McLaren Speedtail: The art of speed

McLaren's new Speedtail 'hyper GT' is so fast it can re-arrange your internal organs and those of two friends, says William Scholes

THIS outrageous slice of carbon fibre and bleeding edge technology from McLaren is the latest addition to the fantasy world wishlist of money-no-object hypercars, writes William Scholes.

McLaren calls it the Speedtail - what a fabulous name - and despite a starting price of £1.75 million before taxes and a trip through an options list that would make an oligarch blanch, all 106 build slots have already been sold.

That figure of 106 is a deliberate nod to the most revered road car to yet wear a McLaren badge, the legendary F1, of which that number of examples were sold.

Another F1 echo is the Speedtail's three-seater cabin, which positions the driver centrally, like the tip of an arrow, ahead of a passenger on either side.

As well as fulfilling a host of aerodynamic and engine-related functions, the car's oh-so-long tail accommodates a luggage compartment.

This, in tandem with the Speedtail's ability to carry three people, has led McLaren to describe it as a 'hyper GT', or 'hyper grand tourer'.

As such, it really has no rival, though the Bugatti Chiron is probably closest in spirit. But if you can afford one, you can also afford the other, so rivalries cease to have meaning in this rarified atmosphere.

The Speedtail's superlatives blur into one. This will be the fastest McLaren road car yet, with a 250mph top speed targeted.

Its petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain will have more than 1,000bhp on tap, all in a car that has the footprint of a long wheelbase Range Rover and weighs less than a Volkswagen Golf; McLaren promises 0-186mph in 12.8 seconds. Think about that for, well, 12.8 seconds...

To help it slice through the air so rapidly, McLaren has treated the Speedtail to front-wheel fairings - made from featherweight but immensely strong carbon fibre, of course - a bunch of active spoilers and even got rid of regular door or wing mirrors by fitting retractable digital rear-view cameras.

A glazed canopy covers the cabin, and passengers can turn the roof opaque instantly because of something called 'electrochromic' technology.

The same tech is found in the upper section of the wildly curved windscreen, meaning there is no need for anything as last century as folding sun visors to clutter the interior.

A swathe of high-definition displays feed information to the driver, and some controls sit in a panel above the driver's head, to enhance the feeling that they piloting something that seems to owe almost as much to fighter jets as it does to road cars.

Not satisfied with regular Formula One spec carbon fibre, McLaren has developed a version of the material with titanium woven through it because... well, because it could.

Customers can have the titanium anodised in a colour of their choosing, to further personalise their Speedtail's carbon fibre.

All of this comes at vast expense - the car pictured in these photographs is reckoned to have almost £500k of options alone.

The first cars will reach their fortunate owners - who McLaren has allowed to buy 'only' one example each - in 2020.

Who knows what other 'hyper GTs' will have surfaced by then?

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