Achieving velocity that has never before been possible in a McLaren was implied, simply by the name “Speedtail.” But for the latest and most exclusive member of the road-going Ultimate Series, it’s about much more than that.
As with many of the limited-run models that McLaren has developed, it is not solely about what the car accomplishes, but the measures taken to accomplish it. “Form follows function” has rung true throughout the modern era of McLaren, and the implications have created track-focused weapons such as the 675LT and Senna, or road cars with dynamic capabilities like the 570S and 720S. Though for decades, there was always one question: when will we see another F1?
The Speedtail revitalizes key character cues from the F1, but within the landscape of modern McLaren. Chief among them is the distinct three-seat layout, a once-dormant idea that is now spectacularly executed in the streamlined interior of the Speedtail. The cabin gravitates all controls toward the middle, with driving modes, window switches and door latches all symmetrically sorted above the driver. Those controls are bathed in a world-first technique in the automotive industry, which is Thin-Ply Technology Carbon Fibre. The thin carbon layers are milled to create a shimmering appearance reminiscent of flowing water, which presents an incredible contrast to the luxurious leathers that otherwise line the opulent interior.
High-definition touch displays remove nearly all physical button controls throughout the cabin, further promoting an environment free of distractions at speed. Incredible visibility results in a time-warping view as the Speedtail approaches the 250 mph barrier, and that last part is what Speedtail brings to the fight.
Into the 2000s, top speed became a game that anyone could play. When the F1 set a 240.14 mark in 1998, it sat unchallenged by production cars for seven years. Since then, the record seems to change hands on an annual basis and it almost seems like a gimmick. But the way the Speedtail achieves what it does is distinctly unlike anything else.
The symbiotic relationship between aerodynamic efficiency and sheer hybridized power allows the Speedtail to follow through on its core promises. The teardrop shape is nearly uninterrupted; the number of body panels is reduced to limit the amount of shutlines in the body, and it even features retracting side-view cameras in lieu of conventional mirrors to further reduce drag. Air intakes are hidden just behind the glass canopy; instead of sitting above the body like a snorkel – which would result in the air separating from the surface – the dual intakes feed air around the third brake light and into the 1,036 horsepower powertrain. Rear ailerons formed of flexible carbon fiber actively modify the center of pressure at speed, as they flex upward under deceleration to function as an airbrake, or lie flat with no gaps to eliminate drag and achieve terminal speed. Further separating the Speedtail from its contemporaries are carbon fiber covers reduce turbulence around the front wheels, and the end result is the most aerodynamic McLaren car ever built.
Only 106 units are accounted for and will be built, and the ultimate in exclusivity will surely promise ultimate personalization. Deliveries will commence in 2020 and McLaren Philadelphia excitedly awaits its arrival.