solution which retracts into the body when Velocity mode is activated. The front wheels have something called a static aero cover for reducing turbulence around the wheels. The windscreen curves upwards to become part of the roof. As mentioned earlier McLaren scrapped the traditional wing Mirror in favour of a digital solution in the form of retractable cameras, they've done the same with sun visors, this time they used tech called electrochromic glass which darkens at the push of a button. That is some seriously dope tech if you ask me.
One thing that strikes you about the Speedtail is its length, this is a very long car indeed, long like almost half a meter longer than the P1 but not as girthy. From nose to tail the Speedtail is 5.13 meters in length. I predict 3 point turns will be eventful, Austin Powers anyone? if you don't know what I mean just watch the movie.
Look no buttons!
One of the coolest things I love about the original McLaren F1 is that iconic central seating position, the Speedtail borrows from this unusual seating arrangement with 2 passenger seats either side. The F1 was also known for the use of some extremely exotic materials like gold for lining the engine bay and of course carbon fibre, the speedtail takes this further with some seriously exotic material like something called aniline leather, if you hate buttons then you'll be pleased to know McLaren swapped them out for touch screens which surround the dashboard.
How about luggage space?
All that speed and comfort would be for nothing if the Speedtail wasn't practical, a term not often associated with hypercars. Three fully grown adults can travel in comfort but with enough luggage space for all 3. luggage space can be found at the nose as well as in that long tail. There is even storage space in the seats.
Make my Speedtail unique
All 106 Speedtails can each be individually customised by McLarens infamous MSO division making each Speedtail unique to the owner.
A limited 106 McLaren Speedtails will be made the same number as the original McLaren F1, each costing £1.75 million or $2.23 million plus taxes and all 106 Speedtails have been sold. Deliveries to the lucky 106 owners will start in 2020.