The new Speedtail is the fastest, most powerful McLaren ever
McLaren is back to its old tricks again, building centre-seated cars that ooze engineering tech and ripple back the face-skin of wealthy enthusiasts with blistering acceleration.
The McLaren Speedtail was unveiled late October looking fabulous inside and out. The hyper-GT features a central seating position as a throwback to the world-beating McLaren F1 of the 1990s, and the parallels don’t stop there.
McLaren hopes to once again push the envelope for speed thanks to off-the-planet engineering.
Starting on the inside, the interior is properly beautiful: the flat-bottomed steering wheel is flanked by three large touchscreens; overhead buttons control the windows and active aerodynamics.
Looking out the front window you notice the Speedtail doesn’t have any sun visors but instead has electrochromic glass at the top of the windshield that can be adjusted for light intake, eliminating the need.
On the outside, an absence of spoilers and wing pieces means the aerodynamics don’t seem too spectacular. Of course, that’s actually whatmakes them spectacular. The tech is well-integrated into the overall design, making it all largely hidden. The front wheel covers, for example, are static, and channel air around the wheel arches to reduce turbulence.
McLaren has reduced the number of shut lines by making the entire rear end a one-piece clam-shell. From above the Speedtail is teardrop-shaped – the fastest shape in nature – with the front splitter making the first contact with air and the elongated tail the last. The splitter, too, has been shaped to bleed off air flow to reduce turbulence. Almost-invisible ducts underneath the headlights channel air into low-temperature radiators on their way through the body and exiting through the side vents.
The Speedtail also has no door mirrors, but instead features retractable cameras that feed a signal to two screens on either side of the driver; engage a special “Velocity” mode and they’ll remain inside the doors to improve aero even more. The rear hydraulic wings are invisible until they start working, because they’re actually built into the rear clamshell using flexible carbon-fibre.
McLaren quotes the dry mass of the Speedtail at 1,430 kg; with some 1,035 horsepower from the hybrid-electric powertrain on tap, you’re on your way to 299 km/h in just 12.8 seconds, all the way to a top speed of 403 km/h. Almost 10 seconds have dropped off the McLaren F1’s zero-to-300 km/h time, and of course the top speed is now 12 km/h higher.
McLaren hasn’t actually specified what sort of engine it’s using to get these numbers, but we can guess it’s a variation of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 found in the P1. Pirelli’s developed custom P-Zero tires for the Speedtail, as well.
McLaren is only building 106 of these wild machines, the same number as it did McLaren F1s in the ’90s. One-third of those cars are going to the U.S. market where, thanks to the camera-mirrors and the lack of the correct airbags for the three seats, it won’t be street-legal.
Speedtails that do make it over to North America will have to be imported under the “Show and Display” rule, and McLaren is leaving owners to figure out how or if they want to ferry them across the Atlantic.
A staggering £1.75 million (or about $2.9 million, here) would have gotten you a centre-seat in one, if they weren’t already all sold out. Deliveries will begin early 2020.