The McLaren Speedtail hypercar is finally here, and it’s a streamlined stunner. The whole car is slicker than a bar of soap, and everything about it is there to make it the fastest McLaren road car in history — a combination of sophisticated design and astonishing speed.
Grilles and air intakes are kept small and out of the way. It has a long tapering tail. The front wheels have large, smooth carbon-fiber aero-covers that remain fixed as the wheels rotate, to smooth out turbulence from the wheels. Ducts and air passages are all designed to further reduce turbulence, and of course that’s the point of the long tail. Air flow for the engine comes from a snorkel intake that is so minimal you can’t even see it in profile.
Some of the particularly curious parts are the patented rear active spoilers. The flaps appear to not have any kind of joint or gap where they lift.
The cockpit is suitably futuristic and unique, too. As the company had previously mentioned, the seat is in the center, as with the old McLaren F1 road car. Immediately in front of the driver is the steering wheel and a main screen for instruments, and to either side are additional screens for other information and interfaces. At the base of either pillar are two smaller screens which are connected to cameras that substitute side mirrors for less drag — and for even less drag, the cameras can be retracted. In what seems like a nod to airplanes, key controls, knobs and switches are above the driver on the ceiling — even the gear select buttons are up there.
McLaren revealed its ultimate Ultimate Series car on Friday, offering details only hinted at before. The car almost looks more like a land-speed-record car than a road car. The automaker says the Speedtail is its most aerodynamic creation ever, and that this was its “singleminded vision” — not hard to believe, looking at it: “A jaw-dropping elongated body makes it as much a work of art as a masterpiece of technology.”
Seen from above, the overall car and its passenger compartment are shaped like a teardrop, which McLaren calls the fastest shape in nature.
And indeed this is McLaren’s fastest car. Its hybrid powertrain puts out over 1,000 horsepower. (McLaren rates it as 1,035 bhp, so horsepower is just under 1,050.) We applaud the press-release writer’s use of the word relentless here: “The hybrid powertrain enables a relentless increase in vehicle speed. …” Top speed is 250 mph — exceeding the F1’s 243 mph. And the one measure of acceleration McLaren has provided has the Speedtail rocketing from 0 to 186 mph (300 kph) in 12.8 seconds. (Compared to the McLaren P1’s 16.5 seconds.) Carbon-ceramic brakes come into play after that.
McLaren singles out the car’s Velocity drive mode, which optimizes the powertrain and tailors the aero bits for maximum speed. Those side-view cameras retract, and the aluminum active suspension lowers the car by 1.4 inches. Once that’s done, the highest point of the car is just 3.7 feet — 44 inches — above the roadway.
A carbon-fiber monocoque embraces the passenger compartment, and the 16.9-foot-long body is entirely made of the stuff, too.
Among the otherworldly details of the car: The windshield is made of electrochromic glass that can be darkened at the touch of a button, so there are no sun visors. The car has “interwoven carbon titanium deposition materials and digitally embossed, full-aniline and lightweight leathers.” Even the Pirelli P-Zero tires are bespoke for the Speedtail to handle its extreme speed.
Being a McLaren, there’s space for luggage fore and aft, though strange to think of a 250-mph car hauling suitcases. And of course who could travel in a car of this nature without a bespoke carbon-fiber-leather-metal luggage set designed to match each owner’s customized interior.
The car you see here — and that early depositors saw recently in a London preview — is done up in Speedtail Silver, “a Nano-metallic, ‘molten-effect’ paint” that, yes, is only to be had on this car.
Only 106 Speedtails will be produced, and they’re all spoken for, at a price of 1.75 million pounds, or $2.24 million at current exchange rates.
Update: A McLaren representative said that the car is not road legal in the U.S. mainly due to the three-seat configuration not meeting safety requirements. That said, a third of the run was sold to American customers, meaning those that bring the car here will need to apply for a show and display exemption.