1055bhp McLaren Speedtail achieves 250mph in testing

McLaren's F1 successor is nearing production, so here's all you need to know about the new Speedtail before we drive it

Alongside news that the first customer cars have entered production for a 2020 delivery, McLaren has confirmed that the Speedtail’s 250mph target has been achieved in testing, on no less than the Space Shuttle landing runway at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA. The Speedtail's wild styling is one thing in pictures, but on the road, this latest Ultimate Series McLaren is promising to break the boundaries of road car design, just like the F1 did over 20 years before it. Here's all you need to know about this quite spectacular hypercar.

The McLaren Speedtail: in detail

Created within McLaren’s Ultimate Series stable the Speedtail joins the Senna and will, before 2025, be accompanied by the replacement for the P1. McLaren calls the Speedtail a Hyper-GT and it will be the fastest McLaren road car the young company has built when the first of the 106 examples are delivered in 2020. Although, you’ll need to scan the classifieds if you fancy one because each one is spoken for.

The Speedtail’s performance is achieved through two means. The more obvious is its hybrid powertrain that features the 4-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine assisted by electric motors driven by a battery pack stored between the passenger cell and the engine – peak output sits at an incredible 1055bhp and 848lb ft of torque, making it the most powerful road car the brand has ever produced. Power is sent to the rear via McLaren’s seven-speed gearbox and the Speedtail will reach 186mph from a standstill in 12.8sec – 3.7sec quicker than a P1.

Brakes from the Senna and some very trick and bespoke Pirelli tyres for the 21-inch forged aluminium wheels are also part of the package, with the Italian firm working with McLaren on a compound and tyre construction that will provide the compliance and comfort expected of a GT capable of running at 250mph. Talking of maximum speed, Speedtail drivers will need to select Velocity mode to reach v-max.

The second, and essential, contributing factor to the Speedtail’s ability to travel quicker than any McLaren that has gone before is a teardrop design, and McLaren’s design director, Rob Melville, has stretched the boundaries of both McLaren’s design language and the techniques employed to achieve it.

> Click here for our review of the McLaren 600LT 

Not only is the Speedtail’s body manufactured from carbonfibre, it’s also the thinnest carbon – and therefore the lightest – McLaren has worked with and every panel has been sculptured for aerodynamic efficiency. The rear section of bodywork is the largest single-piece carbon panel currently utilised on a road car and at the trailing edge there are a pair of patented ailerons. Hydraulically activated, they are formed from a flexible carbon and adjust to balance the airflow to provide precise levels of downforce and act as an air brake under deceleration. And the front carbon wheel covers? They’re static, fixed through the wheel directly to the hub, and reduce turbulence along the flanks of the car. 

The front splitter, rear diffuser and side skirts are made from Thin-Ply Technology Carbon (TPTC), which comprises layers of carbon just 30-microns thick and positioned at 45 degree angles. The pieces are also infused with titanium which can be coloured prior to being placed within the weave.

Only four pieces of glass are used in the Speedtail; the windscreen which rolls up to form the roof, a single piece that integrates into the engine cover and the windows in the doors, which are single pieces that also form part of the roof structure and are the reason why McLaren has been able to do away with the door frames and its traditional roof bars.

At over 5 metres long the Speedtail is close to a long-wheelbase S–class in length and has a wheelbase 50mm longer than that of a 720S. The core of the car is a new MonoCell carbon tub that bares little resemblance to that used to underpin regular McLaren models. There’s a lower sill, no doorframes and two of the three seats are also integrated within it. Yes, as per the F1, the Speedtail is a three-seat car with a central driving position.

Talking of interiors, the centrally positioned driver is faced by five screens: the central display is for the core instruments, the two flanking it display the infotainment, satnav, trip computer and everything else a modern car needs to tell you. Above these two outer screens is another pair of smaller screens for the digital mirror system; you did spot that there were no wing mirrors, didn’t you? 

Using technology developed in sportscar racing there are two aerodynamic pods, each fitted with a wide-angle camera. The pods are positioned within the doors and slide out when the car is moving. When the driver selects Velocity mode they retract to reduce drag along the side of the car. Velocity mode also lowers the Speedtail by 35mm on its active suspension system. 

Above the driver is a pod housing the controls for the gearbox and dynamic drive modes, as well as the controls for the powered doors. And just as Kenwood was charged with developing the lightest hi-fi for the F1, so too has Bower & Wilkins for the Speedtail.

‘Customers have been asking us for a new F1 since McLaren Automotive was born eight years ago,’ says Andy Palmer, vehicle line director for Ultimate Series.  ‘The Speedtail is the car they have been waiting for. When we showed it to them in early October the reaction suggested we had delivered what they had been expecting.’

With testing having been concluded with confirmation of the model’s mind-boggling top speed, and first customer cars already in production, our first drive of McLaren’s ‘new F1’ looks to be just around the corner...

Recommended

Range-topping Honda NSX Type S coming to Pebble Beach
Honda NSX Type S – burnout
Honda NSX

Range-topping Honda NSX Type S coming to Pebble Beach

It’s the end of the line for Honda’s pioneering NSX, but it’s going out with a bang
3 Aug 2021
Aston Martin Valkyrie Roadster to be revealed at Pebble Beach
Valkyrie Roadster
Aston Martin Valkyrie

Aston Martin Valkyrie Roadster to be revealed at Pebble Beach

Open-top Valkyrie on its way, joining the coupe and track-only AMR
2 Aug 2021
Car pictures of the week
Bishops Heritage Range Rover – rear tracking
Land Rover

Car pictures of the week

An epic Bishops Heritage Range Rover Restomod stars in this week's gallery
30 Jul 2021
McLaren 765LT Spider unveiled – £310,000 Super Series flagship joins coupe
McLaren 765LT Spider – front quarter
McLaren

McLaren 765LT Spider unveiled – £310,000 Super Series flagship joins coupe

The next drop-top LT arrives in a familiar form, but with some immense numbers to back it up
27 Jul 2021

Most Popular

Car pictures of the week
Bishops Heritage Range Rover – rear tracking
Land Rover

Car pictures of the week

An epic Bishops Heritage Range Rover Restomod stars in this week's gallery
30 Jul 2021
New Audi RS3 revealed – AMG’s A45 S rival returns fitter and faster
2021 Audi RS3 Sportback – front tracking
Audi RS3

New Audi RS3 revealed – AMG’s A45 S rival returns fitter and faster

After months of tech insights, we now finally get to see the all-new Audi RS3 in its finished form
19 Jul 2021
Mercedes S-class 2021 review – the ‘best car in the world’ just got better
Mercedes S-class – front tracking
Mercedes

Mercedes S-class 2021 review – the ‘best car in the world’ just got better

It may be slipping out of fashion, but the institution that is Mercedes’ S-class is only getting stronger
22 Jul 2021