FIRST LOOK: McLaren Speedtail

FIRST LOOK: McLaren Speedtail


Three seats, stratospheric top speed and a price tag that’s similarly out of this world, allow Magazine’s Jack Rix to walk you around the mad 250mph McLaren Speedtail. Read more here: McLaren: Car Walkarounds: Chris Harris Drives: Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here. Make sure you’re subscribed to the official YouTube channel:

This is the McLaren Speedtail, the third member
of McLaren's ultimate series following the P1 and Senna. It is a 1,036 brake horsepower
hybrid hyper-GT as elegant as the Senna is ugly. Capable of hitting 250 miles per hour
and costing 2.1 million pounds, and yet the most exciting thing about it
isn't anything to do with the numbers. It's the car whose spirit
the Speedtail resurrects. Truly, I never thought I'd see the day
when the McLaren F1's interior layout was revisited in the modern hyper car, and yet here I am,
sitting centrally in the Speedtail with quite literally the perfect view out,
and a couple of brave mates can come along for the ride, too. Truly, McLaren, this is excellent work, but you don't cash in
your McLaren F1 chips without doing a proper job, which is why
this interior is about so much more than just the number of seats. Although the seats
are actually quite cool. These two either side of me are built
into the carbon-fibre tub, and mine is built
entirely from carbon fibre, and it's covered in something called
directional leather, basically slippery bits on the side,
so you can slide your bum in and then gritty bits in here to hold you
in place when you're at high speeds. In front of me, a bank of screens. In the centre, an instrument cluster, so the speed, the gear, the amount of revs
and various information about the car. On the left, we have climate control
and navigation. On the right, phone and media,
and at the extreme edges, two more screens and these your feeds from the wing mirrors. Now you'll notice
an almost complete lack of buttons here. Apart from up here, where we have
a secondary control panel. Now that's got the active dynamics. That's where you select drive, neutral,
reverse for the gearbox. It's how you start the engine.
It's how you control the electronic doors and the windows, and there's a button here that activates
something called velocity mode. Push that and the car hunkers down. The wing mirrors retract.
It changes the hybrid strategy, so the engine idles a little bit higher
and charges the battery up fully and it won't deploy that boost
until you're really, really shifting to make sure you can access that 250 mile an hour top speed. By the way, that's seven miles an hour
more than the McLaren F1, making this officially the fastest car
McLaren has ever produced. And that's not all for tricks on
the interior. You notice I'm almost entirely surrounded
by glass, some of it electrochromatic glass. Yeah, that means that at the top of
the windscreen and this portal above my head,
at the top of the doors and in the rear quarter windows here, there's glass that can switch from clear
to opaque at the touch of a button. There's also this stuff: machined carbon fibre made from layer
upon layer of ultra-thin carbon and then the shape you want
is simply machined from that block, so you're left with these intricate almost
wood-like patterns on the paddles, on the wheel and on the panel
above my head. Pretty fancy stuff, but I know what
you're thinking, "What's it like for passengers? Cosy. High speed of course is
the real goal here. Every inch of the Speedtail's exterior
is sculpted to reduce drag and help it slip through the air
unimpeded. Whereas the Senna trades on downforce
and ultimate track performance, function at the expensive of all else,
this is the opposite. It's about elegance, extreme acceleration
and that F1-eclipsing top speed. Firstly, there's the dimensions. This thing is actually narrower than a P1
but over half a metre longer. Part of that comes from
a slightly longer wheelbase, but the vast majority is from here,
from this massively elongated tail. All in the name of bleeding the air
off gently from the back edge and reducing turbulence. McLaren also wanted to reduce the number
of shut lines on the Speedtail, so you'll see this entire rear section,
this rear clamshell that wraps right around
the back of the car is a single piece of carbon fibre. Talking about reducing shut lines, you've got hydraulically actuated flaps
here. Now these can pop up to act as air brakes
or generally just balance the car in various driving situations,
but you'll notice there's no hinges. The carbon fibre is just flexible, keeping the bodywork as smooth
and as perfect as possible. Moving up the car, you may not be able
to see it from that angle actually, but there's a snorkel intake here,
split either side of the brake light. Now that feeds air
into the combustion engine there, but it doesn't stick up into the airflow.
It's flush with the bodywork. That's only possible if you can keep
the air perfectly attached all the way along the car's roof line. Speaking of roof line, you've got
this gorgeous teardrop-shaped cockpit and this super smooth glasshouse here, and here's a nice thing, a nod to the F1, this small ticket window
at the bottom here, and then we come to the wing mirrors
or should we call them wing cameras in this car here
in their outer position, but they can retract fully
into the bodywork, making the car as slippery as it possibly
can be, and then we get to the wheels: 20-inch wheels at the front,
21 inch at the back. The carbon ceramic brakes essentially the same ones as you get
on the Senna, but what you don't get on the Senna
is these: the carbon-fibre aerodynamic wheel covers
that reduce the turbulence massively, that keep the air attached all the way
down the significant length of this car. And there's more because you've got
another flap here. An extension of the bonnet line here
that shrouds the windscreen wiper, again controlling the air,
keeping it smooth, flowing tightly, close to the bodywork
right to the very back. Essentially, this thing cleaves the air
like a greased otter, but low drag is nothing
without low weight. To go with the carbon monocoque
is four carbon panels, keeping the weight to one 1,430 kg dry. That's just 35 kilograms more than the P1. Not bad really considering
the gadget count, that extra seat and that tail. Okay, so you want some numbers. Well, the truth is
I don't have them all… yet. McLaren is holding back certain things like full powertrain stats
and full performance figures, but what I can do is make
an educated guess, so we can only assume under there is
a version of the four litre twin-turbo V8 from the Senna, producing let's say
around 750 horsepower, and then we have electric motors,
and we have battery packs, and this car will probably do nought to 62
in around 2.5 seconds. As I say, that's just my take. The things that we do know for certain is
the total power output. That's 1,036 brake horsepower. This car will also do nought to 186 miles
per hour in 12.8 seconds. Just going to let that one sink in
for a bit. Need a bit of help?
Well, that's a full 3.7 seconds faster than the P 1 and almost 10 seconds
quicker than the McLaren F1, and that, in a nutshell,
is the Speedtail's USP, and in case you are wondering: yep, it's eight tenths faster
to 186 than a Bugatti Chiron and it has twice the number of boots. Not only can you bring an extra passenger, but there's space for bags in the front
and in the back. Naturally, bespoke luggage to match
your unique Speedtail's interior is available on request, which brings us to two teeny-weeny
hyper car sticking points: price and availability. Only 106 of these will ever be made,
costing from 2.1 million pounds, and it's all sold out. Don't worry about that too much. What we care about is what this car says
about McLaren, the company. Okay, so it doesn't have
a naturally aspirated shrieking V12 like the Aston Martin Valkyrie or an actual Formula one engine like
the Mercedes AMG Project1, but what it does do is demonstrate
a mastery of aerodynamics. It has one of the very coolest interiors
I've ever sat in, and it has a direct bloodline
to the greatest supercar the world has ever known, and that, my friends, is something
money just can't buy.

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