It’s safe to say that when it comes to supercars and hypercars, McLaren is absolutely killing the game right now.
Not long after the reveal of their ultra track-focused Senna, the brand has followed that up with another vehicle that’s just as extreme but different in its purpose.
A car like no other. A pure fusion of science and art in automotive form.
The Speedtail is McLaren’s first ever Hyper-GT. The most aerodynamically efficient car ever. And the fastest McLaren to date. With a pioneering 1050PS hybrid powertrain at its core.
It brings together unprecedented levels of innovation and elegance to create a new benchmark in automotive design. And offers owners the extraordinary opportunity for bespoke personalization.
Its iconic three seat configuration puts the driver center-stage – and a jaw-dropping elongated body makes it as much a work of art as a masterpiece of technology.
This is McLaren’s brand new entrant to the Ultimate Series. This is the Speedtail.
THE SPEEDTAIL IS THE FASTEST AND QUICKEST MCLAREN YET
McLaren Speedtail performance:
0-62 mph in 2.5 seconds (not confirmed)
0-186 mph in 12.8 seconds (confirmed)
Top speed of 250 mph (confirmed)
Well, numbers like these do tell us a lot about the McLaren Speedtail.
Not only is it dramatically quicker to 186 mph compared to the P1, which needs 16.5 seconds to reach that speed, but it is also 0.3 seconds quicker than the Chiron.
On the other hand, it is slower to 186 mph by almost a second compared with the Koenigsegg Agera RS which does the job in 11.9 seconds.
Andy Palmer, McLaren’s Ultimate Series Vehicle Line Chief commented on the Speedtail performance:
“This is the first car that we’ve felt we could comfortably go beyond [the F1’s top speed] with. The 250mph speed is due to a balance of comfort and tire [capabilities],” he said. “It’s still got to be a usable GT car, and there’s a trade-off.“
The legendary F1 could achieve 243 mph, which is amazing by any standard. Despite being faster by just 7 mph than a 25-year-old supercar, the McLaren Speedtail does many other things better than any other supercar or hypercar. It is luxurious, comfortable, seats three, and can beat almost anything on the road anywhere in the world.
In comparison to the track-going, slightly odd looking Senna, the Speedtail is a sleek car that almost looks like a throwback to the supercars of the ‘90s. But knowing its features it’s nothing like the 90’s. Check out yourself......
1 THE POWER OF SYMMETRY
The influence of symmetrical design can be seen throughout the Speedtail. In the striking rear light, for example, that pinpoints the central axis of the car. But open the Speedtail’s dihedral doors, and the most iconic reference is revealed – the central driving seat, which positions the driver directly upon this line. The central driver’s seat is synonymous with the legendary F1. But in the Speedtail, it becomes even more extraordinary. It’s not simply about better visibility. Better awareness. Or even better positional accuracy. It’s more than this. It affords a truly natural balance to the car. And places drivers center-stage... in an unparalleled automotive experience.
2 A CUT ABOVE
Inside the Speedtail there is room for three people. Yet, for the driver, the same interior feels like a single-seater cockpit. One in which they are truly at the heart of the action. This is not simply achieved through the central driving seat. But also through repositioning core car controls from the dashboard to an overhead console. These are dedicated driver’s controls. Positioned above them. Accessible only by them. Inspired by the world of aviation – and milled from aluminium – the overhead console provides instant, distraction-free access to Active Dynamics settings. The engine start button. The switches and dials to engage Velocity mode. To release the doors. And to control the side windows. The result is a decluttered interior environment. That delivers pure driving focus.
3 CLEANER AIR
One of the biggest peculiarities of the new McLaren Speedtail are definitely the covers on the front wheels. While they can be removed, McLaren strongly suggests that you don’t.
These, in fact, are stationary units connected with the car through the wheels and made of carbon fiber.
Static wheel covers are installed to dramatically reduce air turbulence, to smooth airflow around the sides of the car, keep the air close to the car, and guide the air to the “blades” on the side to make it literally cut through the air. This is just one out of a number of amazing aerodynamic features employed in the intricate design of the Speedtail.
4 FLEXED FOR AIRFLOW
In stunning new automotive technology, the Speedtail does away with a traditional rear wing. Instead, its trailing edge integrates controllable surface elements known as ‘ailerons’ – usually found on aircraft. These extend at high speed to provide balance and provide airbrake function. Unlike traditionally hinged ailerons, however, the Speedtail’s are formed from the bodywork of the tail. There is no separate, moving element – the carbon fiber bodywork itself actually bends. This removes the need for joins or shutlines. And minimizes turbulent air… with no loss of speed. Hydraulically actuated, the ailerons move the center of pressure towards the rear, increasing downforce. The Speedtail’s active ailerons only became possible because of a relentless commitment to pushing boundaries – in both aerodynamic design and materials innovation.
5 PICTURE THIS
Innovations abound. Another automotive first… the Speedtail has no wing mirrors.
As the Speedtail is all about low drag, using cameras instead of mirrors will greatly help with lowering the drag coefficient.
Instead, two discreet high-definition cameras glide out from the doors when ignition is activated. Being much smaller than traditional mirrors, they vastly reduce air turbulence. But they also provide a far wider field of vision for the driver via two screens within the cockpit. And are ergonomically designed to help the driver focus on the road ahead. When the cameras retract, the pure-form outline of the Speedtail is left fully undisrupted to eliminate any drag from the buffered air.
6 SPECIAL WHEELS FOR THE SPECIAL CAR
As with any other part of this magnificent technological exercise, the tires for the McLaren Speedtail had to be special.
McLaren partnered with Pirelli in an effort to create tires that will be able to withstand extreme speeds - 250 mph - provide exceptional comfort, last long enough, and be usable at slow speeds.
That is a hard job and McLaren officials actually said that they could have made something to go even faster than 250 mph, but the tires would have to be much different.
The company settled for 250 mph and bespoke Pirelli P-Zero rubber. Interestingly enough, this car shares a whole lot of features with magnificent machines like the Bonneville Speedsters, for example. The front tires measure 20 inches in diameter but are actually quite narrow. Obviously, the rear tires transfer all the power to the ground and are much wider.
7 IT HAS A 1,036 HORSEPOWER GASOLINE-ELECTRIC HYBRID POWERTRAIN
McLaren is rather coy on specifications for its propulsion system.
We do know that power for the Speedtail comes from a hybrid system with a combined estimated power output of 1,036 horsepower.
Bear in mind, the Speedtail, while certainly efficient, doesn’t try to be so. That is why I doubt it has any electric-only drive capacity. I don’t see a charging point on the outside, so I doubt it is a plug-in hybrid either. It is, in fact, a machine that focuses on top speed and will transfer all the imaginable power to the rear wheels.
Unfortunately, details about the propulsion are nonexistent, but considering this is yet another machine in the Ultimate Series of McLaren, I’d say it has a 4.0-liter, V-8 engine with 780+ horsepower and a 300ish horsepower electric motor.
Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer at McLaren, said that “a ground-breaking hybrid powertrain sits within a lightweight carbon fiber body reminiscent of sleek ‘streamliners’ that once set world speed records.”
Not a lot of words about the system is there!? Except for the word “ground-breaking”! Can’t wait to learn what that really means!
8 IT'S A MCLAREN’S SPECIAL OPERATIONS CAR.
This means that the car truly is a special proposition and that every single one will be tailored specifically according to any whims of the buyer.
Heck, McLaren plans to fly each customer to its company so that the car can be produced precisely to the customer’s liking.
“Customers have been asking us for a new F1 since McLaren Automotive was born eight years ago,” says Andy Palmer, Vehicle Line Director for the Ultimate Series. “The Speedtail is the car they have been waiting for. When we showed it to them in early October, the reaction suggested we had delivered what they had been expecting.”
9 THREE SEAT COCKPIT
It’s back. For years enthusiasts (those with the money) have been asking the Woking-based manufacturer to produce something as astonishing as the F1, with an emphasis on the three-seat layout. Well, this is it - the Speedtail.
The front carbon-fiber seat is centrally positioned with the side seats actually incorporated into the carbon fiber tub.
So, they cannot move at all but are covered in the finest leather. Plus, those who have actually sat in them say that it is quite cozy.
Nevertheless, the two seats on the sides prove that McLaren is willing to go the extra mile with the creation of its cars. When you think about it, the Speedtail may be the most amazing car in the world - with an incredible predecessor, with technology never seen on a road car, with the power of a hypercar, and speed comparable to that of the fastest cars of today.
Now, the three seat cockpit does mean you will be able to bring your friends. You will, undoubtedly, also need some luggage compartments. In that regard, McLaren offers front and back luggage compartments and the owner can even purchase bespoke luggage bags that fit perfectly into the compartments. Aside from the boot up front and at the back, small compartments can be found under both side seats. One interesting fact about the practicality inside - you can have cup holders in there as well.
10 DRAMA IN THE DETAIL
The aerodynamic performance of the Speedtail is down to a design philosophy that encompasses the entire car. While some elements are visually striking – such as the elongated tail and static wheel covers – others are less obvious. But their role is just as vital. The vertical duct beneath each of the car’s LED headlights is one such innovation. Tucked discreetly away, they are particularly slender. And yet they have been meticulously tapered to feed enough air into the low-temperature radiators. All while still minimizing drag. Some little wins. Some big. All mount up to the most aero-efficient McLaren to date.
11 THE CURVED GLASS WINDOW IS THE LARGEST EVER ON A MCLAREN
Every single piece of the McLaren Speedtail seems to be a story for itself. The windshield is actually the largest curved glass section ever used on a McLaren. However, apart from being big, McLaren also made it quite smart. The windshield extends far above the head and makes up a lot of the tear-shaped canopy that McLaren formulated for a car like this. Now, instead of using classic sun visors and breaking the seamless ambiance of the cabin or actually distracting the driver from,... well, driving, McLaren included electrochromic glass that can become opaque at a touch of a button.
The glass on the roof and on the upper side of the doors also uses electrochromic glass.
You are basically able to control the amount of light entering the cabin by making the glass surfaces opaque.
12 DRY WEIGHT OF 1,430 KILOGRAMS (3,153 POUNDS)
Making a powerful car is one thing, but making it light is a whole another set of challenges. Built entirely from carbon-fiber, the Speedtail takes a lightweight design to a whole new level. McLaren even built a unique Monocage (a carbon tub basically). It is of a different design compared to the ones in the 720S, the Senna, or the P1. Add to this an aluminum suspension and carbon brakes, and you have yourself a car built of so many cool materials, you’d be a champion in any pub talk.
But, you don’t go to pubs. You go to Golf courses. And you’d be a champion there too. You know why?
Because this thing is up to 1,300 lbs lighter than a freaking Bugatti Chiron.
And that is the car many would compare your Speedtail with.
The Speedtail design makes for the least possible drag coefficient. This does mean that it does not have the downforce of the mad Senna or even of some older McLaren cars. However, this also means that the Speedtail is able to touch a top speed no other McLaren has managed to hit before. Obviously, the look of the car reveals enigmatic enthusiasm in creating a beautiful, yet extremely slippery car. The rear end with that awesome tail is only a part of the aerodynamic proves the Speedtail obviously externalizes.
The Speedtail is exactly 21.6 inches longer than the P1, yet it is narrower. With a length of 202.2 inches, it’s big. For a reason.
The teardrop design of the canopy leads the air towards the engine mounted behind the rear seats.
Yet, thanks to the slippery body without any interruptions, the air can reach the engine compartment even without massive intakes.
On the other hand, isn’t it amazing that McLaren was so dedicated to removing all possible shut lines and gaps from the body? That is why this McLaren has a one-piece rear clamshell. Heck, even the rear active spoiler is actually made of flexible carbon fiber. It can raise or lower to change the shape of the rear end without actually being a separate piece. It’s amazing, to say the least.
The aerodynamics is the only reason McLaren made those massive carbon fiber bodywork panels without any gaps. While this does not make a lot of sense for a car that can do 124 mph, it definitely makes sense for a car that can double that.
14 IT IS NOT STREET LEGAL IN THE U.S.
You read that right. The most amazing McLaren that ever existed is illegal in the U.S. Well, not entirely so.
Actually, 33 percent of all buyers of the new McLaren Speedtail come from the U.S.
Obviously, some of them do intend to drive the car on the road at one point in time. And they can do so, but not via regular means of registration. Instead, they will be able to drive the car under the "Show or Display" rules that have been imposed since 1999. These rules enable certain specialty cars, prototypes, concept cars, and cars that do not conform to the NTHSA rules to be driven up to 2,500 miles per year on the road. Plenty enough for a car with the status of the Speedtail. Track driven miles aren’t included here. In fact, you could drive your Speedtail on the track as you like and for as long as you like.
Nevertheless, I am listing here all the reasons that make it illegal to drive the McLaren Speedtail on public roads in the U.S.
First of all, the McLaren Speedtail does not have side airbags that would conform to the NTHSA rules.
The rather unusual three-seat layout hindered McLaren’s efforts to create new side airbags for the car. As this is a specialty model, the development of an all-new side airbag system simply was not logical, nor financially feasible.
Side cameras on the new McLaren Speedtail actually project images on the interior mounted displays, obviously acting as rearview mirrors. This technology is illegal in the U.S as of yet, which makes it the second technological issue that does not conform to the rules in the U.S.
Get ready to empty your pockets…
The Mclaren Speedtail Is Expensive………Expensive?
You bet it is! With planned production of only 106 units, the Speedtail is one of the most exclusive vehicles ever produced.
Considering it is also the fastest, the quickest (and probably the longest) road car the company has ever envisioned, I am not even surprised by the price of $2,240,000.
Yet, despite such a massive price, each unit has already been spoken for. In plain English - the Speedtail is sold out. As I was saying above, a third of the production will end up in the garages of U.S. customers. That despite the fact that the Speedtail is practically illegal on the US roads.
Image Courtesy: Instagram @mclarenauto