Speed­tail is a fu­sion of art and sci­ence

NEW MOD­ELS/ Like the iconic F1, McLaren’s new 403km/h ul­ti­mate road­car is a three-seater with a cen­tral driv­ing po­si­tion, writes De­nis Droppa

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

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 teardrop­shaped cock­pit is the Speed­tail’s most con­tro­ver­sial fea­ture: a dra­mat­i­cally elon­gated car­bon­fi­bre 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 car­bon­fi­bre 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 0300km/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 cen­traldriv­ing 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.


The aeroop­ti­mised body in­cludes front-wheel static aero cov­ers. Left: The in­te­rior is more like a fighter plane than a car, and you can take two pas­sen­gers along for the (wild) ride.

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