McLaren has unveiled the successor to its legendary F1 road car of the 1990s which was designed by SA-born Gordon Murray.
Dubbed the Speedtail, the British firm’s new "Hyper-GT" is McLaren’s ultimate roadcar, positioned above the 720S and even the extreme, track-focused Senna. It was recently revealed to future owners and McLaren customers at a private event held in London.
The latest McLaren (and there has been a veritable flurry of them lately) has a central driving seat just like the F1, with two passenger seats located diagonally to the sides, while access to the three-seater cockpit is gained by power-operated dihedral doors.
With a top speed of 403km/h the Speedtail becomes the fastest McLaren road car to date (faster even than the 391km/h F1), but it’s rolled up with what McLaren describes as unprecedented blend of craftsmanship, materials innovation and bespoke personalisation.
As with the original McLaren F1, only 106 units of the Speedtail will be produced, all of which are already reserved by buyers at a price of £1.75m (R32.5m) plus taxes.
Enveloping the teardrop-shaped cockpit is the Speedtail’s most controversial feature: a dramatically elongated carbon-fibre body which at 5,137mm is longer than a BMW 7 Series.
McLaren has styled its flagship car after the sleek "streamliners" that once set world speed records, and it has innovative drag-reducing features such as active rear ailerons, and carbon-fibre front-wheel static aero covers to reduce air turbulence.
The carbon-fibre structure keeps the weight down to 1,430kg (substantially lighter than a two-tonne 7 Series) and the Speedtail rides on aluminium active suspension that can lower the car by 35mm, and is stopped by carbon ceramic brakes.
A petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain (of which McLaren hasn’t yet revealed technical details) provides total outputs of 772kW, giving this super-sized sports car a claimed 0-300km/h sprint in just 12.8 seconds (quicker than the time it took to read that sentence).
The interior comes straight out of the sci-fi realms. The driver peers at an all-digital interface comprising three large screens, and the highly personalisable cabin décor includes the interwoven carbon titanium materials displayed in the show vehicle. Electrochromic glass darkens the top of the windscreen at the touch of a button, removing the need for sun visors. Retractable digital rear-view cameras are used in place of mirrors, probably as much for the coolness factor as for aerodynamic efficiency.
The controls to start the engine, change driver modes and to open the windows and doors, are in panels above the driver’s head.
"McLaren has never built a vehicle like the Speedtail before," says Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren Automotive.
"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."
There’s even luggage space within both the nose and tail of the vehicle and a bespoke luggage set is available to every owner, the carbon fibre, leather and metalwork on the cases being matched to the interior specification of their Speedtail.
First deliveries of this rarest of McLarens are expected to begin in 2020.