Wednesday 14th November 2018
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Welcome to the bonkers world of the McLaren Speedtail. Image by McLaren.

Welcome to the bonkers world of the McLaren Speedtail
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2018-10-18: McLaren Speedtail's badging is 'gold standard'

What's the news?

It has been a long time coming. Teased over the past two years as the BP23, what we're looking at here is a production-ready road-going McLaren that's faster than the 243mph F1 of the 1990s. It's called the Speedtail.

I thought we knew all this stuff?

Well, we did. But now we've seen the Speedtail in the flesh, and... wow.

You've SEEN it?!

Yes, at a sneaky preview, held just days after 68 per cent of the lucky so-and-sos who will each own a Speedtail got to see their incoming pride and joy. And they're in for one heck of a ride, we can tell you.

So, have you got the full rundown on the Speedtail?

Not quite. It doesn't go into production until late 2019, with deliveries of the 106 examples - priced at a mere 1.75 million plus local taxes apiece - expected in 2020. So, there's still quite a lot to be confirmed. But, from what we have been given, we know we're looking at an extremely special car indeed.

How so?

The petrol-electric hybrid Speedtail, making it similar in ethos to one of its Ultimate Series predecessors, the mighty P1, will deliver a monumental 1,050hp. This is propelling a mere 1,430kg (dry weight) of carbon-fibre-constructed car, which means the Speedtail, as befits half of its name, is fast. Like, bonkers fast. Terrifyingly fast. Want a stat? OK, permit us to give you two: one, it'll do 250mph flat out, which is why it eclipses the legend that is the F1 and gives it the enviable crown of the 'Fastest McLaren Ever'; but two, and more astonishingly, it will run 0-186mph in 12.8 seconds. Twelve. Point. Eight. Seconds. Never mind the fact that there are city cars that won't do 0-62mph in the same time, the Speedtail's one and only acceleration stat is fully 3.7 seconds faster than the P1 can tick off the same sprint. That's... that's... that's outrageous!

It most certainly is. What else do we know about its powertrain?

Not a huge deal, other than it's rear-wheel drive and, in terms of the combustion lump, it will almost certainly be the M840T twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 that can be found in the likes of the track-focused Senna. Oh, and talking of which, we need to speak about downforce and the Speedtail's reason for being.

Could you explain more clearly, please?

So, the Senna is a track-focused machine, hence the colossal rear wing that blesses it with 800kg of downforce. Take one look at the sinuous, swooping bodywork of the Speedtail (which, by the way, is to die for in the aesthetics department, eh?) and you'll notice there's very little spoiling its glorious, pure lines. That's because its active aero is hidden, with McLaren Design Director Rob Melville stating: "Every detail and volume on the car has earned its place: everything is there for a reason, no excess." So, while the Speedtail doesn't have a fixed rear wing, what it does have is possibly an even more remarkable piece of technology - patent-pending ailerons. Two little flaps of the carbon fibre, that makes up the biggest single piece of carbon McLaren has ever formed into a body panel, can curve up into the airflow to add stability over the rear axle. A clear aeronautical inspiration (McLaren even cited NASA), it's one of the coolest things we've ever seen on a car and it should work brilliantly in practice. Of course, the ailerons don't generate the same sort of downforce as the Senna, but then the Speedtail is not a track car, it's a road-going 'hyper-GT'.

Road-going?! At 250mph?!

Yes. Indeed, McLaren could probably have got more speed out of the Speedtail, only the tyres' sidewalls have to not only withstand the pressures of rolling along at a third of the speed of sound (or Mach 0.3, if you're an aviation geek), they also must be able to convey the owner and two passengers to, say, the opera in total comfort. Pirelli, by the way, is the rubber company tasked with developing a specific set of P Zeros for the mighty Macca.

Hold on, three seats? Is it laid out like a McLaren F1?

It sure is. The driver sits front and centre, with two seats - moulded into the Monocage II tub to maximise room - mounted aft and outboard of the main chair. Information is presented to the jammy get who is in the driver's seat via three screens, while some important switchgear is up on the roof; including the super-funky VELOCITY button, rendered in blue, which drops the car by 35mm and optimises the drivetrain and active aero for 'MAXIMUM PACE, YOU MUTHA'. All the leather is Aniline and features high-grip panels to stop the occupants sliding about in corners, while stowage is taken care of by two cubbies under the passenger seats, two gloveboxes in the dash and two boots (one front, one rear), which between them can take 160 litres of bespoke McLaren luggage.

And can we just return to the exterior, for a moment?

We most certainly can. That beautiful, teardrop shape is stretched over a heavily modified version of the tub of a 720S, which has seen its bulkheads moved about to accommodate the three-seat cabin and which has a 50mm longer wheelbase, despite the fact it's nearly 600mm longer than a 720S at 5,137mm all-in. The glasshouse is almost all glass, giving maximum visibility out and also a light, airy feel to the cabin; chromatic strips and LEDs do the job of keeping glare out if needed, so there are no sun visors within. The dihedral, 'butterfly' doors open electrically, a first for any McLaren. And there are no door mirrors - a system of rear-view cameras, as seen on concept cars at motor shows, takes their place. Finally, you might also have noted the front wheels look different to the rear. That's because they sport fixed covers that aid the aero and allow the Speedtail to hit 250mph; owners can remove them, as they are fitted on a spline through the wheel hub, but that would make the McLaren 'aerodynamically suboptimal'. And why would you want to do that?

You like it, then?

Just a bit. Just a teeny, tiny, little bit.



Matt Robinson - 26 Oct 2018


2019 McLaren Speedtail. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren Speedtail. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren Speedtail. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren Speedtail. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren Speedtail. Image by McLaren.

2019 McLaren Speedtail. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren Speedtail. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren Speedtail. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren Speedtail. Image by McLaren.2019 McLaren Speedtail. Image by McLaren.









www.mclaren.com    - McLaren road tests
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