by Sebastian Cenizo
Fans of McLaren have been clamoring for a successor to the iconic F1 for decades now, and it's finally arrived. Dubbed the Speedtail, McLaren's latest offering in its Super Series of hypercars is what the company calls a Hyper-GT. Powered by an evolution of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 found in the 720S, as well as the fashionable hybrid assistance you'd expect of a modern hypercar, the Speedtail produces 1,035 horsepower and 848 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. While its looks are not what one may consider traditionally beautiful, the McLaren way is to produce a functional design first and a pretty form after. Thus, McLaren's fastest and most aerodynamic vehicle takes on something of a teardrop shape. However, is a three-seat layout enough to make the Speedtail worthy of succeeding the historic F1? No, but there's more than just nostalgia at play here.
Although based on the brilliant 720S, the Speedtail is an all-new vehicle with all-new technology. A carbon tub is a familiar piece of that technology, but it, too, is new and features built-in passenger seats. A full glass canopy with electrochromic glass that darkens at the push of a button is something new too, but keen-eyed observers will notice the lack of wing mirrors. Another new feature is a pair of retractable rearview cameras that cause less turbulent air than traditional mirrors would. Fixed wheel covers at the front also aim to smooth the air while the rear features flexible carbon fiber ailerons instead of a traditional hydraulic spoiler. Essentially, every part of the car is completely new and totally special.
4.0-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Hybrid
7 Speed Dual-clutch Automatic
No car has ever been as swoopy as this one, but some similarities with past automobiles are present. Those carbon wheel covers fixed in place over 20-inch front wheels call to mind the Jaguar XJ220, while the rear end with its low tail is reminiscent of that of the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR. A pair of exhaust tips are housed in a massive rear diffuser, while a vertical brake light is a nice futuristic touch. The front headlights are vaguely Aston-like, until you notice the running lights that curve downward into radiator vents, thus bringing the McLaren swoop detail into play.
Official dimensions of the Speedtail have not yet been released, but we do know that it is 23.3 inches longer than the 720S, bringing the car to a total length of 202.2 inches. Curb weight also hasn't been announced yet, but without fluids, the lightweight hypercar tips the scales at just 3,153 pounds.
The Speedtail is intended to be fully customized by each buyer, and any color can be matched and applied to the bodywork. The paint itself will be something special too, with ultra-fine pigments that are intended to make the body look wet at all times. Various custom carbon finishes can be had too, and even words or images can be integrated into the weave, while the badges and other details can be finished in your choice of precious metals including platinum, gold, or anything else you may like.
The Speedtail is McLaren's fastest and most aerodynamic car yet, thanks in part to a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 hybrid system that produces a total of 1,035 hp and 848 lb-ft of torque, along with a titanium-infused carbon fiber body. However, while it's the quickest and fastest car McLaren has ever produced, it doesn't have the F1's once-held title of being the fastest car in the world. Instead, the Speedtail is limited to 250 mph. However, its acceleration figures are good enough to best some of the fastest cars ever. While the previous McLaren halo car, the P1, took a leisurely 16.5 seconds to get from 0-186 mph, and the Bugatti Chiron takes 13.6 seconds, the Speedtail undercuts them both with an incredible time of just 12.8 seconds, thus proving that aerodynamics and weight are just as important when it comes to performance as all-out brute force from a big engine. As usual for McLaren, the Speedtail sends its power to the rear wheels exclusively.
The 720S donated its M840T engine to the Speedtail, although it has been modified for use in the Speedtail. Along with electric assistance, the whole powertrain now produces 1,035 hp and 848 lb-ft of torque. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission makes a reappearance here too, and thanks to our experiences in other cars equipped with this system, we can safely assume that the Speedtail will provide lightning-quick shifts at speed, and smooth gear changes when cruising at low speeds. Thanks to that hybrid system, acceleration is as phenomenal as the figures above would imply, and we expect throttle response to be just as incredible. Still, this car is billed as a GT, albeit a very extreme one, so it should be just as good at long-distance trekking should you wish to take the Speedtail on longer trips.
With claims of such astonishing acceleration, the Speedtail will surely be incredible in a straight line. However, with such a long slippery body, it remains to be seen how good it is in the corners. Still, McLaren is not the type of company that does things in halves, so handling should be phenomenal, and thanks to an adaptive suspension system and aspirations of being a "hyper-GT", it ought to be remarkably comfortable too. While that expansive glasshouse will provide unparalleled levels of visibility for all occupants, it may take some time to adjust to seeing the images from the rearview cameras on either side of the dash, rather than looking towards where mirrors would normally reside. At the rear, flexible carbon fiber ailerons inspired by the aeronautics industry will help with downforce and are capable of acting as one airbrake system, so stopping will certainly happen at a phenomenal rate.
No official figures or claims have been made available in terms of the Speedtail's economy figures, but thanks to the hybrid powertrain and the aerodynamic body, we expect it to perform very well.
The interior of the Speedtail is remarkably spacious for a hypercar, thanks to a three-seat layout. It seems all the more spacious thanks to the glass roof too. Buttons on the dash are few and far between, with most controls above the driver on the roof, another aeronautic cue, but also an attempt to keep the driver focused on the road ahead. Three screens sit ahead of the driver, with one for vehicle settings and functions, another for infotainment and media, and the central screen for typical driver info. Leather is used for almost every surface, with a highly durable form of the stuff even replacing traditional carpeting on the floor. As unique as the exterior of the Speedtail is, so the interior, too, stands out from anything else in production at the moment.
Two seats are built into the rear of the Speedtail's cabin and form a part of the carbon tub, while the driver gets a single seat ahead of the rears. As you can imagine, this makes legroom for all passengers incredible, but getting in and out will surely be a tricky affair. Ladies, don't wear a miniskirt if you're getting in the back. The driver has a very focused view ahead, with only the essentials in terms of buttons on the dash, while the steering wheel and touchscreens are simple and easy to reach. The doors are dihedral, but don't worry about how to close them once seated - they're power-operated.
Personalization is a key feature of what McLaren is offering Speedtail buyers, and colors are as limitless as your imagination. Various types of aniline and semi-aniline leather are used for most surfaces, with nubuck leather on the dash and hints of carbon fiber showing on the doors and steering wheel. Some splashes of aluminum are also seen, helping contrast with numerous matte finishes in the cabin.
The Speedtail is remarkably practical for a hypercar, offering as much as 5.7 cubic feet of volume. A small section in the nose can hold a carry-on case, while bespoke luggage can be added in the back, allowing you to carry enough clothing for a weekend away for you and your passengers.
In the cabin, there isn't any room for the contents of your pockets, nor are there any cupholders, but that's what you get in a car with a strange seating layout and gullwing doors.
As is common on hypercars, advanced driver aids are nowhere to be found, but tech junkies will appreciate the power-operated dihedral doors, the rearview cameras that can be retracted at speed or when parked, and the three displays ahead of the driver. Electrochromic glass replaces traditional sunvisors and can darken a strip of the windscreen at the push of a button, while those who aren't fans of hooking their cars up to a wall socket for recharging will appreciate the Speedtail's novel wireless charging pad that is included in the sale of the car. Other features include height-adaptive suspension for traversing low obstacles and the obligatory back-up camera.
Not much is known about the Speedtail's infotainment system, but we can tell you that it is operated by the right-hand-side touchscreen display in the dash. If past McLaren systems are anything to go by, there won't be Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and the system will be a little slow to respond, but advances are likely to have been made, and you can at least be sure of Bluetooth connectivity and a powerful sound system.
As a brand new model that is yet to be driven on our shores, no recalls have been issued thus far. However, it may be worth noting that one recall was issued for the latest 720S on which some of the Speedtail's design is based. This was for a foam pad that may retain moisture and subsequently corrode the fuel tank.
A limited and powertrain warranty covers the Speedtail for three years with no mileage limit, but it is worth noting that the law imposes a 2,500-mile limit annually on vehicles that are imported under the Show or Display law, which is the only way that the Speedtail is likely to be semi-legal in the States.
Crash tests have not been performed on the Speedtail and are unlikely to ever occur for this model, but thanks to a titanium-infused carbon fiber structure, the Speedtail should be exceptionally rigid.
The Speedtail's strange seating layout means that it does without side-impact airbags, but rollover and frontal airbags are included. However, advanced driver aids are not, and you will have to rely on the anti-lock brakes, traction and stability systems, parking sensors, and rearview cameras to keep from damaging the car or others around you.
The Speedtail is built as a completely new technological showcase but carries some similarities to the famously brilliant F1, a car that owned the production speed record title for an incredibly long time. While the Speedtail is faster than the F1, others since have smashed that record and the Speedtail's 250-mph top speed means that it won't grab the headlines or be revered as much as its predecessor. Does this make it a poor attempt? No. The Speedtail is built to show the world McLaren's ability in implementing new technology and the fact that it has a three-seat layout and is limited to the same 106 units that were sold of the F1 only means that McLaren is aware of its history and has paid tribute in a small way. The Speedtail is about so much more than speed, and ushers in a new era of aerodynamic brilliance, as well as a change in direction towards more sustainable technology. McLaren claims that the battery has the best power-to-weight ratio of any production unit, and innovations like wireless charging show that McLaren is thinking of the future, not just the headlines. The Speedtail is a unique hypercar, but it is certainly of technological importance, and will undoubtedly have many more fans than buyers.
Pricing starts at around $2.3 million before any taxes or other fees, and as pricey as that is, you can personalize the car in innumerable ways, provided your pockets are deep enough. With just 106 being built though, that investment will certainly pay off in the future.
The Speedtail is a standalone model and forms a part of McLaren's Super Series - the highest echelon of cars that break new performance boundaries. It is powered by a hybrid system that includes a boosted version of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 found in the 720S, combining for a total output of 1,035 hp and 848 lb-ft of torque. Top speed is 250 mph, but the acceleration figures are just as remarkable, with the Speedtail managing to get from 0-186 mph in less than 13 seconds, making it quicker than even the Bugatti Chiron, despite the McLaren having rear-wheel-drive to propel it instead of all-wheel-drive. Various new innovations are present with the Speedtail, including a wireless charging pad, static carbon fiber front wheel covers, and electrochromic glass. It also features power-operated dihedral doors and a pair of retractable rearview cameras in place of traditional wing mirrors. Inside, three occupants can be seated, and three screens display pertinent information and handle settings changes, while additional functions like the start button reside above the driver's head.
Little is known about how exactly one can enhance the Speedtail, but we do know that a bespoke luggage set can be optioned in. Numerous options for customization exist with the paint, carbon fiber, leather, and other aesthetic features, with even the option for precious metals on various parts of the car.
Sadly, all 106 units are already spoken for, but if you're one of the lucky ones to have an order in and you haven't yet decided how to spec your Speedtail, we'd recommend getting the optional luggage set, and we'd probably opt for a light color on the interior to enhance the roomy effect created by the expansive glasshouse. On the outside, we'd opt for a sleek and futuristic shade of silver to accentuate the smooth lines of the slippery Speedtail.
The Chiron is the car that kids of today will know as the fastest car in the world, much like the McLaren F1 was the car that many of us grew up idolizing for its astonishing speed record. While the Bugatti is a big, hulking, all-wheel-drive behemoth with a massive 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16 engine that is as subtle as a sledgehammer, the Speedtail (coincidentally with exactly 50% of the displacement, turbos, and layout of the Chiron) is a precision tool, more akin to a perfectly crafted, minimalist scalpel. Where the Chiron uses brute force to ram home its efficacy, the Speedtail uses a more diligent and elegant approach, embracing the laws of aerodynamics rather than forcing its way past them. The Speedtail is a strange-looking thing, but there's artistry about how pure its design is, and with better acceleration, fewer production numbers, and a lower asking price, it's no wonder that McLaren is so proud of it.
Another hotly anticipated British hypercar is Aston Martin's Valkyrie. While the Aston has no turbos, it does have a Cosworth-developed 11,100-rpm V12 screamer along with a Rimac-designed electric system that helps the car produce an astonishing 1,160 hp and 663 lb-ft of torque. It too uses exceptionally complex design to make the most of aerodynamic behavior, but while the Speedtail is built almost exclusively to go as quickly as possible in a straight line, the Valkyrie is all about the corners. Sure, it still has a top speed above 200 mph, but the Valkyrie is designed as a sort of street-legal Formula 1 car, and thanks to an almost completely bare cabin, it will undoubtedly be less comfortable than the Speedtail while offering far better performance on just about any circuit. Essentially, the Speedtail is for straight-line speed and luxury while the Valkyrie is for handling and naturally-aspirated aural pleasure. If you can afford either, however, you can probably afford both.
Check out some informative McLaren Speedtail video reviews below.