by Karl Furlong
The story of how the McLaren Solus GT came to be is almost as astonishing as the sound its 5.2-liter V10 engine makes when extended beyond 10,000 rpm. Initially a gaming concept car, McLaren decided the Solus GT was special enough to be developed into a single-seat, track-only racer for the real world. The naturally aspirated V10 unleashes 829 horsepower, and since the car weighs only around 2,200 pounds, it can reach 62 mph in just 2.5 seconds. Hypercar prerequisites like outrageous styling, a nausea-inducing price tag, and a limited production run (only 25 will be made) position the Solus GT alongside other track specials like the Pagani Huayra R and Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro. It's McLaren at its maddest.
Revealed in the second half of 2022, the new McLaren Solus GT coupe is an extreme track-only hypercar evolved from the world of gaming; as a concept, it featured in Gran Turismo Sport. It combines low weight with exceptional power, resulting in a top speed of over 200 mph. The GT features a single seat and closed cockpit, with its interior drawing inspiration from F1 machines. Only 25 examples of this remarkable car will be produced, and all have already been sold.
Derived from a concept car created for virtual racing, the McLaren Solus GT's transformation into a real-world track car has been astonishing. It arrives with an 829-hp V10, a single center seat, and a carbon fiber monocoque. For the first time in a production car from McLaren, the engine is part of the chassis. Without the restrictions of making it road-legal, McLaren has been able to create the ultimate track toy for 25 lucky customers.
Limited to 25 examples, there aren't multiple McLaren Solus GT trims to choose from. Every car has the same 5.2-liter V10 that can rev to over 10,000 rpm, producing 829 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed sequential shift gearbox is standard. Considering it weighs under 2,205 pounds, it only takes 2.5 seconds for the Solus GT to reach 62 mph. All configurations are RWD, with no AWD option.
The Solus GT rides on 18-inch forged aluminum wheels with center locking nuts, wrapped in Le Mans Prototype-specification tires. The McLaren Solus GT's aerodynamic specs are supreme, with 2,645 lbs of downforce generated - more than the McLaren Solus GT's weight. Inside, there is a single-seat cockpit accessed via a sliding canopy. A TFT instrument display, carbon fiber steering wheel, and six-point harness create the most involving driving position possible. Although comfort specifications are minimal, it does have air conditioning, but no major package upgrades were announced. Individual options are scarce, but many interior and exterior colors are available.
There is nothing quite like the Solus GT in McLaren’s lineup. Freed of the limitations that apply to road-legal cars, it has been designed with an unrelenting focus on ultimate performance. Exotic materials like carbon fiber and 3D-printed titanium have been used in the car’s construction, and aerodynamic optimization has been taken to the extreme. The ‘hammerhead’ nose separates airflow from the underbody ground effects, while the center driving position offers great visibility thanks to the wraparound canopy screen. The GT has 18-inch forged wheels, a high-downforce rear wing, a TFT instrument display, and a molded seat with a six-point harness.
The Solus GT looks like a fighter jet that just happened to have four wheels attached to it. A lot of that has to do with the sliding canopy that replaces the dihedral doors of other McLarens. It makes ingress and egress trickier, but the wraparound screen affords the driver a clear view of their surroundings. The rest of the Solus GT's body has evidently been designed around optimized airflow. The car has two full-length ground effect tunnels with air intakes in front and a NACA duct, effectively a low-drag air inlet. The bold 'hammerhead' nose divides airflow from the underbody ground effects and full-length diffuser. There is also a massive front splitter. At each corner, there are distinctive wheel pods; these house 18-inch forged aluminum wheels, wrapped in tires with either slick or wet compounds. At the back, the fixed rear wing generates stupendous downforce - at 2,645 lbs, the downforce created is greater than the car's weight. Dual exhaust pipes are mounted in the center of the body at the back.
No specific dimensions have been supplied for the McLaren Solus GT, so we can't tell you what its length, width, and height are. We expect its height to be under 50 inches, like several McLaren supercars.
More important than its size is the Solus GT's light mass. At under 2,205 lbs, it's close to 1,000 lbs lighter than the 720S, which is already considered a light supercar. The GT's light weight is made possible by its carbon fiber construction, along with aspects like the wheel pods.
With more downforce than weight, it's technically possible to drive the Solus GT upside down, not that anyone has tried it yet.
McLaren has not published the full list of colors available for the Solus GT, although it does say that the customization process will ensure that every example is unique. The car debuted in white with blue accents, but we've also seen examples with a two-tone body in black and orange, and another one in primarily orange with black accents. It's safe to say that customers spending this much won't be too limited in how they can spec the Solus GT.
Producing 829 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque from its 5.2-liter V10 engine, the McLaren Solus GT returns dramatic acceleration times. It will go from 0-62 mph (100km/h) in only 2.5 seconds, and the fun doesn't abate until the top speed of over 200 mph is reached; the McLaren Solus GT's time for the shorter 0-60 sprint will be around 2.3 seconds. All that power is directed to the rear axle via a seven-speed sequential gearbox.
The driving experience in this car is not merely about the numbers. High-revving V10 engines are increasingly rare, and the Solus GT's power plant sounds monstrous as it crests 10,000 rpm. Then, there is the central driving position, making the driver feel like piloting an F1 machine. More F1 inspiration comes in the form of front-pushrod and rear-pullrod-activated torsion bars with a double-wishbone setup. The RWD Solus GT also gets four-way manually adjustable dampers, anti-roll bars, and a heave spring and damper system.
At the 2023 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Solus GT completed the Hillclimb shootout - along a winding 1.16-mile road - in 45.34 seconds. This made it the third fastest production vehicle to complete the Hillclimb.
Without forced induction of any kind, the McLaren Solus GT's 5.2-liter V10 engine can soar beyond 10,000 rpm, making an incredible noise as it does so. According to the manufacturer, the V10 produces "in excess of" 829 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. Low-volume machined components have been incorporated into the engine's design, and it's completely gear-driven, with no chains or belts for the ancillary systems.
Coupled with the V10 is a seven-speed sequential gearbox with motorsport-derived straight-cut gears. The bespoke casting and casing has been designed as a mounting point for the rear suspension, with materials including aluminum and magnesium. Optimized for track use, the car has a carbon fiber clutch, and since the gearbox is fully automated and managed by software, there is no pedal or lever-operated clutch.
No high-revving V10 will be light on gas, and since it won't be homologated for road use in the USA or any other country, McLaren hasn't bothered supplying an mpg rating. Used in anger, we wouldn't be surprised if consumption plummeted into the single digits. Range in a track-only car is another non-concern; the gas tank size has not been specified.
The interior of the McLaren Solus GT is as small as it gets, designed around a central driving position and able to accommodate only the driver. However, comfort is increased since each seat is tailored to the specific driver's body. Most functions are adjustable via the steering wheel, which is inspired by motorsport. A touch of modern convenience stems from the TFT display, but nothing that isn't necessary for track use has been included. Man and machine are rarely as connected as when one is strapped in via the six-point harness inside the Solus GT.
The single-seater McLaren Solus GT only has interior space for the driver in a seat that is specially molded to the body of each individual - this is important since the seat itself is fixed in place. But before you sit, you have to slide the wraparound canopy forward - there is no traditional door. The NACA duct doubles as a step to help the driver climb up, and you literally step onto the seat before sliding down into the car. It's a narrow space that may not be to the liking of those prone to claustrophobia, but sitting in the middle engenders an unparalleled feeling of control and being at one with the car.
Forward and side visibility is excellent thanks to the wraparound canopy, and a digital rearview mirror linked to a camera assists with rearward vision. The seating position - including a six-point racing harness - results in one's ankles being almost in line with your hips, much like Formula 1 drivers are seated in their cars.
McLaren will offer an FIA-homologated race suit, helmet, HANS device, and radio-enabled ear inserts for each customer. These are included in the price of the new McLaren Solus GT.
Plenty of carbon fiber surrounds you in the McLaren Solus GT's interior. The halo cockpit protection structure and roll hoop have been fashioned from 3D-printed titanium components, helping to reduce weight. The steering wheel is made from carbon fiber, too, and a phenolic resin-based system with advanced micro-bead technology is used to mold the seat.
As with the exterior, McLaren will offer an almost unlimited range of colors for the cockpit, with one of the first customer cars featuring orange seats. Another example had blue seat belts, and we expect to see many more vibrant color schemes as McLaren works its way through the production run.
The McLaren Solus GT has no cargo space at all, and your best bet for storing small items in the cockpit is to wear pants or a jacket with enough pockets. There isn't even a cupholder."
A full HVAC system has been installed, including air conditioning, so multiple laps can be completed without the driver becoming overheated. A camera on the roll hoop behind the driver's head is installed for rearward vision, and there is a fully plumbed-in emergency fire extinguisher. The steering wheel houses nearly every control, including those for the air conditioning, engine start/stop, and drive mode selector. The windshield is heated to prevent fogging up on rainy track days, but you won't find much more than that.
A TFT instrument display is placed on the steering wheel to display key driver information, but this is the extent of the McLaren's infotainment interface. As for the sound system, well, that role is filled by the intake above the cockpit that feeds the engine with cold air - volume can be adjusted easily via your right foot.
With so few cars destined for production, reliability data will be nearly impossible to come by. We can safely assume that McLaren will step in quickly should one of the 25 lucky customers run into any trouble with their Solus GT. On the plus side, the absence of in-car electrics and comforts means there is less to go wrong there.
We expect McLaren's usual three-year warranty with no mileage limit to apply to the Solus GT.
Being a rare, track-only hypercar, no crash review of the McLaren Solus GT has taken place, and that will never change.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
Besides the rearview camera that assists with visibility, the McLaren Solus GT has no modern driver aids. After all, who needs lane departure warning on the track? It does have some safety features built into its design, however, like a halo-style reinforcement structure for the canopy to protect the driver. If the canopy's sliding mechanism is obstructed, an escape hatch is built in so the driver can exit the cockpit. A carbon crash structure is incorporated into the gearbox, there is a six-point harness, the driver gets a helmet, and the six-piston monobloc calipers will undoubtedly help scrub off the excessive speeds of which the 2023 Solus GT is capable.
"Good" is an understatement - the McLaren Solus GT is a work of art. In concept, design, and engineering terms, the Solus GT is a track toy of the highest caliber. Between the naturally aspirated V10 and the singular focus on the driver, the McLaren is a deeply engrossing car to drive. Without needing to conform to road-car regulations, the Solus has been stripped down to the basics, as reflected in its remarkably lightweight body. The fact that it started life as a concept in a video game only adds to the fascination surrounding this car. We only hope that the well-heeled collectors who have acquired it will do more than parade it at flashy motoring shows. The Solus GT deserves to be savored from behind the wheel, not a camera lens.
Reports suggest the price of the 2023 McLaren Solus GT to be exorbitant, starting at over £2.5 million. At current rates, that translates to well over $3 million, but the MSRP of the McLaren Solus GT will rise based on how each car is configured.
Besides the ability to customize the colors, seat, and tires, there are not many options for the Solus GT. McLaren did say the anti-roll bars can be tuned to customers' preferences, too.
Even if you could come up with the over $3 million required to buy one, it wouldn't matter - every Solus GT has been accounted for. We'd have ours in vivid orange or green, as going subtle for an extreme track weapon like this one just feels wrong.
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