McLaren Speedtail: An Angel In The Outfield

  • The McLaren Speedtail was recently revealed to future owners at a private event in London.
  • The Speedtail is the first of 18 new cars under the company’s Track25 business plan.
  • It’s the fastest McLaren in history, capable of 250 mph.  

The info on the new McLaren Speedtail hypercar was just released. And if this thing performs anywhere close to what it looks like, it should be angelically fast. Yes, Speedtail is not the most adroit of names, and, yes, it’s hideously priced.

But who cares?!

The McLaren Speedtail is the direct successor to the McLaren P1 and the spiritual successor to the stunning F1.

Chart Topper

Like the F1, the Speedtail seats three people in a triangular arrangement, with the driver up front and in the center. And, like the P1, it’s a hybrid with all of the normal Prius stuff oriented towards speed and performance, rather than environmental smugness. However, unlike the P1, the Speedtail is aesthetically staggering rather than hideous.

The Speedtail lines up against rides like the Porsche 918, the La Ferrari, and, to a lesser extent, boutique cars like Paganis and Koenigseggs. The specs nudge it just to the top of that list, which will hopefully spur Porsche and Ferrari to even further heights when they respond. Before we dive into those specs, let’s get the horrible, bad news out of the way first: You’re too poor and too late.

McLaren Speedtail. Photo: McLaren Automotive.

If this thing performs anywhere close to what it looks like, it should be angelically fast. Click To Tweet

Rare Beast

The McLaren Speedtail was recently shown to future owners and McLaren customers at a private event in London. You weren’t there? Of course you weren’t. On top of it being secretly shown to the hoi polloi, McLaren will only produce 106 Speedtails, all of which are already reserved. And the final slap in the face: The price starts at £1.75 million plus taxes (or $2,250,000).

So, if you’re that guy from the Carolinas that just won 1.5 billion in the Mega Millions drawing, even you are too late, my good sir.

Now, let’s dust ourselves off, and dig into the techno-buffet that is the McLaren Speedtail. McLaren’s design brief here is that the Speedtail is the first “HyperGT” and the ultimate road car. McLaren says it “harmonizes sleek and seamless beauty with pioneering technologies and extreme performance.”

I know that “in the eye of the beholder” stuff, but, c’mon! Even Stevie Wonder could see how pretty this thing is!

Photo: McLaren Automotive.

Tricks & Treats

The teardrop shaped cockpit and dramatically elongated, aerodynamically-optimized Speedtail measures in at a tick under 17 feet: 16.9 feet to be exact (or 5,137 mm for you Euros). The body is carbon fiber, of course, and is the key to the Speedtail being the most aero-efficient McLaren road car yet. Even the glass is high-tech, with an advanced electrochromic windshield (windscreen, to you Brits) that darkens up top at the touch of a button.

Trick, slick, and no more sun visors!

The interior design is as sleek and modern as a sci-fi film. Gauges are replaced by three flat panel displays, or a glass cockpit, as we used to say in the aerospace industry. McLaren even put switchgear above and ahead of the driver for that UFO feel. Of course the Speedtail purchaser can trick out the interior, but customization is more than just an interior thing.

The Speedtail introduces a new standard of high-tech, bespoke customization. Among the astonishing options: interwoven carbon titanium deposition materials and digitally-embossed, full-aniline and lightweight leathers.

McLaren Speedtail interior layout. Photo: McLaren Automotive.

There was once a McLaren made entirely out of Legos.

Structural & Aerodynamic Art

Naturally, the Speedtail is all cloth and glue, none of this olde tyme metal frame stuff here, oh no. There is a carbon fiber Monocage body structure, unique to the Speedtail, that encloses the McLaren F1-inspired central driving position. The two passenger seats have enough structural rigidity and impact absorption to rival the cockpit of an A-10. Minus the GAU Gatling gun I hope.

The aerodynamics are on par with a Boeing product. This is normal for a car company with a full-scale, rolling-road wind tunnel running 24/7. And McLaren’s computational fluid dynamics lab would make the submariners at Groton green with envy. There are static, carbon fiber front-wheel aero-covers that feed controlled airflow rearward.

Side mirrors? Not on the Speedtail, boy-o! How about retractable, digital rear-view cameras instead? And the piece de resistance: patented active rear “ailerons” contributing to aerodynamic balance, downforce, and cornering.

Photo: McLaren Automotive.

And the piece de resistance: patented active rear ailerons contributing to aerodynamic balance, downforce, and cornering. Click To Tweet

Balancing Act

Calling them ailerons is a bit of an aerodynamic misnomer, they’re basically flaps/spoilers. They appear to be differentially articulated, like the movable aero bits found on the Pagani Huayra and the original Porsche 917 Le Mans racer. The trick bit of having two, independently moving aero surfaces rather than just a single big one is that you can differentially apply more downforce on one side of the car and less on the other.

Imagine it this way: you’re going through a big, sweeping left hand turn at a pretty high velocity, say around 150 mph or so. If you can put more downforce on the inside rear wheel rather than the outside, the aerodynamics will both stick the car to the tarmac and help it turn-in more. Slick, no?

There’s even a unique “Velocity Mode” that optimizes the powertrain and active aero by lowering the car 1.4 inches.

Photo: McLaren Automotive.

Even kids can enjoy the thrills of a McLaren.

Faster & Faster

Max speed? Sit down because the Speedtail is the fastest McLaren ever at 250 mph! The petrol-electric hybrid powertrain brings a combined 1,035 bhp to the party, about 37 more than the La Ferrari. Which must bother Maranello something fierce. The Speedtail can go from a dead stop to 186 mph in 12.8 seconds. That would be an impressive quarter mile time, let alone getting up to the triple-klick that quick.

Zero to 60 is who cares! At this point, cars like the Speedtail can hit freeway speed about as quick as Big Daddy Don Gartlits can.

Stunning. Amazing. Exquisite. Quick. I’ll take my in Papaya Orange, mate.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

McLaren Speedtail Gallery

Photos & Source: McLaren Automotive.

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